Chester Zoo to open 6-hectare nature reserve

Chester Zoo is set to unveil a 6-hectare nature reserve adjacent to the main zoo that will provide a protected habitat for threatened British wildlife.

Opening on 27 April, the Chester Zoo nature reserve will be free for visitors to enter and will protect a range of plants and wildlife. The site is already known to be home to a variety of species such as kingfishers, hedgehogs and harvest mice, with reported occasional sightings otters and many others.

Part of the reserve is designated as a Local Wildlife Site for the important plants, birds and invertebrates recorded there.

Designed as a community place for relaxing and wildlife space for learning, Chester Zoo first built a small nature reserve in 2013. The new area is a 600% expansion, providing new and larger protected habitats for vulnerable species, and a bigger community space.

The new nature reserve will include a walking trail, fully accessible for buggies, wheelchairs and strollers.

Sarah Bird, biodiversity officer at Chester Zoo, said: “This area was formerly used for agriculture but over the past two years we have been carefully restoring it to allow nature to move in and thrive. It now comprises wildflower meadows, ponds, beetle banks, log piles, trees and a reedbed, with a hide for viewing the wildlife.

“Linking into the strip of wetland along the canal, the reserve provides a new wildlife refuge at the zoo and creates a corridor of habitat allowing species to move through the landscape when they need to.”

Last year, Chester Zoo unveiled a vision that will take it into 2030. The plan includes vast themed zones that will provide excellent habitats for animals, especially endangered species, as well as improve the visitor experience.