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Wildlife park takes cautious approach to reopening

Blair Drummond Safari Park in Stirlingshire will welcome pre-booked visitors only from Monday.

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Blair Drummond Safari Park will reopen on Monday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Blair Drummond Safari Park will reopen on Monday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Blair Drummond Safari Park will reopen on Monday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A wildlife park in Scotland is looking forward to reopening “very cautiously” when lockdown measures are eased on Monday.

Blair Drummond Safari Park in Stirlingshire normally begins its season towards the end of March but those plans were dashed by the coronavirus pandemic.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last Thursday that outdoor businesses such as zoos and garden attractions can reopen from next week.

She advised people “should not travel more than around five miles to visit them” and “where these places are ticketed, tickets should be bought in advance”.

Dave Warren, operations supervisor at the park, told the PA news agency that tickets for Monday and Tuesday have only been available to members.

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Operations supervisor Dave Warren installs signs in the rhino yard explaining social distancing measures (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Operations supervisor Dave Warren installs signs in the rhino yard explaining social distancing measures (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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Operations supervisor Dave Warren installs signs in the rhino yard explaining social distancing measures (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He said: “What we’re trying to do is open very cautiously in ensuring that those who have bought pre booked tickets online have a very safe day.

“The measures put in place to do that include limiting the ticket gates so the visitors can ensure that if they do get a ticket online and they come here the place isn’t going to be swamped.

“What we don’t want to do is, say someone gets a ticket online, for them to come here and think there’s going to be 10,000 people. It’s not going to happen.”

He added: “In the initial phases of opening we’re going to have a gradual increase of ticket numbers, depending on the sort of flow and ebb of visitors around the park.

“The first two days we’re opening is going to be members only so that we can just manage and monitor visitors as they move around the park, ensuring that there’s no overcrowding.

“There’s been a good demand on the website by uptake of tickets on sale and really good feedback and comments off our social media channels.”

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Mr Warren cleans an exhibit at the new World of Dinosaurs attraction (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Warren cleans an exhibit at the new World of Dinosaurs attraction (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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Mr Warren cleans an exhibit at the new World of Dinosaurs attraction (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Visitors will be encouraged to stick with the one-way system across the park, which includes a new World of Dinosaurs attraction.

There will also be a new viewing platform for Chimp Island, instead of having boats running along the attraction, while water enclosures will also be shut.

Another part of the park to remain closed is Lemur Land – a primate walk-through – but the pets farm area remains open.

Mr Warren said local authority officials have walked around with park management ahead of the reopening on Monday and they are “very, very positive and they were pleased with what we’ve already done”.

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Social distancing signs on the ground in the new World of Dinosaurs attraction (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Social distancing signs on the ground in the new World of Dinosaurs attraction (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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Social distancing signs on the ground in the new World of Dinosaurs attraction (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He added: “People are incredibly keen to come and see us, come and see the animals, come to the park as well, and enjoy the space because

“We’ve got over 160 acres of open outdoor space here so we’re quite confident that we can accommodate people safely.

“We’ve got extra staff on cleaning as well – that includes the park and toilets and handrails so we’ve got extra staff out monitoring visitor movement and extra cleaners.

“We’ve got over 60 hand sanitisers and hand-wash stations located around the animal reserves anyway.

“We’re fully confident that we provide one of the best facilities in Scotland to ensure that public can keep themselves safe and clean.”

Tickets and more information can be found on the Blair Drummond website.

PA