Whilst there are countless attractions, gardens, restaurants and Hotels in Chester, it’s impossible to mention the famous, ancient tourist City without thinking of Chester Zoo. The zoo is not only the top tourist attraction in the north-west, but it is one of the biggest and most respected zoos in the world. The site houses over 12,000 animals with 400 different species, some of which are some of the world’s most endangered and won’t be found anywhere else in the UK. It’s by far the largest zoo in the country too, with over 110 acres covering the site. The colourful history of the zoo was explored in detail last year in the six-part BBC drama “Our Zoo,” which followed founder George Mottershead and his family as they struggled against the locals to make their dream of a zoo without cages and bars a reality in the 1930’s. Since the drama aired, public interest in the zoo has increased even further, but if you needed any more incentive, here we’ll be discussing exactly why Chester Zoo is one of the best family attractions in the UK, here is everything you need to know to plan your visit.
Considering the popularity of the attraction, tickets are surprisingly affordable. You’ll get the best price online via the official Chester Zoo website, but if you’re booking online, tickets must be ordered before 9:30am on the day of your visit. If you want to stay local so you can get up early and make the most of your day, Accommodation in Chester and the surrounding area is very affordable too, so be sure to do your research online.
The Zoofari Monorail – This particular monorail is so famous that even The Queen herself had to get in on the action when she visited the zoo back in 2012. The monorail gives visitors a unique perspective on the zoo and features a recorded commentary with information about the animals you’ll be seeing and the zoo’s worldwide conservation work.
The Lazy River Boat Trip – Anyone who has ever been the Disneyland and experienced the famous Jungle Cruise will be at home here. The crucial difference, however, is that the animals at Chester Zoo are real! The lazy river takes visitors through the zoo’s newly built Islands, which recreate the tropical environments of South East Asia. There are 14 boats, all of which are themed around a different island.
Wet Weather Walk – Unlike other popular attractions, just because the heavens open that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. The wet weather walk has been created to let visitors see the best of the zoo whilst avoiding potential rain. Of course, you won’t be completely free of the weather, but as long as you bring an umbrella you should remain bone dry!
Exhibits – The animals are the feature attraction of any zoo and at Chester Zoo, the animals are not kept behind bars or in cages, but are allowed to roam freely around large, comfortable enclosures and heavily themed exhibits.
The Islands – The newest attraction at the zoo, the islands is an exotic wildlife expedition that takes visitors through the South East Asian islands of Bali, Panay, Papua, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi where they’ll see crocodiles, tigers, prehistoric birds and even carnivorous plant-life! It’s one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by a UK zoo and it is proving incredibly popular, so if you want to see it, get there early!
Fruit Bat Forest – Bats are misunderstood creatures, but for those amongst us who harbour a soft spot for the furry sky rats, the fruit bat forest is a dark enclosure that allows Chester Zoo visitors to interact with almost 400 bats, some of which are so tiny they are about the size of a thumb!
Spirit of the Jaguar – Thought to be the biggest and best jaguar enclosure in the world, this South American-themed exhibit is also home to the zoo’s popular two-toed sloths, bush dogs and Amazonian turtles. The jaguars are beautiful creatures and the daily feedings are some of the most popular events that take place at the zoo.
Asian Plains and Forests – The plains is a mixed exhibit where rhinos live with deer and other animals native to Asia. The Greater One-horned Rhinoceros is easily the feature attraction here and he’ll be found most often relaxing in the zoo’s gigantic heated mud wallow and pool. The forest exhibit, meanwhile, is an immersive enclosure built for the zoo’s herd of Asian elephants. The exhibit recreates an Asian forest complete with a spacious tropical house where guests will travel through forest vegetation that represents the vegetation found in the actual rainforest. As well as elephants, you’ll also see exotic fish and the notoriously loud Derbyan Parakeets.
Butterfly Journey – One of the more gentle exhibits at the zoo, this is the largest butterfly enclosure in any zoo in the UK, featuring over 30 species of butterflies and moths from all over the world, the largest of which (the Atlas Moth) has a gigantic wingspan of up to 30cm! The exotic butterfly house is a tropical environment that also contains hundreds of plants, which have been used specifically to provide a home that feels natural to the butterflies.
Realm of the Red Ape – One of the most popular attractions (who doesn’t love a monkey?), this Indonesian forest houses the endangered Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, as well as a herd of Lar Gibbons. The enclosure is capped off by a roped walkway, which is home to several birds native to Indonesia.
Painted Dogs – Step into Africa and meet a pack of six wild painted dogs, as well as an aardvark and a Rock Hyrax, which is a essentially a tiny elephant! The dogs are an endangered species, with only around 3000 of them thought to be left in the wild. Looking for more zoos to visit? Book a ticket or look for travel attractions on sites like Tripster!