GOVERNMENT cuts mean Chester Zoo is scaling back expansion plans with its £70m bio-dome put on hold.
The Heart of Africa bio-dome, dubbed the Eden Project of the north, was due to be the first phase of the £225m Natural Vision scheme but has now been postponed for the foreseeable future.
In addition, plans for a hotel are also on hold along with the proposed re-modelling of the car park.
The changes follow the abolition of the North West Regional Development Agency with the loss of £40m potential funding.
However, the zoo is going ahead with a £30m world-class visitor experience, given the working title ‘Islands’, featuring species from the world’s islands which will be visited by boat.
Islands, which should attract a extra 150,000 visitors a year, will pull together species including Sumatran orangutans, Sumatran tigers, sun bears, Malayan tapir, lemurs, Sumatran and Philippine crocodiles.
There will also be hornbills, Visayan warty pigs, spotted deer, Komodo dragons, babirusa pigs and other birds, reptiles and invertebrates.
Zoo director general Dr Mark Pilgrim said: “Being isolated means islands often contain wonderfully unique yet highly threatened wildlife.”
“Islands will be a world-class development of the south west side of the zoo that will create an unparalleled visitor experience.”
Islands will also showcase the zoo’s conservation programmes in Sumatra, Madagascar, Mascarenes, Philippines and Indonesia. It will also include educational exhibits, play areas, restaurants and food stands.
Plans are being developed with construction due to start in 2012 and take 18 months to complete. The project is the first phase of the 15-year Natural Vision development.