Hi and welcome to this special Easter blog! We've just got in from a couple of days away staying with family, and I wanted to write about the safari park, and in particular one certain exhibit.
We went to Knowsley Safari Park on Saturday. We visited the same park last year (which was covered in this blog, read if you wish), and it's a really good wildlife park, I'd recommend visiting it if you can.
Now, one of the main attractions is a "Safari Drive", where you drive slowly around the park, seeing all kinds of different animals. Quite often you would come to a standstill as a car in front would stop, and bring out a camera to take photos of the rhino, or springbok, or whatever was in the vicinity. It's all very good, although when you're stuck behind a car because they're spending five minutes looking at an ostrich, and you've already seen half a dozen, it's a little tiresome.
Anyway, on the Safari Drive one exhibit of particular note is the baboon enclosure. You are given two routes to drive on the Safari Drive, one outside the baboon enclosure (also known as "THE SAFE ROUTE") and one where you actually drive inside the enclosure.
Everyone picks the latter, although I suspect, this is without the complete and unreserved agreement of the owner of the car, who will have read the sign that says "Warning - The Baboons WILL damage YOUR car!!" and is thinking to themselves that maybe, just once, the safe route might be a wiser choice.
So, you go into the enclosure, and baboons climb on your car, and jump from car to car, and they're great fun.
And, as has happened to my car both times I've been there, they try to rip bits off your car.
Sometimes they go for rubber door seals, sometimes it's windscreen wipers. On my car they particularly like the windscreen sprayers, they like to gnaw them off and then sit there chewing them, as though they're trying an unusual branding of chewing tobacco. Now, I've been very fortunate that on both occasions I've got the sprayers back and been able to fit them back on my car, but I can understand that some drivers might get a certain amount of joy at the sight when they leave the enclosure.
Because when you leave the enclosure, there are two park keepers stood at the exit, entrusted with the important job of ensuring that the baboons don't escape.
And they each have equipment to help them with this endeavour - equipment, which can be best described, as long hefty sticks, ideal for sweeping baboons off car roofs.
Certainly the first time I drove round the exhibit, and I had three baboons on my car, who were doing their best to not only eat my windscreen sprayers but also yank out the rubber pipe that delivers water to the sprayer, the arrival of the two guys with clubs was enough to make the baboons drop the bits of my car they were eating and run away, no doubt anticipating a swing of a heavy stick in their direction.
I'm curious to imagine the job advert for the baboon enclosure. It would go something like this, I like to imagine:
Wanted: Safari Park Warden Level 1 (Baboon Enclosure). We are looking for people enthusiastic and knowledgeable about wildlife. Successful applicants must have good front line customer service skills, and be at all times friendly and presentable. Applications from baseball players are particularly welcomed.
Alternatively, perhaps they just send someone down to the car park looking for people nursing baboon-damaged cars fresh from the Safari Drive experience, and ask if they fancy volunteering for an hour or so. I imagine that they'd have some takers.