Page last updated at 07:48 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 08:48 UK

Visitor boost for wildlife centre

Wild Bird Discovery Centre at Saltholme
The Saltholme centre opened to the public in January

A multi-million pound Teesside wildlife centre has attracted more than 30,000 visitors since opening in January.

Bosses at the £7m Saltholme Wild Bird Discovery Centre, near Middlesbrough, say they are on target to attract 100,000 by the end of the year.

The 1,000-acre (440-hectare) reserve was developed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Teesside Environmental Trust.

It has created about 20 jobs and will give a £1m boost to the economy.

Stacy Hall, director of communications and tourism at regional development agency One North East, said: "It's fantastic to see that Saltholme is proving to be an exciting new attraction bringing visitors from far and wide, including Australia and South Africa."

Toby Collett, Saltholme's assistant warden, said the reserve had also attracted a number of rare birds, including a great white egret and a male pochard - both thought to have travelled from France.

The reserve's design features a futuristic structure that emerges out of the lakeside landscape through a feather-like roof structure, rising from the ground storey to a second-storey viewing tower.

Visitors reach the centre using a drawbridge over the water and are offered panoramic views across the Saltholme site.

Among the sights on display are brightly-coloured butterflies, orchids, swans and common terns.

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