Chester Zoo opens new nature reserve

The zoo has transformed former farmland to provide more habitats for native species.

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Chester Zoo is unveiling the new part of the nature reserve on Friday, which is already home to a wide range of species including hedgehogs and harvest mice.

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The original nature reserve was formed in 2013, and the new section is a 600% expansion.

“This area was formerly used for agriculture, but over the past two years we have been carefully restoring it to allow nature to move in and thrive,” says Sarah Bird, biodiversity officer at Chester Zoo.

“It now comprises wildflower meadows, ponds, beetle banks, log piles, trees and a reedbed, with a hide for viewing the wildlife.”

A number of camera traps on the reserve have revealed the presence of red fox and hedgehogs, and there have been occasional sightings of otters too.

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Red foxes have been seen on the nature reserve via camera traps. © Chester Zoo

“With over 97 per cent of our wildflower meadows destroyed since the last world war, everything we can do to put some colour back into the countryside helps,” says Dr Trevor Dines, a botanist and supporter of the reserve.”

The new meadow at Chester Zoo is a thrilling example, and I can’t wait to see flowers like yellow rattle, red clover and knapweed appear, providing valuable nectar and pollen to bees, butterflies and other pollinators.”

The 60,000m2 nature reserve is located adjacent to the main zoo, but will be free to visitors. It includes a walking trail and is accessible to wheelchairs and buggies.

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The nature reserve includes bird hides © Chester Zoo

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Main image: The new reserve will benefit a range of species, including insects © Chester Zoo