27 Dec 2014


Golden mantella frogs were implanted with a fluorescent silicone gel, which allows keepers to easily identify individuals in their group of 80 frogs.

It was the first time the technique had ever been attempted on the tiny Madagascan frog, which weighs less than just one gramme.  

The unique and innovative tags were monitored by amphibian experts who deemed them a great success. 

The zoo’s curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates, Dr Gerardo Garcia, has since travelled to Madagascar to train local conservationists in how to deploy the method to track the progress of the critically endangered species in the wild.


Grevy’s zebra foal Merida became the first of her kind to be born at the zoo in 34 years when she arrived in February to first-time parents Nadine and Mac.

The Grevy’s zebra is an endangered species found in small and isolated populations in Ethiopia and Northern Kenya where it’s thought that fewer than 2,500 are left. 


The zoo released the first video animation of how its new £30m Islands project will look.

The computer-generated footage of the “biggest and most ambitious development in UK zoo history” was issued to mark the start of English Tourism Week.

Islands will see visitors set off an expedition – moving through detailed recreations of habitats in the Philippines, Bali, Sulawesi, Papua, Sumba and Sumatra. They will walk over bridges, travel in boats and see buildings that are architecturally identical to those found in South East Asia.

It will open in spring 2015. See more on our special Islands website here.


Vets, keepers and doctors swung into action as 49kg orangutan Vicky successfully underwent a sinus operation – the first time the procedure had ever been carried out in the UK.

Vicky, a Bornean orangutan, was actually from Blackpool Zoo but, along with three other orangutans, was staying at Chester whilst a new exhibit in Blackpool was being built.

Chester Zoo vet Steve Unwin said:

It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to do this for Vicky.  Her chronic sinusitis may have made her feel ‘thick headed’ and made her more susceptible to picking up infections. This operation will dramatically improve things for her, make her much more comfortable.


Primate experts at the zoo began a study on their orangutans’ teeth in a bid to help conservation projects thousands of miles away in Malaysia and Indonesia, where the animals often need to be moved if they come into conflict with humans, or their habitat is threatened by deforestation.

To decide if they can move the animals safely, conservationists need to know if they’re old enough to live independently. Young orangutans are dependent on their mother for eight to nine years – longer than any other animal apart from humans. However it’s very difficult to tell the age of an orangutan. 

That’s why keepers at the zoo started gathering new information on the emergence of teeth in their young orangutans – to help improve age estimations of orangutans observed in the wild and orphaned orangutans in rehabilitation facilities in South East Asia, whose dates of birth are usually unknown. 


Four-year-old spectacled bear Bernardo arrived from the USA as part of the zoo’s plans to breed the animals.

It’s rare that any zoo animals travel between Europe and the USA but Bernardo’s move brought important new blood to the European population of spectacled bears – a species classed by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as being vulnerable to extinction in the wild.


Staff carried out an annual health check on a 23ft-long python – including using ultrasound to scan its heart.

Reticulated pythons are the longest species of snake in the world so it took a team of 12 people to examine it.

The huge reptile – named JF – is thought to be one of the largest of her kind in Europe weighing in at around 60kgs.


A male Philippine mouse deer described as “not much bigger than a rabbit” moved to the zoo in August

The little deer – one of the smallest hoofed animals in the world – is one of just 15 to be found in zoos in Europe and is currently the only one of his kind in the UK.

But the zoo hopes to eventually find a female as part of its plans to join the endangered species breeding programme for the threatened animals.


Our Zoo, a six-part TV drama based on the inspiring story of the zoo’s founder George Mottershead and his family in the 1930s, opened on BBC One. 

The drama followed George’s incredible journey as he drove himself and his family to realise his ambition to transform a ramshackle house on the outskirts of Chester into a unique visitor attraction that would change forever the way zoos keep animals.


A six-week-old white-faced saki monkey made its debut, hitching a ride with mum Tabiti.

Keepers described Tabiti as a ‘great mum’ and dad Kwinti as a ‘protective dad.’

White-faced saki monkeys are found in tropical rainforests in parts of South America.



A female hazel dormouse is held by a member of the zoo’s conservation team. 

The zoo is working with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Wildlife Trusts to collect scientific data on the dormice – a rare species which is protected in the UK and Europe.

The project, in which each individual dormouse is microchipped, is providing important information on dormouse habitat use, life expectancy, population size and breeding behaviour which is helping to guide more effective dormouse conservation in the UK.

The project has been running for 10 years making it the biggest study of its type to be carried out on a small mammal species in the UK.


Christmas came early for keepers with the very special delivery of a rare Rothschild giraffe calf.

The 6ft (1.8m) youngster – a female named Zahra – was born in the early hours of December 22 to mum Aiofe and dad Meru.

Curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, Tim Rowlands, said:

Giraffes give birth standing up and the calves fall about 6ft – so they really do come down to Earth with a bump. But we’re happy to report that our new, not so little, youngster is doing well and is already confident on her long legs.

Everyone at the zoo is thrilled with our newcomer and she has really added to our Christmas and New Year celebrations.