Manchester Zoo
An artist's impression of the zoo taken from its website

Manchester Zoo lines up 100-acre Rochdale home

Dan Whelan and Jessica Middleton-Pugh

The company aiming to bring a zoo to Greater Manchester is in advanced talks with Rochdale Council to take over four parcels of land totalling 100 acres near Hopwood Hall in Middleton.

Former zookeeper Johnpaul Houston, who is heading up the project, was previously understood to be looking at sites to the south of the city region, around Trafford.

However Manchester Zoo, the company set up by Houston in 2017, and Rochdale Council are in advanced talks on a land deal, with the agreement discussed at the council’s cabinet last Thursday.

The council has confirmed it will hold a public consultation while a planning application is expected later this year.

A railway interchange at Slattocks could be built as part of the project.

Houston is understood to have already lined up funding for the development, and is in various negotiations around locating animals to the site.

Manchester Zoo is “focused on creating an immersive experience, supporting important conservation projects and conducting research to benefit animals both at home and abroad,” according to its website.

“You will get the chance to meet some of the beautiful native animals of Manchester, as well exotic species from all over the world, including locations such as Madagascar”.

If successful, the zoo will become the first in Manchester since Belle Vue Zoological Gardens closed in 1977.

Barton Willmore is the planner for the project, with experience advising on various expansion projects at Chester Zoo.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

Madagascar comes to Middleton, love it!!

Bet someone’s going to moan about traffic etc. “Our vets is full enough already without all these new animals coming in, how will I get an appointment for my Cockerpoo now!”

By Same Old Housebuilder Bashing

If you want to see wild animals just go to Piccadilly Gardens

By Bo

I just had to check the calendar to make sure it’s not April 1st

By Dan

Building a prison for animals in 2020 will be difficult

By Richard Millie

Beautiful native animals of Manchester? Mancs?.

By A Cynical

As a Slattocks resident, I actually find this news quite exciting.

By Gill Willman

This would be brilliant

By Gill

Wow what a wonderful idea. .conservation of our animals are an important step to preserve our species and to educate people not to hurt kill or maim animals they have a right to live as well.

By Andrew burgess

“You will get the chance to meet some of the beautiful native animals of Manchester”

Rats and grey squirrels?!

By Anonymous

Fantastic idea for the are

By Linda

Wonderful idea and project for Middleton and Manchester certainly put the area on the map being near to railways and motorways a new era on the horizon

By Brian wild

Brilliant . Better than houses .

By Barbara

Another animal prison? What year are we in! Expect the words Conservation & Education to litter the bid. It’s all a con, basically crap.

By Sue Berry

You’re having a laugh

By J Chadwick

This must be an April 1st hoax! Utterly preposterous, yet another hair brained scheme from RBC. Have their brains become completely addled? TOTALLY opposed to this proposal.

By Slattocks Lad

Will be lovely

By Julie faccini

Great News

By Roy bridge

This site is already home to rare species and ancient woodland, should we not be protecting what little we have left?

By Green Man

Animals should not be caged up & out of their natural environment for the gratification of humans. It is so cruel.

By A Williams

Your gonna have zoo? My god are you living in the 19th century. That’s just too unbelievable for words. It just goes to show that without gorgeous George and dodgy Dave, Manchester regresses. I won’t wish you luck with that one

By George

Brilliant. This might get the public transport improved. Like trains to and from manchester oh and a better bus service

By Maggy

I can’t believe someone is wanting to build a zoo they are terrible for the animals and are incredibly cruel if you want to see wild animals watch David Attenborough

By Tara

This is the WORST news I’ve heard in many years. I honestly can’t believe this is happening. Let’s hope it doesn’t go ahead.

By Anonymous

Zoo = Prison.
Inexcusable they’re still building these things in this day and age. If they really gave a toss about wildlife, give the money to the countries the animals should be living in, it would go a lot further…

By Realist

Manchester doesn’t want a zoo. I will OBJECT TO THIS..ZOOS ARE TORTURE CHAMBERS. ANIMALS DON’T BELONG IN SMALL ENCLOSURES. ROAM FREE PARKS LIKE KNOWSLEY WE WILL ACCEPT.

By Tracey

Sorry but at the age of 77 I was thinking we’d seen the back of ogling at animals in zoos

By Penny Krantz

Iam sure þhe homeless will be so happy to know animal’s from all over the world take residence over them

By Gwen calland

It’s 2020.. i thought we were getting past the exploitation of animals? ? I homestly had to cehck it wasn’t April 1st cause this is a joke

By Rio

Absolute rubbish Manchester do not need a prison for animals to be put into enclosures for profit! Life time of hell behind bars

By Sheryl

This is a step backwards, exploiting animals in this way, oh how we treat god’s creatures for our enjoyment.

By Tarzan

There is already Chester Zoo, there is no need for another, inferior zoo

By Floyd

The world needs animal sanctuaries, not zoos. Animals suffer stress and zoochosis in zoos. Ogled day by day by the public in unnatural settings. Look to the Born Free foundation and Sheldrick Wildlife for organisations that truly support the care of wild animals. I’m very disappointed to hear about this new zoo.

By Jan O'Donnell

Too many animals, not enough bike lanes.

By daveboi

As long as they include a dinosaur safari, I’m happy.

By Me

Fantastic idea for a zoo. Sure, some people are against them, and that’s great for your opinion and all, but huge other numbers love them. Just looking at attendences in zoo’s across the world, we can still see how popular they are. The biggest problem here is that Chester Zoo is so close and so popular, plus a lion safari park nearby. This will be smaller and there is another zoo north of Manchester in Blackpool. This will need a Metrolink stop nearby for it to compete against the other zoos and safar park which are car dependent.

By Joe

Unbelievable. Why not throw in some wind turbines and a bit of fracking or perhaps a prison. It’s ridiculous.

By Anonymous

I personally think it would be one of Rochdale’s most positive decisions they have made, hope they give the go ahead for a zoo! This would bring revenue as well as put Rochdale on the map for families. It was such a shame Bell Vue zoo had to close many year ago.

By H. Corcoran

Manchester nor anywhere else does NOT need a zoo. CAPTIVITY kills. Conservation like this does not work. Please reconsider.

By Catherine

There is absolutely no need to have another captive animal facility. Zoos do not educate people about animals, they just teach kids st an inpressanavle age that it’s ok to incarcerate animals. That humans have the right, because we have the means and the power, to exploit them for our own amusement. It is not fair to hold animals in unnatural enclosures, feeling stressed and anxious and not leading the life they want and deserve. Please fo not allow this facility to be granted permission. It would be a step backwards when the world is finally waking up to animal rights and welfare

By Mercedes MacFarlane

Animals do not belong in captivity. There is nothing educational about zoos.

By Ellen Stewart

We do not need another animal prison

By Fran Robinson

We don’t need another zoo no more animal prisons so just greedy people can make money out of wild animals

By K M

Zoos are cruel full stop-even’breeding programmes’domestic animals are abused’-there is enough information online,without caging an animal.I don’t need to take my family to visit and see lions and giraffes in a zoo-in the middle if rochdale it has nothing to do with an animal up close.if i was desperate to see a giraffe i would move to africa.Promote respect for our wildlife and pets

By Jacky

No,no,It’s frightening and so wrong-Belle vue existed when people didn’t know any better or care.Rochdale doesn’t need animals trapped in a zoo-a depressing word on it’s own.I just hope more people get onto this issue

By Jacky

#captivityiscruel

By nicky

It’s ironic that a piece of countryside with a functioning ecosystem with native species could be lost in the name of conservation education.

By Anonymous

Great idea, hope it goes through. If they do annual passes then sign me up.

By Omar

Love to see a Animals Zoo in Rochdale for the kids *

By ASHFAQ AHMED

I remember Bellevue Zoo in Manchester. I ride the lovely elephant as a child – have lived elephants ever since.

By Brenda

The elephant at Belle Vue was called Mary of Ceylon.

By Elephant

Great news for Middleton and slattocks, what a boost for the area, anything that brings jobs and education in animals and inspiration for young vets has got to be good, so many kids don’t have a chance to bond and understand animals from a round the world, and the how difficult it is for them to servive in this world,like monkey world in Dorset has done a great job to increase awareness and the mistreatment of monkeys around the world, and rase fund to help them, bring it on

By Chris

Please do not open a zoo. We call ourselves a progressive country and yet we are considering bringing animals that do not belong in Manchester here to put behind bars in the name of education and conservation. Let’s face it this is about making money only without any thought for the animals’ welfare. Our planet is dying, but instead of re-wilding the area, growing trees and allowing natural wildlife to re-establish itself, you’re considering a concrete jungle that will mean killing animals whilst clearing the land to say nothing of the resources in building it. Please reconsider this, it’s a bad idea and it’s bigger and braver to admit that know and do something worthwhile instead. Thanks

By Lisa

Hopwood Woods are a Nature Reserve. It’s beautiful and peaceful. I have lived near the Woods for many years. I really worry about our native wild life if the zoo is built. Carnage and concrete does not appeal at all. DO NOT BUILD THIS ZOO. Stop seeing £ signs for once.

By Concerned

How do you apply for a job

By Jeff Brookes

So are you going to build on woodland, a nature reserve and greenbelt? Is this a proper definition of conservation?

By Beth

So you want to build on what is a beautiful and peaceful nature reserve? Turn the area into a traffic jammed nightmare and destroy the little countryside we have left to hold animals captive?? Traffic can already be a problem during rush hour and school times not to mention the smell from a zoo that people living in the area would have to put up with. Awful for the residents, countryside and captive animals!!

By Lyndsey

NO NO NO! Leave the animals in their natural habitat! Would you like to be in a cage your whole life?

By Sam bishop

We don’t need any more animal prisons but more housing. This is beyond a joke!

By Mini

No! No!No!
This is 21st century not 19th
No place on Earth for zoos . Who do humans think they are ? We have no right to cage other species . Humans aren’t caged …. animals have as much right to freedom as we do

By Jill Kelly

Please consider against this zoo, it is exploitation of all the poor animals and I have never seen a happy stress-free creature at any zoo. They are all miserable, screaming in discomfort, and scared of their containment. This is a big mistake to forward with such a thing like this. Animals are not here for us, they are hear with us and have a right to be left alone.

By Andrew Birch

No, let’s not cage and imprison animals in Manchester. We are all educated enough to know this is wrong.

We can learn about conservation on the TV and internet we don’t need to trap animals for this.
If you think otherwise you’re deluded.

Let’s preserve the greenery that is already here

By Ella smith

It’s great entertainment for Greater Manchester I think it is very good idea should be successful I wish them good luck

By Abid nawaz

For those exceptical ones,you should visit Valencia´s bioparc,which is near the Alicante´s tourism resorts in Spain,it is a very oraring success and animals live in true to nature conditions biomes as if they were in Africa,that is going to be an immersive animal park just as this one,it takes part in some endangered species´re-introduction schemes into their home wilderness!

By frank gómez

So devastating for the area that is already so rich with wildlife. There are deer’s, hares, foxes, owls, woodpeckers, frogs, bats, ducks and migrating geese and too many more to mention. This is a tranquil haven in the midst of a concrete jungle and personally I think it is devastating for the area. The road network cannot cope now and the beautiful greenery will become more roads and carparks. This is a money grabbing council that has no respect for the area. There are Zoos and wildlife parks within easy access, this is not required and extremely unwelcome. There are housing developments going on all around the area eating and eroding away at the greenbelt of our town, this is a disgrace. The council should be ashamed of itself and the lack of consideration for people living here is a damned insult.

By AJM

Another venue Manchester wants most probably the uk government will pay like everything else. But I’m up for it. Liverpool have a zoo and safari park. Something you mancs would love.

By Frank Donovan