Its centrepiece would be a large, open African savannah habitat, home to multiple rare species including the Rothschild’s giraffe and Grevy’s zebra, as well as ostrich and antelope, all living alongside one another.
The zoo – which is a wildlife conservation and education charity – hopes to connect more people than ever before with nature by offering close-up experiences with species such as cranes, vultures, aardvarks and warthogs, as part of efforts to inspire a nation of conservationists.
Based around a lake would be a settlement of simple fisherman’s lodges, designed to appear as though individually constructed by their owners.
The informal arrangement produces a cluster of authentic timber structures, echoing an African village setting. Each have their own decks which over sail the water, supported on timber posts set into the lake.
In the centre of the lake is a Boma.
The name is taken from a traditional African livestock enclosure, but in this instance provides a thatched roof enclosure with open sides, offering covered external space for dining and entertainment in a lakeside setting. Beyond the lake and surrounding the settlement, safari-style tents provide further accommodation.
The new habitat is the latest stage in the zoo’s strategic development plan: a vision for the future of the zoo, broken into themed geographic regions with ever more natural habitats for threatened species.
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Grasslands is designed to help the zoo continue to push the boundaries of world-class animal husbandry and welfare, while also further establishing Chester Zoo’s position as one of the UK’s leading tourist attractions.