This month, as part of Longleat’s Festival of Light event, a selection of the estate’s safari animals came face to face with their Chinese lantern counterparts.

The Wiltshire attraction’s festival is an outdoor event, which features thousands of illuminated artworks.

Alongside figures from Chinese history, myth and legend; including emperors, soldiers from the terracotta army and a giant dragon boat, the team of Chinese designers also created their own version of Longleat’s safari residents.

The park’s keepers were so impressed they decided to see how the real lions, zebras and monkeys reacted to their silk recreations.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton said: “The Chinese artists spent a long time studying the various animals to try and get them just right so it was fascinating to see how they compared in real life.

“The zebra was particularly impressive and really blended in with the rest of the herd. Our male lions were less sure of their female lookalike and were particularly surprised when she fell over as soon as they touched her.

“Surprisingly our macaque monkeys, which are usually extremely confident and inquisitive, were quite puzzled by their silk cousins.

“We thought that it would only be a matter of time before they jumped on them but they actually kept their distance and perhaps they have finally met their match,” he added.

The Festival of Light, which is running until 3rd January, features 23,000 individual lanterns, alongside a 20 metre tall porcelain pagoda made out of 80,000 porcelain cups, bowls and plates.

Among the other artworks is a 50-metre-long floating dragon boat, the Chinese zodiac and a recreation of the famous terracotta army.

Group travel information

GTOs can take advantage of a number of benefits when booking a group visit. Discounted rates for pre-booked parties of 12 or more are available, as well as a free ticket for the organiser when booking for groups of over 30 people.

Free coach parking plus a free ticket and a lunch voucher for the coach driver are also offered.

For more information call 01985-844328 or visit www.longleat.co.uk.