Truly wild at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo may be globally renowned for having the largest Chimpanzee colony in Europe and an exciting Asian elephant breeding programme among its astonishingly diverse animal collection, but as I discovered on a recent visit, the grounds are home to many native plants and animals.

Living among brightly coloured Village Weaver birds and other exotic species are hosts of Tree and Hedge sparrows, while Moorhens with their fluffy black chicks feed on floating vegetation in the moats and ditches. Within its 110 acres of gardens, numerous British trees have been planted around ponds, hedgerows and visitor car parks. Its Wildlife Garden comprises compost heaps, logs, bird and bat boxes, feeders, vegetables, a herbaceous border and wild flowers, creating the ideal environment for butterflies, beetles and bees to flourish.

Not only does the zoo boast a Green Team – whose sole purpose is to improve environmental policies and practices – but it is also the first UK zoo (only the second in Europe) to be awarded ISO14001, which is an internationally recognised standard for commitment to taking care of the environment.

The attraction actively supports its local community by helping to improve the area of Upton-by-Chester through long-term, sustainable projects, which are beneficial to wildlife. It also takes every opportunity to raise public awareness about the decline of some of the UK’s indigenous species.

In 2010, micro moth expert, Steve Hind discovered the larvae of a Stigmella viscerella (more commonly known as the Plain Elm Pigmy moth) on the leaf of an English Elm tree growing at the edge of the zoo’s land. This find caused great excitement during one of the attractions’ Native Species conservation programme’s regular moth trapping sessions – especially as it was last recorded in the County over 100 years earlier.

Whether it’s releasing hundreds of rare Fen raft spiders into the wild or issuing warnings about the plight of Harvest Mice during cold weather, the zoo’s team is never less than passionate about the survival of each and every creature, however diminutive.

Wherever you stand on the question of whether zoos should exist or not in the modern world (and it’s my opinion that such places are now essential to the survival of many endangered animals), you cannot fail but to be impressed by the conservation charity’s dedication to the preservation of both British and international wildlife.


About GaiaBird

Nature lover, conservationist and blogger living in the North Wales Borderlands' region.
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4 Responses to Truly wild at Chester Zoo

  1. eve parry says:

    I enjoyed it Paula, and I loved the “wig bird” at the top of the page! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


  2. I think zoos are wonderful. I’ve never been to Chester, but this post really makes me want to go. I love that image of the Moorhens with their fluffy black chicks!

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