Grasslands 6

GALLERY | Zoo targets 2022 opening for Grasslands

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Chester Zoo has unveiled plans for its newest attraction, an extensive African savannah habitat featuring giraffes, zebra, ostriches and antelopes, alongside a range of lodges and safari tents for overnight stays.

A planning application has been submitted by landscape architect Gillespies, Darling Associates, BDP and North of England Zoological Society to Cheshire West & Chester Council.

The Grasslands development forms part of the 217-acre Natural Visions Masterplan, which included the £40m Islands development opened in 2016.

According to planning documents Grasslands will be “a landscape-led project that creates an immersive and distinctive environment, with a number of discrete buildings supporting the visitor and wildlife requirements”.

Grasslands is set to include an African Wetlands Aviary with a flock of flamingos and viewing platform, and a large, open African savannah habitat, containing the Rothschild’s giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, ostrich and Roan antelope.

Next to the savannah, the Zoo is planning a Tsavo experience 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.

The project includes a  restaurant with views over the savannah, alongside overnight accommodation made up of 28 lodges and 14 tents overlooking a lake, with views of the bachelor giraffe habitat. Darling Associates, formerly Architect CT, designed the overnight accommodation.

To enable the scheme, the existing zebra and antelope indoor habitats and crane outdoor habitats will be removed and rebuilt, as well as the existing monorail.

Subject to planning consent, completion is targeted for 2022.

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I really don’t know why anyone wants to visit a zoo these days. The idea of keeping animals locked up for our entertainment is totally unethical and squanders resources which would be better spent on preserving animals’ natural habitats.

By John

@John, well unfortunately owing to the rapidly declining habitats in which many of these animals live, Zoo’s have become a lifeline for breeding programmes, research and continuation of the species. They’re also invaluable in educating people about the animals and impacts on their environments, its a far cry from simply ‘locking animals up for entertainment’. Chester zoo is a tremendous organisation and does an amazing amount for conservation.

By Wellity

In the past I would have agreed John, but now with animals in the wild in such danger and decline it seems like a zoo might be a safer place for them. As part of a conservation effort of course.

By Anon

Finest collection of ghostly figures this side of a Scooby Do movie. But no flock of birds? Why?


If you like birds, I know a cracking owl sanctuary.

By Alan Partridge

Zoos always use the defence of conservation and education when ethical issues are raised. As Chester zoo is a charity their financial records are publicly available for anyone to view. Their 2016 expenditure details show that of the £36.9m they spent only 5% was used for conservation projects in the field whereas 28% of their expenditure went on catering and retail provision on site. @ Wellity you state they do an ‘amazing’ amount for conservation. The only amazing thing here is the disparity between the two percentage figures I mention above. This is the truth about UK zoos and in the future they will increasingly need to rely on technology rather than live animals as the world awakens to the fact that these organisations are outdated and unethical.

By John

@John, not sure you appreciate how wonderful zoos are for education and expanding the minds of those who visit. issue with Chester Zoo, which is fabulous, is the cost to attend is a barrier for the working classes.

By Nukins

Thats still £1.8m per annum contribution from a financially sustainable business. Maybe you can convince Amazon / Google to contribute this instead and then we can all live happily ever after

By Alan Partridge