Chester Zoo has celebrated a range of milestones in the past fortnight. First up they celebrated their millionth visitor for the year passing through the door followed by the opening of Monsoon Forest the largest indoor zoo exhibit ever built in the United Kingdom.
The landmark of one million visitors occurred on August 15th. This was 13 days prior to the previous record which was set on August 28 2013.
Managing director of Chester Zoo, Jamie Christon said, “We’re incredibly proud to have already welcomed one million visitors to the zoo this year, especially as it’s the earliest we have ever reached the milestone in our 84-year history. It’s a testament to all of our staff who work incredibly hard to make the zoo the very best it can be for our visitors.”
“Importantly, every visitor that comes through our gates contributes towards protecting biodiversity worldwide through the huge number of conservation projects that we support both here in the UK and overseas.”
July saw the zoo named as the seventh best zoo in the world and the best in the United Kingdom as ranked by TripAdvisor.
A big contributor to the zoo’s success this year has been the opening of Islands during July. This £40 million development is the largest ever undertaken in the United Kingdom and unique to Chester Zoo. It sets out to transport visitors to the Islands of South East Asia.
“We’re already regarded as one of the best zoo’s in the world but we’re always striving to become better and better, by continuing to evolve and offer something new. Earlier in the summer we opened the first phase of our new £40m Islands zone – the largest development in UK zoo history – which sees visitors set off on their own expedition, walking over bridges, travelling in boats and seeing buildings that are architecturally identical to those found on islands in South East Asia. It’s an experience that’s unlike any other in the UK.”
“It’s ambitious and unique offerings such as this that we hope will not only attract new visitors, but keep people coming back time and time again,” added Christon.
The new Monsoon forest development is the second of three phases of this exhibit and adds Sulawesi crested macaques, rhinoceros hornbills, tentacled snakes (not on shown anywhere else in the country), Asian Forest tortoise and two Sunda gharial crocodiles, Frank and Frankie. These monstrous creatures each weigh 500kg (1102lb).
Zoo director general, Dr Mark Pilgrim said, “The forests of South East Asia are home to a wide range of weird and wonderful species and, in Monsoon Forest, visitors will get to see a number of fascinating animals that come from the region, whist also learning about their environments and the threats they face. With forests being destroyed at an alarming rate, the loss of habitat is having a devastating impact on many wonderful animals and plants found in this part of the world, so it’s important that Monsoon Forest helps to raise awareness of these issues and gives our visitors the opportunity to help make a difference.”
“The opening of Monsoon Forest is a huge new chapter for the zoo and a very exciting point in our history.”
Each day the zoo transports people to South East Asia using the sounds of rolling thunder and a simulated rain storm. There is also the smell of starfruit, mango, paw paw and palm trees.
“Monsoon Forest is a phenomenal exhibit. It’s the largest zoological building in the UK; it’s highly immersive and it has been designed to exhilarate the senses – visitors will be greeted by the smell of exotic fruit, sounds of rolling thunder and the occasional sprinkling of rain. This new exhibit puts Chester Zoo at the cutting edge in terms of the way we’re displaying animals, engaging with visitors and conveying conservation messages,” added Pilgrim.
Later this year Chester Zoo will open phase three which will bring Sumatran tigers and orangutans along with the weird looking barbirusa to the habitat.
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo