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Looking after lions can be a busy and dangerous business, as one safari park keeper explains. Brian Reid is Head Keeper of carnivores at Blair Drummond Safari Park and agreed to take STV’s <em>five thirty show</em> through his daily routine.
The park houses 12 African lions and two Siberian tigers, who require careful attention and hard work to ensure they are happy in their environment and subsequently safe for exposure to the public.
Reid said: “I love the fact I’m spending time with these magnificent animals. The first job of the day is looking over the lions, checking their condition, seeing if they’ve got any wounds, so if there’s any problems I can get the vet in before the park opens.
“At the start of the day I go around visually checking the fences, checking the electric current to see if the fences are working. Daily I go along and see if they’ve been digging. But everything seems fine today.”
To keep the big cats entertained the keepers have to set up a series of ‘play toys’ to keep them interested and entertained.
“Now I’m just going to do some lion enrichment,” said Reid. “I’m going to get this barrel and hook it up to this (hook), fill it with chopped up pieces of meat and hopefully they’ll come and play with it later on.”
And of course the most important thing needed to keep the lions fulfilled; their food.
“Now it’s time to get the lions out for the day. Got to spread the meat around; that stops them fighting so much over it. They tend to get one piece of meat a day just to keep their diet under control, make sure they’re not getting too fat. In the wild lions wouldn’t eat every day of the week. They’d probably get a kill maybe once a week if they’re lucky.”
Reid continued: “When the lions are out, usually the rest of my day is sitting watching the lions. You’ve got to watch them for climbing, digging under the fence, fighting, seeing if any of them are injured.”
But Reid insists his day isn’t spent just lounging around.
He added: “You’ve also got to watch people because people tend to think that they’re pretty tame lions, which they’re not. We try and keep them as wild as possible. You get people coming in wanting to have picnics in the lions section, getting out their cars. So you’ve really got to go over and tell them to stay in the cars or they’d be lunch.”
For more information on Brian's safari park, log on to www.blairdrummond.com