A section of Chester Zoo which was damaged by fire two years ago has reopened. Chester Zoo’s Monsoon Forest, which houses orangutans and crocodiles, was damaged in December 2018 when an electrical fault caused a fire that sadly killed some birds, fish and insects, as well as causing damage to the roof.
Cheshire Live reports that after 22 months of work Chester Zoo, the UK’s most visited zoo which received more than two million visitors for the first time in 2019, reopened the attraction on Saturday 24 October.
Zoo chief executive Dr Mark Pilgrim said: “Building a little bit of the Indonesian rainforest in Chester takes an enormous amount of skill and work.”
On that fateful December, zoo staff led many of the animals to safety while firefighters fought the blaze, which was fully extinguished within hours. Within a week, a fundraising page had raised over £220,000.
Dr Pilgrim said: “We had insurance to cover all of this but we raised so much money that we were able to do some really great conservation projects in South East Asia.”
The zoo’s chief operating officer Jamie Christon said the restoration had been a painstaking process, as the damaged building had to be completely cleared out before work could commence.
The new Monsoon Forest area now hosts 33 animal species, including Sumatran orangutans, rhinoceros hornbills and tentacled snakes - a reptile that cannot be seen anywhere else in the UK, a zoo spokesperson said.
The building also has its own weather system, which means it can rain indoors and reach temperatures of 27C (81F) in an effort to replicate the climate of South East Asia.
Visitors must book tickets in advance and wear face coverings.
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