England: Zoo to create Asian islands

By Mike Hornby

The exotic islands of South East Asia are to be recreated at the UK's biggest zoo.

Orangutans will be among the residents of the new Chester Zoo. Photo / Supplied
Orangutans will be among the residents of the new Chester Zoo. Photo / Supplied

Chester Zoo has won planning permission for a NZ$59 million redevelopment to create its own Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi.

The Islands project will be linked by a series of bridges and waterways and the development will be home to animals and plants from the region, new species such as banteng wild cattle, and the Sunda Gavial crocodile.

Other animal species will include Sumatran tigers, orangutans, Sulawesi macaques and exotic birds such as the lorikeet and rhinoceros hornbills.

The multimillion-pound venture will showcase the zoo's Act For Wildlife conservation activities as visitors navigate their way through mangroves, swamps, bamboo and tropical forests.

Mark Pilgrim, director-general of Chester Zoo, said the project was "the dawning of a new age for zoos''.

"Although the animals, both new and existing, will provide a huge draw for visitors, the experience of the journey with the sights, smells and colours of nature and culture of these islands will be brought to life in all their glory, creating a treasure trove of experiences right here in Cheshire and a zoo visit unlike any other.

"For many of our visitors, taking a trip to these islands is just a dream.

"But we will be making those dreams a reality, transporting our visitors thousands of miles away to experience the splendour of the animals, plants and cultural aspects of these far-flung places.

"It will be the first time a UK zoo has attempted anything on this scale and will confirm Chester Zoo's position as a world leader.''

Designed by architects from the Dan Pearlman group in Germany, the Islands project is expected to take shape from early next year and be opened to the public by Easter 2015.

- AAP

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