UK Zoo plans UK£ 225 million expansion

By Richard High03 February 2009

Chester Zoo's expansion plans include a rainforest-themed, domed eco-system - the only one in the UK

Chester Zoo's expansion plans include a rainforest-themed, domed eco-system - the only one in the UK.

The UK's Chester Zoo has revealed a UK£ 225 million (€ 247.9 million) expansion plan that will see it transformed into the largest conservation, animal and leisure attraction in Europe, according to the owners.

Phase 1, expected to cost UK£ 90 million (€ 99 million), will include a rainforest-themed, domed eco-system - the only one in the UK - and a 90-bed hotel, a Conservation College, a "key element" of which is the ‘Futures' education centre, and a new main entrance linking to a marina development on zoo land beside the Shropshire Union Canal.

Called ‘Heart of Africa', the bio-dome will be an African rainforest-themed home to a band of gorillas, a large troop of chimpanzees, Okapi (rare giraffe-like creatures), and a wide variety of tropical birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes and invertebrates, moving freely among vegetation.

The Heart of Africa bio-dome will include a series of connected domes, which can be explored through a jungle canopy-high walkway. An "interactive" water ride will provide views of the animal enclosures and themed retail and dining facilities will be incorporated.

The zoo currently occupies 50 ha of land but owns another 200. The completed Natural Vision project will cover 80 ha including new access roads and parking.

The rest of the project will be completed by 2018.

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