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Chester Zoo

The most popular wildlife attraction in the country, Chester Zoo exhibits more than 12,000 animals in an 111-acre park and attracts well over a million visitors each year.

A brief history

The zoo opened in 1931 and was pioneered by George Mottershead, who was raised by a family who owned their own market garden business near Crewe. After the Second World War, the zoo initiated a special polar bear and chimpanzee exhibition, and has been a major tourist attraction ever since, embarking on an ambitious £225 million conservation plan in 2009.


One of the main attractions at the zoo is the Spirit of the Jaguar exhibit, which includes a savannah-themed and rainforest-themed park with a panther, jaguars, rainforest fish and other species. The Elephants of the Asian Forest, meanwhile, showcases Asian elephants, parakeets, lizards, magpies, and a number of other Asian species.

Opened in 1998, the Islands in Danger exhibit showcases Komodo dragons and a number of rainforest birds originating from the Philippines and Indonesia, including Victoria crowned pigeons and Palawan peacock-pheasants. Chester Zoo is also home to the special Tropical Realm house, which is the largest of its kind in Britain and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014.

The award-winning gardens are a haven for plant lovers, featuring a fantastic Rock Garden, cacti greenhouse, South American-themed garden, and other beautifully landscaped gardens that are carefully maintained by the zoo's dedicated horticulture and botany team.

Where to eat at the zoo

For food, why not purchase your very own home-made picnic, which will include fresh locally produced, home-made ingredients, or dine at the Bembe Kitchen and BBQ for some delicious African-themed cuisine. Chester Zoo is also home to the popular June's Pavilion family restaurant, which serves various tasty dishes from burgers and pizzas to traditional British food. You can also visit the Oaks Coffee Cabin, which offers refreshing snacks and drinks, or dine at the Acorn Pub and BBQ for more hearty meals.

Places to stay nearby

For stylish hotels near Chester Zoo at impeccable value for money, choose Trafford Hall, just a 2.2-mile journey away, or consider the upmarket 4-star Kilomerey Lodge, only 1.8 miles away. One of the most luxurious hotels near Chester Zoo is the 4-star Macdonald New Blossoms Hotel in Chester city centre, which is noted for its sophisticated period-style interior and is only 2.6 miles away.