Zoo is home to more than 20,000 animals and over 500 different species and last year welcomed almost 1.9m visitors through the gates – an all-time record for any UK zoo. Tony McDonough reports.
Chester Zoo welcomed almost 1.9m visitors in 2016 – the highest figure in its 85-year history and an all-time record for any UK zoo.
The zoo recorded 1,896,401 visits last year – 12% up on 2015.
And zoo bosses say the extra income generated will support vital conservation work protecting threatened species from extinction.
From initiatives to help frogs in Madagascar and song birds in Indonesia to conservation projects for elephants in India, funds raised from the record-breaking year are a huge boost to Chester Zoo’s Act For Wildlife conservation programmes.
Dr Mark Pilgrim, chief executive at Chester Zoo, said: “A huge thank you goes out to everyone who walked through our gates in 2016.
“We rely on our visitors to help deliver 80 vital conservation projects to protect threatened species – and the local communities that live alongside them – all around the world.
“That work includes a commitment to scientific conservation research; sending our keepers abroad to offer hands on welfare and technical advice in the wild and equipping rangers and field workers with the tools they need to protect endangered animals.
“We couldn’t do all this without the brilliant, growing support of our visitors.”
Global top 10
The figures come after the zoo – which is home to more than 20,000 animals and over 500 different species – was named the best zoo in the UK and within the top 10 globally by travel website TripAdvisor.
Meanwhile, a report last year by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) placed Chester Zoo as the UK’s most visited paid-for visitor attraction outside London.
And an Economic Impact report published in December outlined that the attraction boosts the North West of England’s economy by almost £50m a year.
The zoo’s research during the summer of 2016 showed an increase in visitors from the local area, the wider UK and international tourists.
It also highlighted “unprecedented” satisfaction ratings, with 99% of visitors surveyed suggesting they would recommend Chester Zoo to friends and family.
Starting in January 2017, Chester Zoo will the launch a new phase of improvements to further its status as one of the world’s best zoos, in line with the “always building” ethos of founder George Mottershead.
Dr Mark Pilgrim, added: “Opening this summer, we will be taking a playful turn with a brand new Madagascan Play habitat for our family visitors, creating lots of fun and adventure for people to enjoy across the zoo.”