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MEET THE HANDSOME MALES OF THE SAFARI PARK.

This Father’s Day, West Midland Safari Park will be paying some extra special attention to some of their handsome male residents and they don’t mean the staff!

First to receive some yummy treats and a good scratch behind the ear will be Barney, the Park’s ten year old southern white rhino. Barney has had a busy few months, with the birth of calf Ekozu – the first calf he has ever sired.

Now at just over two months old, Ekozu has been introduced to Dad and the first encounter went well, with the pair briefly coming ‘horn-to-horn’ and having a quick game of ‘chase’ around the reserves, until Mum stepped in!

Barney is just one of the dads involved in an important European Endangered Species Programme, which is a breeding initiative of endangered species in association with the European Association of Zoo and Aquaria (EAZA).

Head of Wildlife Operations, Angela Potter said, “We are really proud of all our handsome male animals; some of them are already ‘dads’ and some hopefully will be in the future. They will all be receiving some special treats in the form of their favourite foods on Father’s Day.”

She continued, “Breeding is essential to maintain populations in animal collections, which serve as an ark for many species that are endangered in the wild. Properly managed breeding programmes ensure good genetic diversity and healthy animals, and can contribute to conservation through research and reintroductions.”

Over the past few years, the Park has successfully bred a variety of endangered animals, including cheetahs, dholes, African hunting dogs and a range of deer and antelopes. This includes the critically endangered addax antelope, which a recent survey concluded there may only be three left in the wild.

Other males being celebrated on Father’s Day range from the small and fluffy red-bellied lemurs, to the tall and elegant giraffe, both of which are hoped to produce offspring in the future.

On Father’s Day Dads will receive a voucher with admission for a special free gift and can see the ‘handsome males’ in the four-mile self-drive safari. This is included in the standard admission charge of £22.00 for adults, £17.00 for children aged 3-15 years and £20.00 for concessions. Admission includes a free-return ticket and children under the age of 3 years are admitted free of charge. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.

Further information is available from the Park’s official website www.wmsp.co.uk or by telephone 01299 402114. You can find out more animal news on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page: http://www.wmsp.co.uk/facebook