Work has begun on The Silk Road at the National Zoo of Wales in Colwyn Bay, Conwy, which will house the zoo’s snow leopards.
The project has spent several years in development, and secured funding via crowdfunding and attracting endorsements.
The Silk Road involves building a home for the zoo’s snow leopards, which will feature replicas of the mountainous regions in which the endangered species lives. An elevated walkway will surround the enclosure and also offer views across the zoo and the Carneddau mountains.
Wynne Construction, based in Bodelwyddan, Rhyl, has been appointed to the project. Work is expected to complete in spring 2020, and will be open to the public soon after.
Nick Jackson, chief executive of the Welsh Mountain Zoo, said: “It is really fantastic to finally see the Silk Road project get underway. This is one of the most exciting and innovative developments that we have seen here at the Welsh Mountain Zoo.
“We believe no other zoo or wildlife attraction in the UK has taken a similar imaginative leap in combining the Zoo community’s traditional offers of promoting biodiversity, conservation and tourism/leisure experiences, with the cultural and environmental interests of two very different nations.
“Not only will the Silk Road be an important new chapter in the history of the zoo, but it will also be of significant benefit to the region as a whole.”