The zoo welcomed more than 1.4 million people in 2012 with an influx of new animal arrivals helping to drive visitors through the gates.
The results, released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), also showed the zoo to be the 15th most visited attraction in the UK – putting it ahead of other UK wildlife attractions.
Chester Zoo’s Director General Dr Mark Pilgrim said:
“For the second year running we have stolen a march on attractions outside of the capital – every year we bring something new for the visitors to give them the very best day out. We had a host of new arrivals last year with our breeding successes including elephant and rhino calves, giant otter pups, orangutans and other species, all of which have been important for conservation but also a big draw for visitors.
“The zoo is constantly evolving and we were the first to bring robotic dinosaurs to a UK zoo. This year we’ll be notching up another first with 13 fantastic animatronic bugs. Exhibitions like this are a great platform to educate visitors about some really important species but also provide extra touches to an already great day out!”
The zoo continues to build on its success and in early summer it will begin work on its new £30 million Islands experience. An unoccupied part of its estate will be transformed 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, Islands will be home to animals and plants from south east Asian islands including new species such as Banteng and the Sunda Gavial crocodile.