Castle Combe to Become a Safari Park

In a press release embargoed until today it was announced that Castle Combe circuit is to become a Safari Park.

The village of Castle Combe is already famous for its connections with films where the animals are the stars, with the original 'Dr Dolittle' and 'War Horse' both having been filmed there.

Now, the nearby motor racing circuit is to extend the animal connection even further, with a proposal to open its own safari park.

Utilising the in-field of the 1.84 mile circuit (currently used for crop growing), the idea is to create an enclosure for animals, which visitors can view by driving around the circuit when it is not in use for racing.

Circuit M.D. Graham Marshallsay explains. "Because Castle Combe circuit is associated with exciting and thrilling entertainment, we want to focus on dangerous animals such as lions, tigers and rhinos. Safety will obviously be paramount, so we are planning a substantial moat, electrified fence and gun turrets so in the unlikely event of an escape the animals could be shot with tranquilising darts."

The project is seen as a long term one by the circuit, which plans to raise its own animals so they will gradually acclimatise to the racing environment. "Because the animals will effectively be surrounded by the track, there was a fear they could be frightened by the sound of the cars on race days. So the idea is to breed our own animals so they will become used to being in the middle of a race track. It's even possible they could enjoy the racing themselves and come to watch through the fence" said Marshallsay.

It's believed the combination of a race circuit and safari park is the first of its kind in the world. Renowned for its healthy spectator numbers, it's expected the new attraction will draw even bigger crowds to the circuit. Marshallsay said," Undoubtedly, some spectators come for the spins and spills and some may be hoping to see a driver making a mistake and ending up in the animal enclosure. But with a deep moat around the inside of the track, the drivers should be more concerned about being gobbled up by the alligators with which we intend to stock the moat than being eaten by a lion. Nevertheless, we will be feeding all the animals immediately before any race, just as a precaution."

If the proposal proves successful, it's anticipated smaller and less dangerous animals could be put on display in other parts of the circuit, with a monkey enclosure at 'Westway' and mountain goats on the banking at 'Quarry' Corner.

It is hoped to run a race within the next few years where all the cars are driven by monkeys, chimpanzees and baboons, though there is a rumour that this has heppened already.

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