Chester Zoo has announced the opening date of its £40m 12-acre Islands development, with the zoo extension open to the public on Monday 13 July.
Laing O'Rourke has been on site at the Islands since the beginning of 2014. According to Chester Zoo, the scheme is one of the biggest developments in the history of UK zoos.
The project involves transforming an unoccupied part of the zoo estate into replicas of exotic islands from the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi.
See below for drawings and site photos from the Islands
Linked by a series of bridges and including a journey on water, Islands will be home to animals and plants from South East Asian islands and will see visitors set-off on an expedition through detailed recreations of natural habitats.
Islands includes Monsoon Forest, a major new Indonesian jungle house, which will be the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK and home to Sumatran orangutans, Sulawesi macaques and a new species for the zoo, the sunda gavial crocodile.
It is expected that it will take zoo visitors two hours to journey their way around Islands.
The architect on the project is Dan Pearlman. Hill Dickinson advises Chester Zoo. Barton Willmore advised on the planning for the scheme.
Jamie Christon, the zoo's managing director, said: "Islands will see the dawning of a new age, creating an unparalleled visitor experience. Although our fabulous animals will provide a huge draw for visitors, the journey itself – all of the sounds, smells, colours and culture of these islands – will bring everything to life.
"Islands is about immersion – transporting visitors thousands of miles away to experience the splendour of the animals, plants and the cultural aspects of these far-flung places. It will take our visitors on an adventure where, for a couple of hours, they'll feel like they're exploring South East Asia."
Other animals visitors will encounter include banteng cattle, cassowaries, anoa and babirusa.
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