Chester Zoo

Location: Moston Rd, Upton, Chester

10am - 5pm

Nearest Hertz branches

Chester Zoo is the UK’s most visited wildlife attraction; every year it welcomes around 1.5 million visitors to see its huge collection of over 20,000 different animals. 

Now spanning 125 acres, the zoo was first opened in 1931 by a market gardener called George Mottershead. His interest in animals had first been sparked by the exotic lizards and insects that often arrived with the plants he imported from around the world. He established the zoo at Oakfield Manor in a village called Upton-by-Chester, just a little way out of the city itself. 

The zoo is a major breeding centre for endangered species, and is actively involved in conservation projects around the world. So many of the animals who call Chester home are almost extinct in the wild, and the zoo’s providing them with a safe home is a major part of their commitment to be “a major force in conserving the living world”. 

The best way to get a quick overview is to take a trip on the monorail that travels all around Chester Zoo, on a one-mile course that passes over many of the main animal enclosures. Alternatively, take a lazy river boat trip round the Islands Zone – recreations of six South East Asian islands where you’ll find tigers, crocodiles, exotic birds and even carnivorous plants. 

The zoo is also well known for its big cats – don’t miss out on seeing the Spirit of the Jaguar. This is divided into the four main habitats that the jaguar inhabits, namely the savannah, rainforest, rivers and pools. The magnificent cats also share the space with a colony of wild dogs, leaf cutter ants and even a number of sloths. 

Primates are another of the zoo’s biggest attractions, and here you’ll be able to see chimpanzees in their special breeding centre – Europe’s largest colony - which was opened in 1989 by the Princess of Wales. There’s also Realm of the Red Ape which has been built to showcase the Bornean orangutan, as well as rare lar gibbons. 

At more than 26,000 cubic metres, Tropical Realm is Britain’s largest tropical house with aviaries and vivaria arranged all round its outsides. Here you’ll also find the zoo’s collection of reptiles including the tuatara, a lizard from New Zealand that is the last surviving species from a prehistoric family of reptiles called sphenodonts. 

As well as all of the permanent displays there are also events and temporary exhibitions programmed throughout the year. For example, the Summer 2016 season promises a huge animatronic dinosaur display featuring no less than 23 life-sized creatures in a prehistoric forest setting. 

So, with a great choice of restaurants and cafes, plenty of free on-site parking and so much to do, there are lots of reasons to spend the whole day at Chester Zoo – and you still won’t have time to get round to everything this amazing place offers.

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