The ground-breaking ceremony at Chester Zoo marks the start of Islands, the largest zoo development in the history of Great Britain.
Zoo president, the Duke of Westminster, and director general Mark Pilgrim expressed their delight at the start of the first phase of construction on the historic zoo development project.
Beginning in early 2015, threatened animals like orang-utans, anoas and the Asian giant turtle will find a home in the theme world’s with its 4, 000-square metre Monsoon Forest tropical greenhouse. Numerous behavioural enrichment elements provide a special highlight and not only play a significant role in catering to the species-specific, caretaking needs of the animals but also add to the visitor’s experience.
‘The Islands ground-breaking ceremony is a special milestone for us. Since 2011, we have been working on the design phase of the project and I am very eager to see how this special project developes and how it will immerse visitors in the authentic natural and animal world of South East Asia’, says Kieran Stanley, CEO of dan pearlman Experience Architecture.
The Islands venture marks the very first time that a zoo has actively committed itself to nature and animal conservation whilst creating an authentic adventure that brings visitors closer to the flora and fauna of South Eastern Asia. The northern England zoo is a supporter of global initiatives for protecting biodiversity. These far-reaching activities, along with research findings and projects are portrayed and brought to life for visitors at the theme world – —from the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Bali to Sumatra, Sulawesi and Sumba.
The Islands’ adventure park is home to critically endangered animals species like the Sumatra tiger, the warty pig, or the cassowary, whose natural habitats have been recreated here as authentically as possible. This draws visitors in and allows them connect to their surroundings and the information presented. As a 60, 000-square metre holistic concept, the park showcases the full spectrum of dan pearlman’s interdisciplinary expertise.
Kieran Stanley sums up the special significance of the work for the Chester Zoo as follows: ‘It was a challenge and an honour to be given the responsibility to design everything from the architecture, the landscape and planting, the animal habitats, the boot ride, the communication design and strategy as well as the retail and restaurant. It has been very enriching for me working very closely with all the teams at the Zoo to create this unique experience and I am very excited to see the onsite progress, watching the whole thing take shape.’
The tour of the Indian Ocean island landscape features mangroves, swamps and tropical forests. The impressive landscape can be explored by foot, along the 1, 150-metre Jungle Trail, or over water. A total of fourteen boats allow visitors to discover the Islands on a 450-metre-long tour.
In the Monsoon Forest—Great Britain’s largest zoological greenhouse—the trail leads past the underwater world of the rare Sunda Gharial crocodile, the forested habitat of the orang-utans and the accessible aviary of tropical birds. Whilst walking past sixteen different buildings and features, miscellaneous details and a tightly-scripted layout bring an authentic theme world to life, which not only entertains visitors but provides them with lasting insight. In conjunction with a one-of-a-kind communications concept and strategy, one gains a deep understanding of the scientific work carried out at the Chester Zoo.
Images: Chester Zoo Islands concept art by dan pearlman