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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Rare lions prove roaring success
The rare pride at West Midlands Safari Park
Kingdom of the White Lions cost 250,000
The latest exhibit at a Worcestershire safari park has become the most popular attraction in its 32 year history, just a week after arriving.

But many visitors were shut out of the West Midlands Safari Park when its gates were closed at 1400 BST on Monday because access roads were gridlocked.

Park officials said record-breaking numbers of visitors turned up over the Easter weekend.

They said interest in its new pride of African white lions was "overwhelming".

Inquiries have been received from as far away as London, South Wales and Sheffield since their arrival last Monday.

Spokeswoman Wendy Jackson said the park opened an hour earlier every day of the Bank Holiday weekend and added two admission lanes to cope with the number of visitors.

One other closure

"Despite every effort, roads around the park became gridlocked as visitors tried to get into the park on Monday," she said.

"Finally, the attraction reached saturation point and closed its gates."

At a cost of 250,000 the white lion exhibit is the biggest single animal investment made by the park.

It includes a three acre 'drive past', a network of pools, waterfall and evening/all weather accommodation.

"It is our most popular exhibit ever and the amount of interest is absolutely unprecedented," Ms Jackson said.

She said in her 17 years at the park she can only remember one other time when visitors had to be shut out.

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