9 Mar 2015
Boat cable being installed at Chester Zoo

Islands will recreate habitats from six areas in South East Asia – Panay, Papua, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi – and provide a home for a number of animals classed as critically endangered in the wild, including Sumatran tigers, Sumatran orangutans and Visayan warty pigs. Gareth Simpson, the zoo’s operations implementation manager, said:“Installing the boat cable is one of many, many challenging tasks we’ve already tackled on this exciting, but incredibly complex, project. The team from the zoo battled the elements, deep mud and high water to lay the cable. Such is the level of expertise needed on this project, an expert from Germany who has worked with cable cars, then joined us to advise on how to connect it all up to the mechanical wheels. The 14 boats that will be towed by the cable weigh over 11 tonnes and can carry up to 238 visitors at any one time, so installing it was no mean feat. I’m pleased to say that it’s all now starting to come together nicely and we can’t wait for June.”The boat trip, labelled the Lazy River Boat Journey, is just one part of the Islands development, which the zoo says will make visitors feel like they are on their own conservation expedition. 

Island facts

    • Islands is the biggest and most ambitious zoo project in UK history
    • Work began in August 2013
    • It is set to open in June 2015
    • It is currently one of the biggest construction sites in the UK
    • Visitors will move through recreations of habitats from Panay, Papua, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi, walking through different levels, travelling in boats and seeing buildings just like the real thing. It will create the feeling of an expedition and make visitors feel like they’re following in the footsteps of the great explorers
    • 42,000 plants will be used to recreate the environments of the six different islands
    • The flagship indoor building that will be part of Islands will be called the Monsoon Forest – the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK. It will be totally unique in this country and will feature free flight birds, Sumatran orangutans, Sulawesi macaques and Sunda gharial crocodiles
    • Other animals include anoa, banteng, babirusa, Bali starling, cassowary, Indonesian wrinkled hornbill, lorikeet, Sumatran tiger and the Visayan warty pig
    • The zoo hopes that by showcasing animals like this, then visitors seeing animals in an even more naturalistic setting than ever before, will make more of an emotional connection with them. If people care about a species they’re more likely to help save them
    • The Lazy River Boat Journey will feature 14 boats, carrying 238 visitors at any one time, on a 15-minute-long trip
    • Website: www.chesterzoo.org/islands