29 Dec 2016

The plan is designed to enhance our position as one of the world’s best conservation, animal and leisure attractions, between now and 2030.New developments will allow our visitors to explore a huge grassland Savannah and trek across treetop forest walkways.Building on the success of our ground-breaking Islands habitats, which first opened in 2015 to bring South East Asia to life in Cheshire, the remainder of the zoo will be sensitively transformed through the creation of large scale themed zones.

From immersive forests to expansive grasslands, these zones will reflect our vital conservation work in the field worldwide.By creating environments for the conservation of highly threatened species not currently at the zoo, from pygmy hippos to Western lowland gorillas, new habitats will help us make an even more positive impact on the living world.

The improvements will continue to allow us to develop in the vision of our much loved founder George Mottershead by embodying his “always building” philosophy.We are already the UK’s most visited tourist attraction outside London, according to figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA). As a centre of excellence renown for breeding some of the world’s most endangered animals, we currently contribute more than £50m a year to the regional economy in the North West of England.The new developments will provide significant additional economic, social and environmental benefits not only for Chester but at a regional, national and global level.

Dr Mark Pilgrim, the zoo’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said:

Welcome to the future of Chester Zoo.The zoo is internationally recognised as a leading centre for animal conservation, education and science. It is already the UK’s premier wildlife attraction, welcoming over 1.9 million visitors a year.Our vision is to evolve from a national success story into a truly world class showcase for the wonderful, yet often threatened wildlife, and fantastic, but fragile, habitats on Earth.As a beacon of excellence here in the north of England – we are creating an internationally renowned centre of the highest quality, providing a wide range of employment, education and economic benefits. At the same time the development will inspire millions to appreciate and treasure the rich and remarkable biodiversity of our planet.

As part of the development plan, a proposed grasslands area will be inspired by a variety of African habitats – from scrublands to deserts – characterised by large, open landscape habitats containing multiple species. A forests zone will be a dramatic experience for visitors, full of vertical layers with views not just from the ground but at a high level too.