01 15/01/2016

Chester Zoo announces record visitor numbers

Chester Zoo will be increasing its efforts to conserve endangered species thanks to record breaking visitor numbers last year, new figures reveal.

Visitors at Chester Zoo in front of rhino
Visitors photograph one of nine critically endangered black rhino at Chester Zoo, a species the zoo works to help protect out in the field.

The zoo recorded 1,694,115 visits in 2015 - the highest ever in its 85 year history, and up 18% on the previous year.

Zoo memberships also hit new heights as 76,358 people signed up to be regular visitors, a 32% increase on the previous record held in 2014.

Chester Zoo, which is home to more than 12,500 animals and over 450 different species, is a registered charity with a mission to conserve the living world. The support of record breaking visitor numbers has helped to fund innovative work to save endangered species both within the zoo and around the world.

The figures come after the zoo was named the best zoo in the UK and within the top ten globally, following millions of reviews and opinions posted on the leading travel website, TripAdvisor.

Nandita - elephant calf at Chester Zoo
Nandita, the latest arrival to the zoo's Asian elephant family, is an ambassador for her species in the wild.

Jamie Christon, managing director at the zoo, said:

A huge thank you goes out to everyone who walked through our gates as, without their visit, we couldn’t help the hundreds of species that are fighting for survival in the wild. We rely on visitors to help fund around 100 vital conservation projects which are actively working to protect threatened species and the local communities that live alongside them, throughout the world.

That work includes a commitment to a wealth of ongoing research; sending our keepers abroad to offer hands on welfare and technical advice in the wild; and equipping rangers and field workers with the tools they need to protect endangered animals. Our expert staff also devote each day to the conservation of the living world right here in the zoo.

Coral Sands - Islands at Chester Zoo
After opening the UK’s largest ever zoo development, Islands, Chester Zoo achieved its highest visitor figures ever in 2015.

The increased visitor figures came as Chester Zoo launched Islands, the biggest expansion in UK zoo history. The new Islands zone recreates diverse habitats from South East Asia and showcases unique endangered species such as Sumatran tigers, cassowary birds and Sunda gharial crocodiles.

Jamie added:

Islands is a highly ambitious and unique development that has wildlife conservation at its heart. Not only does it showcase the diverse range of wildlife that lives in South East Asia, but it also puts a spotlight on Chester Zoo’s important work out in the field.

We’re really excited about the year ahead and we’ve got lots of exciting new projects planned. The zoo is always evolving and 2016 will bring new species and visitor experiences as we continue to offer everyone an unforgettable day out.

As part of ongoing conservation projects, the zoo sent a group of 12 staff to Assam, India, to work help protect wild Asian elephants that fall victim to human-wildlife conflict. Four Northern bald ibis chicks were moved to Jerez in Spain - as part of a breed and release programme - where the species was once extinct for over 300 years and six pairs of critically endangered Javan green magpies were flown from Indonesia to Chester in a bid to save them from extinction as their wild number fell to less than 100.

The zoo is also a major partner in Britain’s first ever carnivore recovery scheme where pine martens from Scotland have been translocated to the woodlands of mid-Wales to encourage thriving populations as they were thought to be nearly extinct.