The unexpected heatwave saw Chester Zoo record its highest ever visitor numbers for an October weekend.
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As the country bathed in sunshine, over 20, 000 people passed through the zoo’s gates on Saturday and Sunday – almost double the previous highest of 10, 416 in 2007.
Elephants were seen cooling off by splashing about in pools as keepers gave them extra hose downs, while the spectacled bears were spotted tucking into frozen water melon.
Managing Director Barbara Smith (below left) said: "Our animals like to make the most of the sunshine and our visitors certainly seemed to enjoy it too.
“It was about time we finally had some nice, warm weather and the more days we can have like that the better. When people visit the zoo, they’re actually supporting the huge number of conservation projects we are involved with – both in the UK and all around the world. So, to have had so many visitors last weekend helps us to do more and more good work, which is fantastic.”
The zoo is now hoping for another bumper week as its Dinosaurs at Large! exhibition – the biggest to ever take pace in a UK zoo – draws to a close.
Ms Smith added: “This week offers the last chance people will have to come see our superb Dinosaurs at Large! exhibition before it becomes extinct.
“The dinosaurs have really captured people’s imaginations and offered something completely different. But, after Oct 9, they’ll be dismantled, packed up and shipped back to the States. So if you’ve not yet had chance to come and see them yet, we’d urge to hurry before it’s too late.”
The zoo welcomed its one millionth visitor four weeks earlier than in 2010, having seen attendance rocket since the opening of Dinosaurs at Large! in July.