The first glimpse of the biggest development seen in the history of UK zoos has been unveiled. Chester Zoo has released images of its £30 million “Islands” development – a conservation expedition bringing the islands of the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi to the heart of Cheshire.

“Islands” will not just showcase the areas where the zoo works but will be a platform for some of the most endangered animals on the planet. Visitors will travel through the “Islands” by boat or on foot and will navigate mangroves, swamps, bamboo and tropical forests. “Islands” will also include a major new Indonesian tropical house which will be the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK and home to orangutans.

Designed by architects from the dan pearlman group in Germany, the whole project hones in on the different vegetation and architecture seen on the various islands – taking visitors on a highly themed, atmospheric and immersive journey which includes educational exhibits, play areas, restaurants and village-style food stands. Kieran Stanley, CEO dan pearlman: “The Islands project is about immersion, it`s about taking you there, to experience the wild animals in their natural habitats. The details along the way tell authentic stories of the amazing things that happen on islands, the Chester Zoo conservation team and it`s work in the field. The challenge for us as architects is to create a holistic seamless experience for the visitors, whilst integrating over 25 buildings and facilities along a one an a half kilometer long jungle path through 50.000 sqm of landscape. Some people tell stories, we like to build them.” Work is expected to start in Autumn this year with the entire zone planned to open to the public by Easter 2015.

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