The quiet Cheshire countryside holds Britain’s favourite wildlife attraction the Chester Zoo. Noted as one of the fifteen best zoos in the world by Forbes in 2007, the family-owned organization is famous for its conservation efforts and displaying the biodiversity of the world in innovative ways. A visit to this zoo is a great way to spend an educative day with children of all ages.
When George Mottershead started collecting animals as a hobby, he ended up with quite a collection that needed more room. After he was wounded in the First World War, he worked to make his dream of a private zoo come true and opened Chester Zoo in 1931. Working with new ideas of Carl Hagenbeck the enclosures for the animals were not the classic Victorian cages but moats and trenches. One of its first major attractions was the Chimp Island, where the use of water was used to separate the chimps from the visitors for the first time in a zoo.
Initially just 9 acres, the zoo now covers 111 acres and can be navigated using various methods of transport. A monorail system that crisscrosses the grounds gives a great overview of all the animals. The canal network is also turned into a tour route during peak season with the water bus services. For those who want a closer look without the hassle of walking, hire a mobility scooter at the entrance.
But the stars of the place are the animals. Counting over 420 species, the zoo houses more than 9000 animals living in enclosures designed to resemble their natural habitats as closely as possible. An entire heard of Asian elephants live with monitor lizards, jungle fowl and other creatures of Asian origins. The ‘Spirit of Jaguar’ exhibit holds spotted jaguars and an elusive black panther along with tree boas and poison arrow frogs. Fruit bats, orang-utans and okapis are also animals who call this place home. Its successful chimpanzee and rhinoceros breeding programmes are well known as well.
Visiting the zoo’s extensive grounds can be a great day trip from any of the Millennium & Copthorne Hotels UK. With the seasonal and weekend offers given by the you can take the weekend off into the countryside. Several of these are situated near popular airports and stations, making for convenient transport options as well.