The Chester Zoo is a Zoological Garden located in the North of England. It was opened 73 years ago in 1934 by George Mottershead and is the UK's largest zoo at 110 acres. The current director of the zoo is Gordon McGregor.
Chester was the first zoo in the UK to successfully breed Asian Elephants in captivity. The most famous of these was "Jubilee" (1977-2003), so named as he was born in 1977, the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee. At the moment the zoo has ten Asian Elephant including Tunga and Sundara, two baby elephants which were born in 2004 and another calf which was born in 2006 named Raman.
One of the most famous sights in the zoo is the Chimpanzees. Some have lived there for over 30 years, and it is a well-established colony of 28 and still growing.
The zoo has a monorail transportation system, two restaurants, a children's playing park a new Ark (outdoor children playing area), several picnic lawns and educational notices for visitors.
A brand new, state of the art breeding facility for the zoo's 10 Asian elephants opened in early 2006. Designed to replicate an Assam Rainforest, this £2 million exhibit also holds Great Indian Hornbills (who have their own rainforest aviary), a large aviary for Azure winged magpies and green peafowl, Prevost squirrels, Red bellied (belly banded) Squirrels, Elongated Tortoises, a large aquarium for Pla Eesok and Asian Arrowana fish and Northern Tree Shrews(which have been successful in breeding many times). This is a great example of Chester Zoo's commitment to education - how many guests would have heard of a Northern Tree Shrew before their visit? - but by linking them to a 'wow' species like the Asian elephant, Chester has enlightened the public to the plight of the other residents of the Assam Rainforest, that in any other zoo would have gone unnoticed.
The most spectacular exhibit to date at Chester, and probably all of Britain, Spirit of the Jaguar was opened in 2001, and is perhaps the biggest and best jaguar exhibit in the world. Their exhibit is split in four, the two inside are a massive and very well-planted rainforest, and a dry and arid savannah, and the two outside contain large rivers and deep pools so that the cats can exercise their swimming skills. As well as Jaguars, the exhibit also contains a large colony of leaf-cutter ants, poison arrow frogs and numerous rainforest fish (which can be viewed by an underwater, personally-controlled camera). There are 5 Jaguars (4 spotted jaguars and one black jaguar). Two Jaguars named Sophia and Salvador had cubs in 2005 but unfortunately they died soon after birth. The enclosure is sponsored by Jaguar cars.
The first phase of a brand new £3 million exhibit – Realm of the Red Ape – began in December, kick-starting the building of the largest orangutan exhibit in Europe. The new home, for Chester Zoo’s Borneon and Sumatran Orangutans, will offer more space and will mean that the Zoo can house an increased number of both of these threatened species as part of the European Breeding Programme. It will re-create a tropical environment with a wide variety of Indonesian forest invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals such as Gibbons, mangrove snakes and praying mantis as well as indigenous plants, trees and shrubs. The first phase will see the creation of a two-storey building linked onto the existing orangutan house, comprising three large indoor enclosures. Linked to these will be two further large outdoor enclosures, covered with a mesh roof, which will be supported with tree-like structures to act as climbing frames for the orangutans. In addition there will be two very large outdoor enclosures which will be viewed from a first floor public gallery as well as from other outside vantage points, containing a fast-flowing waterfall and lots of plants, with climbing structures for the Orangutans
This pavilion was opened in 1989 by HRH the Princess of Wales. It houses the largest colony of chimps in europe and consists of a conical inside area and a large lush outside area. The outside 'island' is planted with many bushes and has large pole for the chimps to climb on. The inside area has a large climbing frame and this also allows chimps to stay close together like they would do in the wild. It is home to 28 chimpanzees.
The zoo's Black Rhinoceros exhibit, based on the Tsavo national park in Kenya - visitors are taught various words of Swahili, can listen to the daily rhino talk and enjoy the busy antics of the local meerkat colony in their huge termite-mound home. The rhinos are named Pangani, Emma, Magadi, Quinto, Manyara, Kitani, Rosie and Sammy.The zoo has bred them successfully in the past. There are only 400 black rhinos left in Kenya today. This exhibit cost the zoo £2 million to build and was opened in 2003. Lechwe, Mongooses and Warthogs were added in 2006 to surrounding paddocks. Also the Tsavo Cafe was opened in spring 2006 replacing the Oasis Cafe.
Twilight Zone Bat Cave: The largest free-flying bat cave in Europe, is not for the squeamish. Though bats will not collide with visitors (who travel inside the enclosure to view the bats) due to their excellent echolocation, the 'cave' is dark, and full of shifty movement and darting eyes. The Cave holds 3 species of bat: the critically endangered Rodrigues Fruit Bat, Livingstone's Bat (found only on Anjouan and Moheli Islands, it has a wingspan of up to 2 metres) and Seba's Fruit Bat, together with various species of freshwater fish (rays, catfish etc.), Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches, Turkish spiny mice, and blind cave fish (which have evolved without eyes as they live in total darkness).
This is home to 5 species of monkey. The mandrill, campbells guenon monkey, colombian black spider monkey, lion tailed macaque and Sulawesi crested macaque all take residence in this award-winning facility. Inside there are lots of branches and mentally stimulating things for the monkeys to use, and outside there are lots of bushes and ropes for them to use.
The zoo's Spectacled Bear exhibit. Fewer than 2,400 roam the Andes today and Chester's collection is vitally important for the preservation of the species. This purpose-built exhibit is designed to mimic the bear's natural habitat by providing trees, mountainous terrain and a canopy full of coatis. Nearby is a paddock home to Vicuna (distant relatives of the llama), capybara (the worlds biggest rodent) and Brazilian tapirs (which have recently bred). Another nearby paddock houses Guanaco (yet another relative of the llama) as well as Common Rhea. This enclosure was opened in 2004.
One of the many new enclosures for Chester Zoo opened in 2006 housing the endangered and beautiful relative of the Giraffe, the Okapi. There is a male and a female . Other animals at the enclosure are Giant pouched rats, African dormice, Lake Mbo Cichilds, Gaboon Vipers and Shrews. Secret World of the Okapi is located in the former Camel house.
Though primarily a huge herpetarium for the zoo's Komodo Dragons (the world's largest and most intelligent lizard) the Islands in Danger exhibit also houses various endangered and beautiful Indonesian rainforest birds (e.g. Red Bird of Paradise, Socorro Doves, Palawan Peacock Pheasant, Victoria Crowned Pigeon) and also an aviary, based around a wrecked fishing-boat, housing the critically endangered St. Lucia Parrot. Komodo Dragons originate in the Lesser Sunda Islands, and at Chester they have recently been given an outdoor enclosure for the warmer months of the year. It was opened in 1998 and the extension was opened in 2003.
The country's largest tropical house at over 26,000 cubic metres. The building houses a particularly large collection of birds, including more than 30 species that are free flying through the building such as Nicobar pigeons, various species of starlings, ground birds such as RoulRoul Partrigdes amongst others. Aviary birds include Great Indian Hornbills, Rhinoceros Hornbills, Tarictic Hornbills, Writhe billed Hornbills, Wrinkled Hornbills, Red crested turacos, Palawan peacock pheasants, Congo Peafowls (one of the zoo's rarest birds), Bali Starlings, Blue crowned Pigeons, White rumped Shamas, Monserrat Orioles and Red Billed Currasow. The Tropical Realm is also the centre of the reptile collection at Chester. There are Dwarf Crocodiles and Snouted Crocodiles in the jungle pools. Close to the entrance and with access to an outside pen, are the Tuatara from New Zealand. This lizard-like animal is the last surviving species of sphenodont, a prehistoric group of reptiles. The 8 juveniles here are the only ones in Britain. There are also snakes such as huge anacondas and boa constrictors aswell as snouted cobras and ratsnakes plus Jamaican Boas and Green Mambas.Lizards include the prehestoric looking rhinoceros iguanas plus many species of monitors as well as gila monsters and geckos.Turtles and Tortoises are also found in the house with Galapagos tortoises, pancake tortoises, yellow footed tortoise, radicated tortoises and spiny turtles. Amphibians such as the deadly Poison Arrow Frogs and highly unusual Puerto Rican Crested Toads, and invertebrates such as the Partula Snail are also found in the Tropical Realm.
This is the zoo's largest aviary, and is one of the biggest in the country. It houses a wide variety of European birds, among the most impressive are the European Black and Griffon Vultures, and the rarer of the two European storks, the Black Stork. There are spoonbills, ibis and egrets as well as a selection of waterfowl. Smaller birds include Red Billed Chough, Rock Dove, Northern Lapwing and Red Legged Partridge.
This aviary was constructed to rehouse the zoo's breeding pair of Andean Condors, who have since parent-reared a chick for the first time. Since then, however, another bird of prey species have been added - the American Black Vulture from South America. The aviary is dominated by a large sandstone waterfall, and a fake llama skeleton is used at feeding time.
Collection of domestic animals. There are goats, rabbits, pigs, sheep, guinea pigs and poultry to be met and petted. Nearby, is the Marmot Mania. Housing Black Tailed Prairie Marmots, this exhibit allows children to crawl through tunnels, popping up every so often into plastic domes within the marmots' enclosure.
The pool for Californian Sealions at the zoo has recently been redeveloped and restyled Sealion Beach. There is now a much larger 'beach' area, more naturalistic planting and softer barriers. Certainly an improvement, even if the old and new portions of the exhibit seem to sit together a little uncomfortably.In the summer of 2006 a pup named Sophia was born to first time mum Rio.
The parrot house is a former enclosure at Chester Zoo that was knocked down in 2005 to make way for the Realm of the red ape.Some of the birds housed there included Blue eyed cockatoos, red venet cockatoos, palm cockatoos, slender billed black cockatoos, Red and blue lories, yellow backed chattering lories, mount apo lorikeets and blue and gold macaws. Most of the birds where moved to the Rare Parrot Breeding Centre at the north of the zoo.
Miniature Monkeys, opened in 2004, is a walk through enclosure home to 2 female Pied Tamarins, a large family of Geoffreys Marmosets and a pair of Black Lion Tamarins having only arrived in January 2007.When the Marmosets first arrived there were only a pair of them , since then they have breed about seven youngsters making it a huge sucsses in the breeding programm.Miniature Monkeys was opened in May 2004.
This enclosure consits of large aviaries housing rare and endangered south american parrots and macaws. Hyacinthe Macaws, Illigers Macaw, Blue Throated Macaws, Golden Conure, Golden capped Conure, Blue throated Conure, Green cheeked Amazon parrot and red tailed amazon parrot are all housed at mythical macaws.The first aviary was opened in 2001 with the others opened in 2004. The male Azara's Agouti that used to reside in miniature monkeys has now taken up home here with the Blue throated macaws and green cheeked Amazons.
The aquarium at Chester is a small and traditional building housing a large and varied collection of fish, aquatic invertebrates and amphibians. Chester has an important role in aquatic conservation, and so there are some very unusual species here. The Seahorses breed very well, and an important 'first breeding' took place here for the Freshwater Whip Tailed Stingray. Other notable fish include the Electric Eel, the African Lungfish, the exotic tropical reef fishes and a huge cloud of glittering Lake Malawi Cichlids from the Rift Valley. Amphibians include the Surinam Toad and the Japanese Fire Bellied Newt, as well as the ever-popular Axolotl.
Future exhibits include a massive new aquarium to replace their old (and frankly disappointing) one. They also plan to include Sumatran Tigers to their already substantial collection. They are the most endangered subspecies of tiger, numbering only about 300 in the wild. There is also some remodeling work taking place on the asiatic antelope enclosure so that is it suitable for indian rhinos, A new species for the zoo.
At Chester you are allowed to adopt an animal of your choice or become a zoo member by doing this you are given free zoo tickets and every three months you will receive the zoo magazine called Z which gives you an update of what's happening at the zoo.