As if families needed another reason to visit this summer, more than 80 life-size animals made entirely from LEGO bricks have landed at Knowsley Safari Park.
Over 1 million LEGO blocks make up the Ultimate Brick Safari – fashioned into a Bengal tiger, an elephant, gorillas, lions, meerkats and many, many more.
Eager to examine these marvellous creations close up, Educate magazine headed along to Knowsley‘s famous animal attraction.
Included with the price of your park entry (£17.50 for adults / £13.50 for kids under 16), the Ultimate Brick Safari runs through the Foot Safari.
But before our party of two adults and two children embarked on the LEGO hunt, we first took in the UK’s longest safari drive.
Separated into 11 different zones, the 550-acre Safari Drive features species from around the world – living in conditions which mimic the wild as close as possible.
Luckily our trip to Knowsley was blessed with beautiful summer weather so almost all of the animals were out on show, including some stunning zebras, awesome bison and mighty rhinos.
Halfway through the drive we came to an area which the kids had been excited and afraid to experience in equal measure.
There has been a baboon troop at Knowsley Safari Park since it first opened back in 1971, and Zone 7 remains a highlight of the safari to this day.
Unconcerned about any potential damage to my clapped-out motor, I steered our crew past the ‘car friendly monkey route’, and into the enclosure.
However as we witnessed mischievous monkeys casually removing parts from other vehicles with the skill of veteran mechanics – I soon wondered whether I’d made the right decision.
Alas it was too late to turn back, so gingerly I edged us forward closer to the gang of waiting primates and before long we had several of them clambering onto the car.
Naturally the kids found this hilarious – especially when one particularly cheeky chappie decided to relieve himself all over my back windscreen.
I decided we’d seen enough monkeys for one day and promptly negotiated us around a group of prone primates and out of the enclosure.
Our next encounter with some of the park’s favourite residents was a much more sedate affair as Knowsley’s pride of big cats were enjoying a midday snooze when we stopped by Lion Country.
The lion’s sleepy state however didn’t take away the thrill of seeing these magnificent animals close up.
Before we finished the Safari Drive, we bumped into (almost literally) a caravan of camels crossing the track.
Having an enormous Bactrian Camel looming over my tiny hatchback was one of the highlights of the day for sure.
The Safari Drive done and dusted, it was time to make our way over to the Foot Safari and begin our search for the animal’s life-sized LEGO counterparts.
The 11-year-old in our group quickly took charge of the operation and seized the map which outlined the location of each plastic sculpture.
Spurred on by our enthusiast young leader we rapidly began ticking LEGO animals of the list – ‘Earl Grey the Elephant’, ‘Colton the Condor’, ‘Linus the Lion’, and my personal favourite ‘Wilford the Warthog’.
The level of detail on each sculpture was remarkable and I agreed with a fellow explorer who remarked that the model makers “must have had the patience of Job!”.
In a further effort to engage the little ones, each creation was accompanied by a fact sign which contained the answers to a quiz printed on the map.
With a potential prize of a brick meerkat for correct completion – they didn’t need asking twice to fill it in.
Speaking of those small fury members of the mongoose family, discovering ‘Misha, Mikhail & Marc the Meerkats’ next-door to their real-life equivalents was a definitely a high point.
It was clear we weren’t the only ones fully committed to the activity as well, as I overheard a pair of twin girls call out to their mother, with feeling, “how many have we found so far?!”.
After spying ‘Cressida the Crocodile’ and ‘Tenzin the Tiger’ on the Amur Tiger Trail, the decision was made to call off the hunt and head for ice cream.
Regrettably we were unable to locate ‘Gorman the Gorilla’ despite our best efforts. It turns out the 186.5kg ape was sat at the entrance to the Foot Safari – some hunters we were!
Anyway, the Ultimate Brick Safari made for a fantastically interactive way to explore the Foot Safari and managed to excite and engage the children for hours.
An extremely well designed and welcome addition to an already fabulous attraction, it’s at Knowsley Safari Park until 2 September.
Can you find them all?