Nearly 1.9 million visitors flocked to Chester Zoo last year – an all-time record for any UK zoo.
Figures recorded by the attraction, which is home to more than 20,000 animals and more than 500 different species, were the highest in its 85-year history.
Income generated from ticket sales will go to support vital conservation work protecting threatened species from extinction in 30 countries around the world.
From initiatives to help frogs in Madagascar and song birds in Indonesia to conservation projects for elephants in India, funds raised will be a huge boost to Chester Zoo’s Act For Wildlife conservation programmes.
Dr Mark Pilgrim, chief executive officer at the zoo, said: “A huge thank you goes out to everyone who walked through our gates in 2016.
“We rely on our visitors to help deliver 80 vital conservation projects to protect threatened species – and the local communities that live alongside them – all around the world.
“That work includes a commitment to scientific conservation research; sending our keepers abroad to offer hands on welfare and technical advice in the wild and equipping rangers and field workers with the tools they need to protect endangered animals.
“We couldn’t do all this without the brilliant, growing support of our visitors.”
The zoo recorded 1,896,401 visits in 2016 – 12 per cent up on 2015 which was already the highest ever for the attraction.
The figures come after the zoo was named the best zoo in the UK and within the top 10 globally by travel website TripAdvisor, as well as featuring in hit Channel 4 show The Secret Life of the Zoo.
Meanwhile, a report last year by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) placed Chester Zoo as the UK’s most visited paid for visitor attraction outside London, while an Economic Impact report published in December outlined that the attraction boosts the North West of England’s economy by almost £50 million per year.
The zoo’s research during the summer of 2016 showed an increase in visitors from the local area, the wider UK and international tourists.
It also highlighted unprecedented satisfaction ratings, with 99 per cent of visitors surveyed suggesting they would recommend Chester Zoo to friends and family.
Starting in January 2017, the zoo will the launch a new phase of improvements to further its status as one of the world’s best zoos, in line with the ‘always building’ ethos of founder George Mottershead.
Dr Pilgrim added: “Opening this summer, we will be taking a playful turn with a brand new Madagascan Play habitat for our family visitors, creating lots of fun and adventure for people to enjoy across the zoo.”