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Chester Zoo Reopens Monsoon Forest Exhibit

After 22 months of work, Chester Zoo’s Monsoon Forest, which was damaged by a fire two years ago has reopened to the public.

The Monsoon Forest was damaged when an electrical fault caused a fire which damaged the roof in December 2018, sadly causing the death of some birds, fish, and insects. But the attraction, which houses orangutans and crocodiles reopened on 24 October, reports Cheshire Live.

Dr Mark Pilgrim, chief executive of the UK’s most popular zoo which saw over two million visitors for the first time in 2019, said: "Building a little bit of the Indonesian rainforest in Chester takes an enormous amount of skill and work."

Zoo staff led animals to safety when the incident occurred, while firefighters tackled the blaze, extinguishing it in a matter of hours. A fund-raising page was set up that raised over £220,000 in a week.

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."

Jamie Christon, the zoo’s chief operating officer, explained that it had been a painstaking process, as the exhibit had to be completely cleared out before restoration work could begin, even the plants and the soil needed to be removed.

The restored 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 state-of-the-art building even has its own weather control system, meaning it can rain indoors and reach temperatures of 27C (81F) to replicate the climate of South East Asia.

Visitors must book tickets in advance and wear face coverings.

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