Plans for the long awaited reopening of Chester Zoo’s Monsoon Forest are now in crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The reopening of the Monsoon Forest was due to be a huge event at the attraction this summer – almost two years after fire devastated the animal habitat due to an electrical fault.
The completion of the multi-million pound restoration would have been celebrated with a big celebration at the zoo, to which the firefighters who tackled the blaze would have been specially invited, reports Cheshire Live.
The highly anticipated project had been almost complete before the coronavirus pandemic plunged the UK into lockdown, forcing the zoo to close.
But this week’s devastating news that the government have ordered it to remain shut has cast doubt on whether the public will ever even get to see the newly restored attraction.
Speaking to Cheshire Live this week, the zoo’s chief operating officer Jamie Christon said the project was ‘almost finished’ and ready to reopen.
He said: “We were just waiting on a few plants and trees to arrive and get that all finished but yes, it was all set to open again.
“But that was all put on hold with the pandemic and obviously at the present time we can’t afford to bring back staff who would have been working on it,” he added.
It has been a highly complex project, with everything in the Monsoon Forest having to be replaced.
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Part of the £40m Islands project, the habitat was only three years old when the fire destroyed it, but everything had to be completely ripped out to be sure of no contamination.
Speaking last year, Jamie said: “t was a great shame to get rid of all the trees that had been maturing beautifully but we need to make sure nothing is contaminated. It will look and feel the same as it did – there’ll be no major changes to it.”
He went on to say there would be a ‘huge celebration’ to mark its reopening, but this sadly does not look likely to happen at any point in the near future.
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