Longleat launches wild photographer challenge for 50th anniversary

Simon King in the meerkat colony at Longleat

Longleat is launching a nationwide competition to find two wild amateur photographers of the year to feature in a new exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of their safari park.

In April 1966 Longleat hit the headlines around the world when it became the first place outside of Africa to open a safari park.

To mark this historic event, a major new photographic exhibition showcasing the Wiltshire attraction’s ‘animal heroes’ is set to open at Easter 2016.

The exhibition will feature a series of unique new images taken at Longleat by renowned TV wildlife presenter, photographer and cameraman Simon King as well as the winning photographers’ work.

Simon, who lives near Frome, is a familiar face on television having appeared on numerous wildlife programmes including ‘Springwatch’, ‘Autumnwatch’, ‘Big Cat Diary’ and, most recently, he has been filming for ‘The Hunt’ documentary series on BBC, narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton said: “We want the new exhibition to feature images seen through the eyes of our visitors.

“We are looking for photographs which celebrate our ‘animal heroes’ and successfully captures their wonder, magic and majesty in this unique and historic setting,” he added.

A team of judges, including Simon King, will decide on the two winners and, as well as having their images put on public display as part of the new exhibition, they will also get to spend the day at Longleat taking photographs with Simon.

There will be two categories; a junior section for youngsters under 15 years of age and a senior one for all other ages.

“It has been a delight to work with the animals in Longleat, seeing just how well they fare and how naturally they behave in this magnificent setting,” said Simon.

“My aim with the images I’m taking is to get inside the world of the animals – to be part of the pride!” he added.

As well as many of the iconic animals from the Safari Park, Simon is also planning to feature a variety of other species, including the deer and other native species, which have a special connection with the 500-year-old estate.

For full details on the competition, how to submit images and closing dates visit http://www.longleat.co.uk/photographer-of-the-year Entries can be submitted from any visit to Longleat since 2014.