Chester Zoo will transform an unoccupied part of its estate into the islands of the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi.
Linked by a series of bridges and including a journey on water, the development will be home to animals and plants from south east Asian islands including new species such as Banteng and the Sunda Gavial crocodile.
Other animal species will include Sumatran tigers, orangutans, Indonesian rhinoceros hornbills, Sulawesi macaques and exotic birds such as the lorikeet.
Visitors will head off on a conservation expedition, dubbed Kayamaman meaning treasure, from a man-made beach front.
Dr Mark Pilgrim, Director General of Chester Zoo, said: “Islands will see the dawning of a new age for zoos and it will be an unparalleled experience. Although the animals, both new and existing, will provide a huge draw for visitors, the experience of the journey with the sights, smells and colours of nature and culture of these Islands will be brought to life in all their glory, creating a treasure trove of experiences right here in Cheshire and a zoo visit unlike any other.
“For many of our visitors, taking a trip to these islands is just a dream. But we will be making those dreams a reality, transporting our visitors thousands of miles away to experience the splendour of the animals, plants and cultural aspects of these far-flung places. It will be the first time a UK zoo has attempted anything on this scale and will confirm Chester Zoo’s position as a world leader.”
The £30 million venture will showcase the zoo’s Act for Wildlife conservation activities as visitors navigate their way through mangroves, swamps, bamboo and tropical forests.
Islands includes a major new Indonesian jungle house, which will be the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK and home to the orangutans, and retail and catering outlets. It is expected that it will take zoo visitors an hour and a half to make their journey.
Designed by architects from the Dan Pearlman group in Germany, the whole project also homes in on the different vegetation and architecture seen on the various islands
Work is expected to start early in 2013 with the entire zone planned to open to the public by Easter 2015.
Notes to editors
Chester Zoo is a registered conservation charity that supports projects around the world and closer to home in Cheshire. Welcoming 1.4 million visitors a year, it is the largest zoo in the UK; home to 8000 animals, 400 different species, many of which are endangered.
Chester Zoo also acts for Act for Wildlife through its wildlife conservation campaign, helping to save endangered species around the world from extinction. Find out more at www.actforwildlife.org.uk.
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