15 March 2018

New figures, released by The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) which represents the UK’s busiest and most iconic museums, galleries, palaces, castles, cathedrals, wildlife parks, heritage sites, gardens and leisure attractions, revealed the zoo attracted 1,866,628 people in 2017. 

It is the seventh year in succession that the zoo has achieved the accolade.

Zoo bosses have attributed the success to visitors wanting to be part of our conservation mission to prevent the extinction of species around the world.

Jamie Christon, Chester Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer, said:

“We are proud to say that this is a golden era for Chester Zoo. In 2017 we welcomed more than 1.86m visitors for the second year in a row, a feat that has never previously been achieved since the zoo first opened in 1931.“We know that developing major visitor experiences is crucial – such as our vast new South East Asian ‘Islands’ habitats for sun bears, tapirs and songbirds – and our appearances on Channel 4’s The Secret Life of The Zoo have helped spread the word about our offer. But we also strongly believe that visitors are moved to spend their leisure time with us because we are a world leading conservation charity; every individual to walk through our gates is helping fund urgent work preventing extinction here in the UK and across the globe. We thank each and every one of them for their support.”

Chester Zoo currently supports over 80 projects that are fighting to prevent extinction in around 30 countries worldwide and is also ranked as the UK’s best and third best zoo in the world by users of the travel website, TripAdvisor.

Red panda Nima at Chester Zoo – named England’s top visitor attraction outside of London in a new report

So far in 2018 the zoo has got off to its busiest ever start to a year and last month unveiled a revamped penguin habitat with bigger pool, state-of-the-art filtration and renewed nesting facilities and improved viewing through larger windows.

A host of new developments for visitors are also set to open over the next 12 months including the transformation of the building at the heart of Chester Zoo’s history, The Oakfield – the inspirational home of the zoo’s founder George Mottershead – into a gastro pub with stunning garden room.

Work is also underway on an immersive walk-through Madagascan forest which will allow visitors to get closer to the zoo’s lemurs than ever before.

Longer term, a huge new grasslands zone inspired by a variety of African habitats – from scrublands to deserts – will be created featuring a whole host of species.

The plans are designed to reaffirm our position as one of the best conservation, animal and leisure attractions in the world.

2017 Visitor Figures

How Chester Zoo compared to other zoo attractions in 2017.

Rank Site Total visits Charge/free % +/- Group Note
1 British Museum 5,906,716 F -8%
2 Tate Modern 5,656,004 C -3% TATE
3 National Gallery 5,229,192 F -16.5%
4 NHM (South Kensington) 4,434,520 F -4% NHM
5 V&A South Kensington 3,789,748 F/C 26% V&A a
6 Science Museum 3,251,000 F/C 0.17% SMG
7 Southbank Centre 3,232,655 F/C -17.3% b
8 Somerset House 3,223,350 F/C -6.8% a
9 Tower of London 2,843,031 C 3.7% HRP
10 Royal Museums Greenwich 2,607,099 F/C 2%
11 National Museum of Scotland 2,165,601 F/C 20% NMS
12 Edinburgh Castle 2,063,709 C 16% HES
13 Chester Zoo 1,866,628 C -1.8%
28 ZSL London Zoo 1,102,790 C -9.7% ZSL
58 ZSL Whipsnade Zoo 658,200 C -2.2%
58 Edinburgh Zoo 642,677 C -9%

Take a look at the full 2017 ALVA figures here

2016 Visitor Figures

How Chester Zoo compared to other zoo attractions in 2016.

Rank Site Total visits Charge/free % +/- Group Note
1 British Museum 6,420,395 F -5.9%
2 National Gallery 6,262,839 F 6%
3 Tate Modern 5,839,197 F 23.91% TATE
4 NHM (South Kensington) 4,6244,113 F/C -12% NHM
5 Southbank Centre 3,909,376 F/C -23% a
6 Somerset House 3,443,220 F/C 6.4%
7 Science Museum 3,245,750 F/C -3.2% SMG
8 Victoria and Albert Museum (South Kensington)  3,022,086 F/C -12% VAM
9 Tower of London 2,741,126 C -2% HRP
10 Royal Museums Greenwich 2,451,023 F/C -0.2% b
11 National Portrait Gallery 1,949,330 F/C -9.0%
12 Chester Zoo 2,063,709 C 12%
13 Kew Gardens 1,828,956 F/C 18.6% RBGK
27 ZSL London Zoo 1,211,279 C -0.3% ZSL
52 ZSL Whipsnade Zoo 672,851 C 1.4% ZSL
62 Edinburgh Zoo 574,175 C -9.3%

Take a look at the full 2016 ALVA figures here. 

Chester Zoo has also been named the best zoo in the UK according to Tripadvisor since 2015.  

2015 10 best rated zoos in the UK

1. Chester Zoo, Chester, Cheshire
2. Colchester Zoo, Colchester, Essex
3. Blackpool Zoo, Blackpool, Lancashire
4. Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Burford, Oxfordshire
5. Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo, Begelly, South Wales
6. Paignton Zoo, Paignton, Devon
7. Durrell Wildlife Park, Trinity, Jersey
8. Drusillas Park, Berwick, East Sussex
9. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire
10. Axe Valley Wildlife Park, Axminster, DevonRead official press release here >

2017 10 best rated zoos in the WORLD

1. Loro Parque, Puerto de la Cruz, Spain2. San Diego Zoo, San Diego, United States3. Chester Zoo, Chester, United Kingdom4. Singapore Zoo, Singapore5. Prague Zoo, Prague, Czech Republic6. St. Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, United States7. Tiergarten Schoenbrunn – Zoo, Vienna, Austria8. ZooParc de Beauval, Saint Aignan, France9. Bioparc Valencia, Valencia, Spain10. Folly Farm, Begelly, United Kingdom