Visitors flock to stately home

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The Independent Online
Visitors to one of Britain's top wildlife attractions refused to be put off by foot-and-mouth disease as it opened its doors for the first time since the outbreak. Visitors to one of Britain's top wildlife attractions refused to be put off by foot-and-mouth disease as it opened its doors for the first time since the outbreak.

Dozens flocked to Longleat safari park in Wiltshire and were personally welcomed by the Marquess of Bath. Park officials said numbers were down from their opening last year but said they were encouraged by the number of families coming in.

The Marquess said: "I am delighted to welcome visitors to see the lions and labyrinths of Longleat as well as all my other fabulous attractions. The last few months have been an extremely difficult time for everyone."

Longleat should have opened on Saturday March 24 but the opening was delayed amid fears that visitors could spread the infectious disease. But park officials decided to push ahead with the tourist season after consulting MAFF vests and local farmers.

Visitors were today being invited to see the lion, tiger and wolf enclosures, but sections of the centre housing giraffes, elephants, lamas, tapirs, antelopes and camels were out of bounds as they are all potentially vulnerable.

A monkey enclosure was also sectioned off because it is housed in the middle of the hoofed animal enclosures. Visitors were only allowed to use one entrance and exit, with cars being sprayed with disinfectant several times during their tour of the site.

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