A Madagascan adventure, Asiatic lions, extinct predators and a whole lot of Lego!
Conservationists at Chester Zoo have announced major plans for new habitats and visitor experiences in 2019.
The large-scale programme includes the arrival of previously unseen species at the zoo, such as rare lemurs to mysterious fossas.
The animals will inhabit the zoo’s major new Madagascar habitat when it opens to the public this Easter.
A spokesperson said: “Madagascar is home to stunning wildlife found nowhere else on Earth. Five percent of the worlds’ animal and plant species are only found on the island.
“The zoo’s Madagascar zone will bring wildlife conservation to life through detailed recreations of stunning forest habitats.
“Visitors will be able to recreate a conservationist’s expedition by walking among the lemurs.”
Later in the year, from autumn 2019, visitors will be invited to discover an expansive new habitat created for the zoo’s endangered Asiatic lions.
The specially designed area is inspired by the Gir National Park region of India, which is home to the last surviving wild population Asiatic lions, with fewer than 500 left on the planet.
The state-of-the-art new lion habitat will feature raised earth hilltop viewing points for the lions to survey their ‘savannah’, as well as heated rocks, a water hole and a sandy beach area.
The multi-million pound investment in new habitats is part of a major long-term plan to transform the zoo into spectacular zones, inspired by the global regions where the zoo’s conservationists work.
2019 will also see a range of hands-on exhibitions for families to explore and learn from.
Opening in May, a major ‘Predators’ experience will see the arrival of huge animatronic hunters at the zoo.
Spanning 200 million years of history, these long-extinct mega-beasts include everything from dinosaurs to a giant bear and unimaginable sea creatures.
Soonest of all, from February, a specially created ‘Lego: Big Cats’ exhibition and trail through the zoo will reveal a pride of life-sized cat species (all made from Lego) as well as some never-before-seen re-creations of other zoo animals.
Made from thousands of Lego bricks, the models include animals specially constructed by master builders.
Jamie Christon, chief operating officer at Chester Zoo, commented: “2019 is set to be a special year for us.
“The new animal habitats will help us to continue our world leading conservation work for the species in our care, from rare lemurs in Madagascar to endangered Asiatic lions.
“As an education charity, it is vital that we also continue to engage visitors in this mission.
“We hope to bring visitors closer to the animals than ever before by giving them the chance to walk with lemurs, taking an expedition right into the heart of the forest, just as you can do in the wilds of Madagascar. People will not forget this experience.”
He continued: “By inspiring a life-long connection to wildlife, we hope to create the conservationists of the future.
“There are plenty more experiences to inspire learning and play in 2019.
“With more than 20,000 animals, you might think there’s little you can’t already see at Chester Zoo, but in 2019 we’ll also be bringing you life-sized animatronic re-creations of extinct predators, ranging across 200 million years of history.
“And before all this, the zoo will become over-run with Lego animals.”
Jamie added: “We were humbled to greet more visitors in 2018 than at any time in Chester Zoo’s long history.
“Every person through our gates helps to prevent extinction by supporting our vital work as a conservation charity. We look forward to welcoming each and every visitor back again in 2019.”
CHESTER ZOO LISTINGS:
Lego: Big Cats
Wednesday 13th February – Tuesday 30th April 2019
The world’s biggest felines – from lions to tigers, cheetahs and leopards – spectacularly constructed from thousands of Lego bricks! A major exhibition of 12 life-sized big cats will be joined by a host of other specially created Lego animals on public display for the first time. Families are invited to explore a trail through the zoo, marvel at the big cats display, have a go at creating their own animal models, and join the zoo rangers to discover more about big cats!
Madagascar is home to stunning wildlife found nowhere else on Earth. Five percent of the worlds’ animal and plant species are only found on the island. Chester Zoo’s major new Madagascar zone will bring wildlife conservation to life through detailed recreations of stunning forest habitats for visitors to explore. Visitors will be able to take a true expedition through the forest. Walking among rare lemurs and spot the mysterious fossa, Madagascar’s largest carnivore.
May – September 2019
A major Predators experience will invite visitors to travel back in time. Spanning more than 200 million years of history, huge life-sized animatronic hunters will be on display at Chester Zoo throughout summer 2019. These enormous, long extinct mega-beasts include everything from dinosaurs to a giant bear and unimaginable sea creatures! With so many animals today threatened with extinction, this thrilling exhibition could not come at a more relevant time.
From autumn 2019, visitors will discover an expansive new habitat for the zoo’s endangered Asiatic lions. Inspired by the dry forest and savannah habitats of Gir National Park in India, the only place in the world where Asiatic lions still range, the new area has been specially created by the zoo’s conservationists, who are caring for the species as part of a European endangered species breeding programme.