As a departure from the more traditional APM events, in early June the North West branch organised a summer safari with the help of the North of England Zoological Society, Turner & Townsend and Laing ORourke. This unique event, held at Chester Zoo, gave an insight into the new Islands Project a 30 million development now under construction and set to open in 2015.
One of the biggest zoo developments in Europe, Islands will replicate the environment of Indonesian islands creating a habitat for south east Asian animals and plants.
It will include the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK; a major new Indonesian jungle house, which will be home to Sumatran orangutans, Sulawesi macaques and (a new species for the zoo) the sunda gavial crocodile.
Islands is a complex project that includes the creation of landscaping themed to each island, an exotic boat journey and world-class animal exhibits which marry the exact needs of our animals with the best experience for visitors, explained Simon Mann, Chester Zoos development director.
Simon welcomed APM members & guests to the venue and explained the history of the zoo which was opened in 1931 by George Mottershead. By the time he died in 1978, aged 84, Georges dream of a zoo without bars was well and truly flourishing at Chester.
Over 50 people attended the event and were treated to a private tour of the spirit of the jaguars when the zoo was closed to the public. Zoo keepers spent time explaining the animals' habits and answering visitors' questions. The animals themselves left their 2001 home, sponsored by Jaguar cars, and one of the publics favorite buildings in Cheshire, to lie in the evening sun watching APM members. Visits to some other animals, such as penguins and flamingos with some close-up views of tiger cubs, were included in the tour.
The event was completed with a barbeque meal served outside the Zoos Oakfield Manor conference facility. Fortunately for all in attendance the weather also played its part allowing the meal to be taken in the late evening sunshine.
Committee member, North West branch