The classical singer, known as ‘the people’s tenor’, toured the award-winning park and as well as encountering playful lemurs and feeding the giraffes, got up close to lions, tigers and rhinos during the visit yesterday.
The singer and his family were relaxed as they strolled around the innovative 110-acre site at Branton.
Russell, who has performed in front of millions of fans over a glittering 20-year career and has given special concerts to world leaders, wanted to sample the special atmosphere of the park before performing his Safari Nights concert on August 25 as part of his prestigious UK tour.
His guided tour featured the park’s latest arrivals, the endangered Ussuri brown bears who are settling in to their new home after a remarkable rescue mission and a 5,400-mile journey from Japan to Yorkshire.
Afterwards Russell said: ”My family and I had the most fantastic day out at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. We enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to feed some of the animals - everything from lions and tigers, to giraffes, and my favourite, a rhino.
“The staff were so accommodating and well-informed about the animals they look after. It was truly fantastic to see the passion and care they have for the animals in their charge.
“I can’t wait to return and play WildLive Safari Nights 2015. We’re going to have a superb show. See you all there!”
YWP director Cheryl Williams added: “It was great to welcome Russell and his family to the park and just like all our visitors he was amazed by the animals and that they could get almost face-to-face with some of the most endangered species on the planet.
“We are all looking forward to his Safari Nights concert on the August Bank Holiday Saturday which should be a classic.”
Safari Nights continues to be a huge success at YWP with visitors able to experience its walkthrough wildlife adventure after normal closing times before heading to see world-class performers on stage.
More than 4,500 guests enjoyed former Westlife singer Shane Filan as he rocked the park with a string of hits at a memorable concert last Saturday.
Mercury award-winning star and voice of M People Heather Small is the next star on the line up on August 18 with Russell Watson crowning an incredible roster of acts with the final Safari Nights performance of the summer on August 25.
Concert tickets include entry to the award winning Wildlife Park during the day and entertainment starts on the Wildlife Concert Stage from 7pm – 9pm with a bangless fireworks finale.
Concert tickets are still available for the upcoming Safari Nights which includes general admission to the park and children under 3 go free.
Visit the Yorkshire Wildlife Park website www.yorkshirewildlifepark.com to purchase tickets