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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Uh, OK, if you say so, guys. So who WOULD would dare to pick these flowers?

By Chris Parsons

It's often an idyllic summer scene - skipping through flower-filled fields of colour as the sun beams down.

But anyone considering a jaunt through this particularly glorious display of bluebells may want to think twice, as the wonderful summery scene is part of a lion's enclosure.

Even so, in the age of 'elf and safety, safari park keepers felt the need to state the incredibly obvious to its visitors, as they erected a 'do not pick the flowers' sign metres away from the fearsome-looking big cats.

Look but don't touch: Two lions prowl their territory at Longleat Safari Park - where bosses have helpfully told visitors not to venture on to their field of bluebells

Off limits: Only the most foolhardy of safari park visitors would be stupid enough to venture into this idyllic enclosure with fearsome creatures on the prowl

Stay away: Another member of the 12-lion pride stares out towards visitors at Longleat in front of the somewhat unnecessary sign

Untouched: Unsurprisingly, the glorious bluebell scene patrolled by lions has remained untrampled by humans for four decades

Unsurprisingly, the delicate woodland flowers at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire have remained untouched and untrampled by people for years.

But the Wiltshire attraction's bosses feel the presence of the pride of 12 lions isn't enough of a warning to the visitors.

They have now erected a sign telling them 'Please Do Not Pick the Flowers', though anyone venturing into this particular lions' den is clearly a combination of brave and stupid.

Ian Turner, deputy head keeper at Longleat, said: 'The lion enclosures are always the best place to see bluebells.

'They are a quintessentially British wildflower scene and our visitors have the added bonus of observing our pride of lions at the same time.

Wild things: The summery conditions at Longleat have allowed the beautiful pride of lions to bask in their glorious surroundings

A member of the Longleat lion pride has a playful nibble of what is perhaps the most obvious sign ever erected at a safari park

Three's a crowd: The fearsome lions at Longleat do a far more effective job in protecting the bluebells than any sign ever could

'The woodland has been virtually off-limits to humans for more than four decades which means it has remained undisturbed and the flowers have been able to flourish.

'Although the warning signs have clearly had no effect whatsoever on the lions, we're hoping they will raise a smile among our visitors.

'Obviously no one would be foolhardy enough to even consider getting out of their cars.'

Visitor Graham Stimpson, 43, said: 'I had to chuckle when I read the sign. There was a big lion walking right past it at the time and I thought to myself 'not blimming likely.''

Longleat has two separate prides of lions that are encouraged to 'hunt' for their food with the help of keepers who hide meat around their two enclosures.



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