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Islands: Chester Zoo unveils “World Class Animal & Visitor Experience”

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AN EXCITING and ambitious development that will transform Chester Zoo was unveiled yesterday.

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The 110-acre zoo, which attracts 1.3 million visitors a year, is to create a world-class animal and visitor experience given the working title Islands. Islands will be the largest zoo development of its kind in Britain.

Connected by a boat ride, Islands will pull together some of the zoo’s key animal species – Sumatran orangutans, Sumatran tigers, Sun bears, Malayan tapir, various lemurs, Sumatran and Philippine crocodiles, hornbills, Visayan warty pigs, spotted deer, Komodo Dragons, Babirusa pigs and other birds, reptiles and invertebrates – to create an exciting, themed and educational experience.

Dr Mark Pilgrim, Chester Zoo’s Director General, said: “Being isolated means that islands often contain wonderfully unique yet highly threatened wildlife. The diversity and individual character of islands makes them exciting places to explore. Islands will be a world-class development of the south west side of the zoo that will create an unparalleled visitor experience.

“This will be an all-year round adventure which will be exciting and enjoyable. Islands will also gives us a great opportunity to showcase our conservation programmes and activities in Sumatra, Madagascar, Mascarenes, Philippines and Indonesia where we have a real impact on conserving nature. This is a very exciting day for the zoo and I am delighted to unveil this major next step for us.”

The £30 million Islands experience will include educational exhibits, play areas, restaurants and village-style food stands. The project is the first phase of the Natural Vision development to be rolled out and the Islands plans are currently being designed.

The Heart of Africa biodome, which was due to be the first phase, has been postponed for now due to Government funding cuts.

Work on the Islands experience, which will connect various parts of the zoo, is expected to start in 2012 and take 18 months to complete.

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