Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Sunday, 28 June 2009 11:39 UK

Zoo's rainforest plans considered

The 90m Heart of Africa rainforest dome
The plans will make the zoo Europe's largest conservation centre

Plans to transform Chester Zoo into Europe's largest conservation attraction are to go before the public.

The £225m project includes a 56 hectare indoor African-themed rainforest where gorillas, chimpanzees and other tropical animals could move freely.

The £90m "Heart of Africa" dome, which would form the initial phase of the scheme, would be the first of its kind in the UK.

Chester Zoo is holding four public forums to get residents' views.

The project, called Natural Vision, includes a Conservation College and a revamped main entrance linking it to a marina development on zoo land next to the Shropshire Union Canal.

'Share plans'

Four drop-in sessions are being held where the project team can answer questions from the public.

Simon Mann, Chester Zoo Development Director, said: "Natural Vision is the largest development project ever to be undertaken by Chester Zoo and will ultimately provide an unrivalled visitor experience and make a major contribution to conservation and sustainability.

"We want to work as a part of the wider community and so we would like to share our exciting plans with the people of Chester, Cheshire and beyond and hear their views."

The sessions will held on 17, 18, 24 and 25 July.

The forums on 17 and 18 July will be held at the zoo's Cedar House building on Caughall Road, Upton.

The session on 24 July will be held at Marks and Spencer in Chester and the final event is at Cheshire Oaks on 25 July.

The zoo, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in May, attracts 1.3m visitors a year.

The new project would be expected to see visitors rise to 2m when complete. Chester Zoo spans 50 hectares but owns another 200.



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