A record 1.97m people visited Chester Zoo last year, new figures reveal.
Already the UK’s most popular zoo, the new total of 1,969,768 visitors in 2018 sets an all-time high in the attraction’s 88-year history – 4% up on its previous best in 2016.
Zoo conservationists have issued a public thank you to supporters, with income generated on the gate contributing to the wildlife charity’s vital work to protect endangered species worldwide.
The zoo saw an unprecedented number of rare animal births in 2018. From the UK’s first ever sun bear cub to the birth of a critically endangered rhino calf, conservationists at the zoo have successfully bred some of the world’s most highly threatened animals.
The zoo’s conservationists also achieved a number of high profile breakthroughs and successes in the wild, from the ground-breaking discovery of bongo in Uganda in 2018 to the rescue of 100 songbirds from the illegal wildlife trade and conservation support for UK native species like pine martens in Wales. Chester Zoo bosses have stated that funds generated from the record-breaking visitor figures will enable it to continue to prevent extinction in 2019.
Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer at the zoo, said:
“The whole zoo team would like to thank every single visitor that walked through our gates in 2018, helping us to prevent extinction around the world.
“We are fighting to ensure a future of an array of animals and plants – both here in Chester and through 80 vital conservation projects, spanning 30 different countries. These global initiatives use the latest scientific research, animal welfare knowledge and technical knowhow to ensure the survival of many of the world’s most at-risk species. Importantly, they also support local communities living side-by-side with the animals, ensuring they feel completely invested in protecting the amazing biodiversity around them. None of this would be possible without the fantastic support of our visitors and members.”
With more than 20,000 animals from 500 different species, the zoo is widely acclaimed as the best in the UK and is the country’s most visited attraction outside London. It is firmly established as one of the top 10 zoos in the world – according to users of the travel website, TripAdvisor.
The zoo has major plans to continue to grow as a world-renowned visitor attraction and conservation centre in 2019.
Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer, added: “Later in 2019, we have a number of new state-of-the-art animal habitats opening, including a huge zone that will allow people to experience the habitats and wildlife of Madagascar, as well as an exciting line-up of events for visitors to enjoy throughout the year.”