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Giant new safari park could be created on Norfolk quarry site

PUBLISHED: 17:02 21 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:01 21 January 2018

Flamingos. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Flamingos. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

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A £7.5m safari park complete with wildebeeste, flamingo and a host of wild animals could be created in Norfolk, bringing hundreds of jobs to the county.

A zebra foal.  Picture: Nick ButcherA zebra foal. Picture: Nick Butcher

The visionary behind the new Watlington Safari Park, near King’s Lynn, believes it would be the first of its kind of the United Kingdom, bringing £3.57m per year to West Norfolk’s economy and providing a popular attraction for residents and visitors alike.

In a brochure sent to villagers Edward Pope, the man behind the idea, said: “I am passionate about the conservation of endangered animals and birds.

“For several years I have been provided a refuge and breeding programme for deer and antelope at my home in Norfolk.

“Now I want to build on that work by expanding this refuge to create an inspirational centre for education, a visitor experience that people can enjoy and a site for extraordinary wildlife encounters.”

A deer. Picture: Ian BurtA deer. Picture: Ian Burt

The large, open land on the eastern edge of the village, which has previously been a gravel quarry, already comes with a central lake, large woodland and extensive grasslands and bushes.

“It thus offers the chance to create the ideal conditions for animal and bird conservation and is large enough to comfortably support a visitor centre and viewing areas,” a brochure produced by Rural Solutions said.

“We want to create an exceptional wildlife experience, with birds and animals behaving naturally despite being some thousands from their native lands.

“Watlington Safari Park will be a place to relax, a place to learn and a place to explore.”

People would get the opportunity to view non-predatory creatures close-up, including zebra, markhors, deer, flamingos and great bustards. Rural Solutions believes the park “is not only unique to West Norfolk but is also the first of its kind in the United Kingdom”.

As well as 237 full-time construction jobs, it could create 14 full-time and other part-time opportunities.

“It is planned to include education visits for schools and for some local children to be given free access via a golden ticket system,” the brochure added. “In this way the park has the potential to introduce the next generation to extraordinary and varied wildlife they would not otherwise have the chance to encounter.”

Features of the new safari park

The safari park would include a number of specially-designed areas, including a building called The Stingray which will include an education room, cafe and function facilities.

There will also be balconies offering views of the surrounding landscape and the chance for visitors to board trailers for tours around the park.

Themed on on African shelter, The Lodge is designed to provide a “warm and inviting” space nestled amongst the park’s trees.

But visitors will be able to stay at the site in a series of log cabins.

They will only be accessible by electrical buggies from the nearby parking area, in a bid to preserve the peaceful surroundings of the enclave.

“Offering uninterrupted views through glazed facades facing east, the cabins will offer high-quality accommodation in a beautiful natural setting,” the brochure from Rural Solutions said.

“Visitors will have the chance to ride out into the landscape and enjoy a unique holiday, in a place immersed by nature.”

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