FLACK, A. (2015)

Lions, Lords, and Automobiles: Animal Entertainment and Travel Technologies in the Late Twentieth Century.

Arcadia, 2015, no. 17 - Arcadia Collection: Histories across Species.


Opened in April 1966, the “Lions of Longleat” was the world’s first drive-thru lion reserve outside of Africa. Established by circus showman Jimmy Chipperfield and the Marquis of Bath, the Wiltshire attraction invited visitors to enter the park’s “wild” spaces and to gaze upon the beasts from the comfort and security of their very own automobiles. Fifty animals were initially acquired from animal dealers in Uganda and from zoos throughout the UK and Europe to make up the park’s first group of African lions. Presented as “even better than Africa,” the park was immediately popular with the public (even though the idea provoked significant opposition among those concerned by the prospect of predators in the English rural landscape). In the twelve months following the park’s opening, 188,500 visitor cars entered the estate along with 580 motor coaches. Indeed, massive visitor numbers caused long and winding traffic jams that clogged up nearby villages as visitors flocked for a close encounter with the African wilds.


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