Hot on the heels of news that Chester Zoo has signed up its 100,000th member in May (read more, here) the zoo has announced that more than 224,000 people visited its animals last month – the busiest May on record for the 87-year-old attraction!
The historic month has been attributed to a ‘perfect storm’ of great weather combined with the launch of new habitats in the zoo’s South East Asian Islands zone; a major Wild Worlds garden festival; a host of important rare animal births and the publicity from hit TV show, The Secret Life of The Zoo.
Crucially, the zoo’s bosses also believes that public support and understanding of wildlife conservation is at an all-time high.
Chester Zoo is already England’s most visited tourist attraction outside London, with almost 1.9m people visiting last year.
Now, the conservation charity has publicly issued a “thank you” to its visitors for their continued support.
Proceeds from ticket sales help to fund endangered species breeding projects in Chester and programmes around the world to prevent extinction.
The zoo’s conservation teams are fighting against issues such as the illegal wildlife trade, human wildlife conflict and habitat loss.
Jamie Christon, chief operating officer at Chester Zoo, said: “The zoo was first opened in 1931 and never before have we recorded such high visitor numbers in May.
“The previous record was 191,000 in 2016, so to welcome more than 224,000 people this year is remarkable.”
He added: “The zoo has grown over the years. We’re now a 125 acre site, home to 21,000 animals, so we feel comfortable welcoming such large numbers of people – and we know that offering a magical experience for our guests is crucial.
“We’d like to publicly thank each and every person who has walked through our gates. As a global charity fighting to protect species worldwide, we cannot achieve success without public support.
“Across the world right now, wildlife is under threat. Conservation is critical and urgent. But together, we are preventing extinction.”
The birth of an endangered Asian elephant calf and a rare greater one-horned-rhino were notable successes of the zoo’s conservation breeding programmes in May.
Other new arrivals at the zoo included four Pallas’s cats – also known as ‘the world’s fluffiest cat’ – and a little known species called a tree kangaroo which has moved into a specially designed habitat in the South East Asian Islands zone.
At the end of May the zoo launched its summer-long garden festival, Wild Worlds, which highlights the science behind rare botanics conservation through nine outdoor art installations and a packed event programme.
Additionally, series five of The Secret Life of the Zoo, Channel 4’s successful observational documentary, aired throughout May.