Huge Dome Huge Home

Zoo's dome from home
Nicola Dowling
27/ 1/2009
From Manchester Evening News

AN African rainforest teeming with exotic animals and birds is heading to Chester Zoo.

The £225m project will create a massive domed tropical eco-system - called Heart of Africa - over 138 acres.

Residents will include gorillas, chimpanzees and the rare giraffe-like okapi. Birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes and invertebrates will move freely among lush vegetation.

Zoo bosses say the development, due for completion in 2018, would allow visitors to explore the jungle canopy on a massive interactive water ride.


As well as benefiting the animals, the dome aims to make the already-popular zoo an all-year-round attraction.

Zoo boss Prof Gordon McGregor Reid said: "As well as the overall impact on conservation worldwide, here in the north west there will be a major increase in job creation and security and a positive impact on the regional economy.

"Our visitors will be immersed in the world of wildlife where we will engage, inform educate and amaze them in a truly thrilling and unique environment.

"New and exciting animal species will be introduced. This project is unlike anything in Britain and will offer a spectacular visitor experience and the highest standards of animal welfare."

The first phase includes the construction of a 90 bed hotel and a conservation college.


A planning application is to be submitted in September this year and zoo bosses are talking to sources - including the North West Regional Development Agency - about possible funding.

NWDA's tourism boss James Berresford said the plan could transform the zoo into a `visitor experience of international importance'.

He said: "The Zoo has the potential to become a flagship visitor attraction for the north west, improving perceptions of the region and boosting inbound tourism."

Chester celebrates its 75th anniversary in May welcoming around 1.3m visitors a year - making it the most popular zoo in the country.

Bosses expect this to increase to 2m million on completion of the Heart of Africaproject.

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