Grasslands 9
The project is part of the zoo's £225m Natural Visions masterplan, unveiled in 2010

Chester Zoo’s Grasslands extension on hold

Dan Whelan

Plans to expand the African savannah habitat, which had been due to open in 2022, have been delayed as the zoo works to recover from the financial impact of Covid-19, which left a “deep scar” on its business. 

Under the plans, approved in September 2019, the Grasslands section of Chester Zoo would be extended to include an African Wetlands Aviary containing flamingos, and a savannah habitat home to the Rothschild’s giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, ostrich and Roan antelope. 

Next to the savannah, the zoo wants to create an experience of the Tsavo region of Kenya featuring black rhino and painted dogs, and a Rift Valley area where smaller species can be seen among Kopje rocks, including vultures, aardvarks and warthogs. 

There is currently “no timeline, or potential start date for the grassland project at the moment,” a zoo spokesperson said. 

The project is part of the company’s £225m, 217-acre Natural Visions masterplan, unveiled in 2010.

Chester Zoo reopened on Monday after the Government changed its stance on outdoor attractions and permitted non-essential retail and leisure to restart. But Jamie Christon, chief operating officer at Chester Zoo, said the road to recovery remains uncertain. 

He said: “It’s a huge relief to see visitors back at the zoo and there’s a real buzz of excitement about the place.

“However, while today is celebratory, it’s important to recognise that the past three months of closure means there will still be some very challenging times ahead.

The financial damage suffered has left a deep scar and the road to a full recovery remains uncertain. But now, as we once again start to safely welcome visitors back, we have some renewed hope that this great charity zoo has a future.”

The Save Our Zoo campaign, launched to raise funds for Chester Zoo during its closure, raised more than £1m in the first 24 hours. In its appeal, the zoo said it was heading towards “debt in excess of £24m by the end of 2020” and needed to raise £1.6m a month to “or else be financially crippled”.

Barton Willmore is the planning consultant for the extension project, and Darling Associates is the architect.

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Good, zoos belong in the past

By Leigh

@Leigh – the role of the zoo in this country has changed significantly since the Victorian era.

They now play an critical role in conserving endangered species and species extinct in the wild.

I would ask that you read around the subject further.


By Anonymous

Chester Zoo not only works in research, conservation and animal management techniques but also plays a significant role in education…..I would encourage anyone to go and then decide how valuable an asset it is.

By Anonymous

Zoos and Safari Parks have a place in the modern world, to teach people about the natural world and how best to protect and preserve it not just for people, but for the biodiversity of all species. They are also arks of endangered animals that with breeding programmes can and do release animals back to their native habitats. And until HUMANS learn to respect ALL life, Zoo’s and Safari Parks will always be needed.

By Lukas