Zoo is home to more than 27,000 animals from 500 different species and is now on course to pass the 2m visitors in a year milestone for the first time in its 88-year history. Tony McDonough reports
Chester Zoo has already welcomed more than one million visitors already in 2019 – the earliest point ever it has passed the milestone in its 88-year history.
The zoo, which is home to more than 27,000 animals from 500 different species, reached the 1m figure on June 30 – beating its previous record, set last year, by 12 days – and is now on course to break through the 2m visitors in a year barrier for the first time.
Chester Zoo is already the UK’s most visited zoo and the country’s most visited tourist attraction outside London.
Not only is the figure good news from a business perspective but conservationists say the public was now becoming more aware of the zoo’s extensive work on wildlife and environmental issues both here and overseas.
Jamie Christon, Chester Zoo’s chief operating officer, said: “To have reached this milestone earlier than ever before is just incredible. As our visitors become more aware of the threats to survival faced by thousands of species every day, it is great to see so many of them supporting our charitable mission and helping us to prevent extinction.
“This year, we have led a project to reintroduce five critically endangered rhinos back to Africa, released 4,000 snails into the wild in Bermuda and have delivered more than 80 conservation projects worldwide.
“We could not do all this without the remarkable public support. Closer to home, we removed more than 2m pieces of single-use plastic from our products, converting to more sustainable options. We also made Chester the ‘world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City’ to help tackle the palm oil crisis in South East Asia.”
The zoo has already opened a number of new attractions this year, including a new Madagascan dry forest zone, which is home to some of the world’s most spectacular animals including the African island’s super predator, the fossa.
It also includes the zoo’s first ever walkthrough habitat where visitors are surrounded by some of the rarest lemur species on the planet.
Mr Christon also welcomed a new tourism sector deal was launched by Prime Minister Theresa May. The deal includes a number of changes to boost the number of tourists coming to the UK, including extra accommodation and improved public transport links for major attractions.
He added: “More visitors to the zoo means more funding towards our ground-breaking conservation projects here in the UK and across 30 countries worldwide – positive news in our fight to prevent extinction.”