Chester Zoo is a 125-acre zoo located in Cheshire, England. It was opened by George Mottershead in 1931. It’s also classified as one of the United Kingdom’s largest zoos because it owns a total of 400 acres altogether. Around 21,000 animals reside at this facility, and there are almost 2 million individuals who visit the zoo every year. Chester Zoo’s mission is summed up by the phrase “Preventing extinction.” They are devoted to both the welfare and protection of wildlife. Additionally, they are dedicated to protecting biodiversity and fighting to save species from extinction. You can purchase tickets to the Chester Zoo either on their website or at the gate of the main entrance.
Chester Zoo is a registered charity that participates in conservation work around the world, namely Act for Wildlife. The zoo has their own green team who meet regularly to improve the environmental practices at the zoo. They were awarded Gold for Green Tourism, which means they present the highest standards of sustainability, efficiency, and working practices that come with making the world a greener environment. They have the latest technology, including solar power, their use of local suppliers and of ethical products. Additionally, they use green roofs. A green roof is a roof to a building that is covered in plants that are placed over a waterproof membrane.
Chester Zoo works with 30 countries across the world to expand the assistance and protection they give to wild animals that are classified as an endangered species. Their target animals currently are Asian elephants, black rhinos, the Scottish wildcat, and Andean bears. They use their resources at their facility to research things that could have a major positive impact on animals across the world. For example, they research the best way to keep reptiles warm as well as the breeding factors related to black rhinos. This research can help them understand why these animals are having so much trouble surviving in the wild. Additionally, their research and findings can suggest ideas for how to help make the environment an easier place for these individual animals.
Getting Around the Zoo
You can find a complete printable version of the map to navigate around Chester Zoo here.
Being that the zoo is 125 acres, many people have trouble getting around the whole zoo on foot. And if they manage to do so, they would have to take breaks in between the walking required.
You can navigate around the zoo in one of their buggies that they have for hire. These buggies are available at the main entrance to the zoo and can be booked in advance. Another form of transportation that they offer is riding on the Zoofari Monorail. The monorail is wheelchair accessible and allows you to view animals, habitats, and gardens from the cars on the monorail.
Chester Zoo also offers transportation on the Lazy River Boat Trip. It is located in the Islands habitat in the zoo. The river boats are a recreation of the tropical environment of South East Asia. Overall, there are 14 boats that are each individually themed to represent a different feature of South East Asia. The zoo also offers wheelchair and scooter rentals free of charge. But in order to retrieve one at the main entrance, you have to pay a refundable deposit of 25 euros. Furthermore, the zoo also offers an additional route to walk for when the weather doesn’t cooperate. They call it the “Wet Weather Walk,” and it’s classified as an alternate route to avoid the problems that bad weather causes. Most of the animals have an additional large indoor exhibit that allows for the individuals on the Wet Weather Walk to still be able to view all of the animal exhibits without missing out.
Given that the zoo is so large, most visitors can expect to make a trip to the Chester Zoo an all-day thing. Because of this, there are plenty of places for visitors to purchase food, and there are various options to choose from. One of the options includes the Mando Street Kitchen. It is inspired by a South East Asian food menu, which is known for their freshly-cooked street food. All Mando Street Kitchen’s foods are made to order and grilled over a flame.
June’s Food Court is another great option to choose food from because of their diverse selection of both individual food items as well as their meals offered. They offer food like burgers, fish and chips, and an ice cream parlour. There is plenty of seating inside of the building, which creates a cafeteria-like atmosphere. In addition to this, the Fun Ark playground is outside of the food court building, which also includes some outdoor seating next to the playground.
Bembe Coffee Shop is also a popular choice for many zoo visitors as well as non-visitors. A ticket to the Chester Zoo is not required to enter this coffee shop and outside visitors are both welcome and encouraged to attend. They serve ethical coffee, homemade hot food, and various other sweet treats, including cakes, donuts, ice cream, and drinks.
The last selection of major food services that is offered at Chester Zoo is the Madagascar Market Place and Ice Cream Parlor. This restaurant offers a wide selection of sandwiches, snacks, sweet treats, cakes, drinks, ice cream, and milkshakes. In addition to all of these restaurants, Chester Zoo also offers kiosks that are present throughout the zoo for you to purchase a quick snack or drink while navigating throughout.
Habitats and Main Attractions
Chester Zoo offers a great amount of habitats for the animals and main attractions that are also included throughout the zoo.
The islands habitat at the zoo includes 6 South East Asian islands that include the Panay, the Papua, the Bali, the Sumatra, the Sumba, and the Sulawesi islands. Throughout all of these islands are carnivorous plants and pre-historic looking birds. Panay is one of 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines. It includes the wart pig, which is classified as an endangered animal. Additionally, some of the animals on the Panay island are found nowhere else in the world. Papua is an island that is presented as a rainforest and offers strong tribal customs.
Bali is an island that is classified as a spiritual and tranquil paradise. Sumatra is an island that is home to some of the world’s most critically endangered animals. Sumba is a smaller island that offers spiritual villages as well as unique architecture. And Sulawesi is an island that is home to unique animals, such as the babirusa.
The Monsoon Forest is a subtropical building that is classified as the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the United Kingdom. It presents the rhinoceros hornbill, which is one of the world’s largest birds. It also offers the sunda gharial, which is one of the largest types of crocodiles in the world. Additionally, the Monsoon Forest also presents the Tripa Forest Research Station.
Dragons in Danger
This exhibit is home of the Komodo dragon, namely the largest lizard in the world. It also presents the Luzon breeding-heart dove, the Montserrat oriole, the tarictic hornbill, and the mountain chicken frog, which is a species that only has 100 individuals in the world.
This exhibit it presented as a tropical environment, and offers hot temperatures as soon as you enter. You can journey through hundreds of exotic plants, waterfall sounds in the distance, and you will feel as though you’re walking through the forests of Latin America or South Asia.
Spirit of the Jaguar
This exhibit offers the feeling of a trip to Latin America, which is classified as one of the most exotic places in the world. You can be face-to-face with jaguars, see the two-toes sloth, and you can also view the underwater exhibit of the Amazon.
Elephants of the Asian Forest
The Asian Forest exhibit presents the elephants of the Hi Way family, which spans across four generations. They are a unique and beautiful herd of Asian elephants.
This exhibit offers a great selection of underwater animals, including sea horses, brittle stars, blind fish, pipefish, anemone, and clown fish. You can also view the coral that the zoo grows manually.
Tsavo Black Rhino Reserve
This safari presents Africa and is home to one of the largest animals at the zoo, the Rhino. The Black Rhino is also one of the world’s most endangered species. This large grassland transfers you to the National Parks of Kenya, Africa. There is also the Tsavo Bird Safari, which offers exotic birds from Africa that fly above, below, and next to you.
Realm of the Red Ape
This exhibit is home to the Bornean orangutan. It represents the treetops of Indonesia perfectly, and offers a variety of birds, lizards, and the world’s largest snake, the reticulated python. There is also the lar gibbons presented in this exhibit.
This habitat offers a variety of reptiles, amphibians, free-flight birds, and hundreds of other animals found throughout tropical regions of the world.
This habitat represents the “heartland” of India with its swampy flood plains. It is home to the greater one-horned rhino, the onager, and the Bactrian camel.
Parrot Breeding Center
Chester Zoo allows its visitors to get closer to the zoo conservation breeding programs present on its ground. This is a building that is specifically designed for parrot conservation and makes the conservation of the parrots its highest priority. It is home to the Ecuador Amazon parrot and the Philippine cockatoo, which are two of the most endangered species of birds that are fighting for their survival in the wild. The majority of this exhibit is behind the scenes in order to make sure that the parrots have the privacy that they need in order to behave naturally and reproduce.
Chester Zoo offers its botanical gardens for its visitors. They have their own botany team that works all year round to ensure that all of the gardens are well-taken care of, especially in poor weather conditions. There are currently 7 gardens that are all explorable to interested visitors.
1. The Plant Project
This garden is home to many exotic plants and is located in-between the Conservation Garden and the Parrot Breeding Center. It is a tropical habitat full of endangered plants and flowers, and has a specialized greenhouse as well as a winding path that navigates you through the whole garden.
2. Sunken Garden
This garden is hidden away in the corner of the zoo and offers various water features. It transforms with each season and contains the sculpture Noah and the Four Winds, which is located in the middle of a pond that’s in the garden.
3. Bee Garden
The Bee Garden is dedicated to saving the bumblebees by having the whole garden reserved only for the bees with multiple nests, hibernation spots, and there are hundreds of flowers for the bees to receive their nutrients.
4. Rock Garden
This “zen” rock garden features a waterfall, a pond, several streams, and colorful plants. There is a great diversity of plants that originated from China and Himalayan mountain ranges. The plants in this garden have been collected from original species and grown from seed by the zoo’s horticultural team. And near this garden is also the red panda that lives in the bamboo forests of the Himalayas.
5. Madagascan Grasses
This grass garden is divided into 4 sections, and each section contains different grasses from different parts of the world. They present food crops, sand dune grasses, bamboos, and ornamental grasses. This garden also contains a small beach, a water feature, and a thatched wooden roundhouse.
6. Enrichment Garden
This garden is located next to the owls and The Oakfield. It grows plants specifically for the animals at the zoo. It grows the herbs, flowers, leaves, and fruit that is given to a variety of wildlife at the zoo, like the primates, parrots, and tortoises. The aim of this garden is to encourage the natural feeding and behaviors of the animals. Chester Zoo participates in studying the behavior of their animals because it helps them understand why they act the way they act, which can also help them also understand how these animals have a troubling time attempting to survive in the wild.
7. Plant Collections
Not only does Chester Zoo participate in various measures to save endangered animals from extinction, but they also engage in practices that prevents certain plant species from extinction as well. Chester Zoo is home to 5 National Plant Collections, including the preservation of cacti, orchids, and nepenthes. They have over 1,500 cacti at the zoo, over 400 species of orchids, and over 130 species of carnivorous plants at he zoo, including the nepenthes.
8. Andes Gardens
This garden contain plants from South America and is purposely built on a slope because the plants that reside here are adapted to the hilly landscapes of mountain ranges. The Andes Garden also contains 2 streams, a wooden bridge, and a pool.
The Botanist’s Lab
This lab is a unique garden which has been created out of a variety of recycled materials, including discarded concrete pieces. It offers the ability for visitors to assist the expert-gardeners in taking care of different plants at the zoo. This feature has to be called and scheduled ahead of time.
Chester Zoo offers endless activities that have allowed the conception of a zoo to expand from just simply viewing animals to viewing, interacting, and saving animals altogether as individuals, as a community, and as a planet. Their contributions to many charities and to saving the lives of many endangered species has been represented throughout the exceptional care that they give to all of their animals present at their facility.
They offer huge individual habitats for the animals here, proving that they’re not only interested in providing the best experience for the human visitors, but that they also offer the best experience for the animals that reside in their habitats. Chester Zoo’s attention to the detail of every species of animals’ behaviour contributes to the efforts made to the prevention of extinction, which is why their mission to “preventing extinction” coincides well with their efforts as both a zoo and as caretakers.
Getting around Chester
Parking in Chester can be difficult during peak seasonal periods, and the park and ride facilities are very handy during these periods (free busses every 10 minutes). If you are staying within Chester there are local busses, hop on hop off tourist busses, Chester taxis which can be booked or head off to one of many taxi ranks dotted around the city.