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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
New home for zoo's nine elephants
Asian elephant
The zoo has been breeding Asian elephants since 1977
A 3m house is opening at Chester Zoo to accommodate its nine Asian elephants.

The Elephants of the Asian Forest building has been designed to enable the zoo to continue its breeding work.

It will also house other species including Hornbills, tree shrews, peafowl, squirrels and tortoises.

The house has been built after a fundraising campaign saw 1.5m raised by the public, and 500,000 raised from a private appeal.

The house will officially open on Saturday.

The elephant house at Chester Zoo
The house is also home to hornbills and tree shrews
Mark Pilgrim, director of conservation and education, said: "We have been breeding Asian elephants since 1977 and have what is one of the most dynamic and successful breeding herds in Europe.

"This new facility will enable us to continue that work whilst providing continued and excellent care for our existing herd.

"Elephants of the Asian Forest, however, is not just about our own elephants but about spreading the message of the dangers faced by their counterparts in the wild.

"Asian elephants are listed on the IUCN Red List as an endangered species and their numbers are shrinking rapidly.

"Using interpretation in the new facility enables us to spread that message to the general public and to also inform them about the conservation arm of Chester Zoo."

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