Chester Zoo reveals big plans for 2019: A Madagascan adventure, Asiatic lions, extinct predators and a whole lot of Lego!

  • Major 2019 programme revealed by UK’s most visited zoo
  • Family exhibition of ‘Big Cats’ made from thousands of Lego bricks opening in February
  • Visitors then invited to explore a new, multi-million pound Madagascan forest – inhabited by rare lemurs and the mysterious fossa – from spring
  • Huge animatronic ‘Predators’ exhibition to span 200 million years of history – revealing reality of extinction, this summer
  • New habitat for the zoo’s rare Asiatic lions will open in autumn
  • Every visitor to Chester Zoo helps to support its mission as a wildlife conservation charity fighting to prevent extinction worldwide

A new Lego: Big Cats exhibition will open at Chester Zoo in February

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have announced major plans for new habitats and visitor experiences in 2019.

The large-scale programme includes the arrival of previously unseen species at the zoo – from rare lemurs to mysterious fossas. The animals will inhabit the zoo’s major new Madagascar habitat when it opens to the public this Easter.

Madagascar is home to stunning wildlife found nowhere else on Earth. Five percent of the worlds’ animal and plant species are only found on the island. The zoo’s Madagascar zone will bring wildlife conservation to life through detailed recreations of stunning forest habitats. Visitors will be able to recreate a conservationist’s expedition by walking among the lemurs.

Later in the year, from autumn 2019, visitors will be invited to discover an expansive new habitat for the zoo’s endangered Asiatic lions. The specially designed area is inspired by the Gir National Park region of India, which is home to the last surviving wild population of Asiatic lions, with fewer than 500 left on the planet. The state-of-the-art new lion habitat will feature raised earth hilltop viewing points for the lions to survey their savannah, as well as heated rocks, a water hole and sandy beach area.

The multi-million pound investment in new animal habitats is part of a major long-term plan to transform the zoo into spectacular zones, inspired by the global regions where the zoo’s conservationists work.

2019 will also see a range of hands-on exhibitions for families to explore and learn from.

Opening in May, a major Predators experience will see the arrival of huge animatronic hunters at the zoo. Spanning 200 million years of history, these long-extinct mega-beasts include everything from dinosaurs to a giant bear and unimaginable sea creatures.

Soonest of all, from February, a specially created Lego: Big Cats exhibition and trail through the zoo will reveal a pride of life-sized cat species, all made from Lego, as well as some never-before-seen re-creations of other zoo animals. Made from thousands of Lego bricks, the models include animals specially constructed by master builders.

Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer at Chester Zoo, said: “2019 is set to be a special year for us.

“The new animal habitats will help us to continue our world leading conservation work for the species in our care, from rare lemurs in Madagascar to endangered Asiatic lions.

“As an education charity, it is vital that we also continue to engage visitors in this mission. We hope to bring visitors closer to the animals than ever before by giving them the chance to walk with lemurs, taking an expedition right into the heart of the forest, just as you can do in the wilds of Madagascar. People will not forget this experience. By inspiring a life-long connection to wildlife, we hope to create the conservationists of the future.

“There are plenty more experiences to inspire learning and play in 2019. With more than 20,000 animals, you might think there’s little you can’t already see at Chester Zoo, but in 2019 we’ll also be bringing you life-sized animatronic re-creations of extinct predators, ranging across 200 million years of history. 

“And before all this, the zoo will become over-run with Lego animals.

“We were humbled to greet more visitors in 2018 than at any time in Chester Zoo’s long history. Every person through our gates helps to prevent extinction by supporting our vital work as a conservation charity. We look forward to welcoming each and every visitor back again in 2019.”

THE LISTINGS:

Lego: Big Cats

Wednesday 13 February – Tuesday 30 April 2019

Chester Zoo Dragons in Danger Garden

The world’s biggest felines – from lions to tigers, cheetahs and leopards -spectacularly constructed from thousands of LEGO® bricks! A major exhibition of 12 life-sized big cats will be joined by a host of other specially created LEGO animals on public display for the first time. Families are invited to explore a trail through the zoo, marvel at the big cats display, have a go at creating their own animal models, and join the Zoo Rangers to discover more about big cats!

 

Madagascar

From Easter 2019

Chester Zoo

Madagascar is home to stunning wildlife found nowhere else on Earth. Five percent of the worlds’ animal and plant species are only found on the island. Chester Zoo’s major new Madagascar zone will bring wildlife conservation to life through detailed recreations of stunning forest habitats for visitors to explore. Visitors will be able to take a true expedition through the forest. Walking among rare lemurs and spot the mysterious fossa, Madagascar’s largest carnivore.

 

Predators

May – September 2019

Chester Zoo Dragons in Danger Garden

A major Predators experience will invite visitors to travel back in time. Spanning more than 200 million years of history, huge life-sized animatronic hunters will be on display at Chester Zoo throughout summer 2019. These enormous, long extinct mega-beasts include everything from dinosaurs to a giant bear and unimaginable sea creatures! With so many animals today threatened with extinction, this thrilling exhibition could not come at a more relevant time.

 

Asiatic Lions

From Autumn 2019

Chester Zoo

From autumn 2019, visitors will discover an expansive new habitat for the zoo’s endangered Asiatic lions. Inspired by the dry forest and savannah habitats of Gir National Park in India, the only place in the world where Asiatic lions still range, the new area has been specially created by the zoo’s conservationists, who are caring for the species as part of a European endangered species breeding programme.