Council in talks to bring zoo to Greater Manchester

Council officials are in talks to bring a zoo to Greater Manchester, according to a report in the Manchester Evening News.

The ‘Manchester Zoo’ project is being developed by Johnpaul Houston, a former assistant head keeper at Blackpool Zoo. Possible areas include land around the path of the River Mersey, but no land has been decided and no planning permission has been submitted.

Mr Houston told the M.E.N. that he was hoping the first phase of the zoo would be open by summer 2020, to schools only before the general public.

Mr Houston has secured private, multi-million pound funding  for development, that is set to include big cats, penguins, birds of prey and themed attractions featuring other animals.

“A beacon within the community”

According to the business plan: “The over-arching objective is to become a leader for socio-economic advancement in the local area, in the field of conservation, sustainability and zoo education and research. The zoo aims to become a beacon within the community, drawing the community together and creating a unique environment in which to learn new skills, gain new drive and foster public well-being and community spirit.”

There will be different zones in the zoo, including display areas, treetop classrooms and a desert environment, grasslands and a forest zone.

Mr Houston said: “I want to use this to its highest potential in society, by utilising our unique and incredible zoo environment to promote learning, inclusion, research and personal development in people – and in particular in the guise of programmes designed specifically for the over 60’s, ex-military professionals, single parents and other spheres where important skills are all too often lost because there is a lack of flexibility in the working world for elements of people’s lives.

“Animals are cathartic. They’re healers of our mind and body and soul.

It is hoped the zoo will achieve a similar level of success as Chester Zoo.

Earlier this year, the Manchester Museum filed a planning application with the local council for a multi-million pound expansion of its complex. The plan calls for the construction of two new galleries and a new main entrance.

Image courtesy Manchester Zoo/Misty Nicholson

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