Madagascan forest where you walk with animals coming to Chester Zoo

If you enjoyed the antics of the animals in popular animated film Madagascar you’re in for a treat, as in a reversal of events animals from Madagascar are coming to Chester Zoo.

The new Madagascar habitat is arriving in time for Easter and features a walk-through primate experience, taking visitors into the heart of the dry forest found on the African island.

This is your chance to see lemurs leaping across the path directly in front of you, or swinging through the trees overhead, in what zoo bosses have described as the best recreation of the unique Madagascan landscape the UK has ever seen.

Measuring in at 6,000 square metres, the specially designed animal habitats will be home to four rare species of lemur as well the fossa - the nation’s largest carnivore and top predator.

The fossa is a cat-like, carnivorous mammal which moves swiftly through the trees, meaning scientists have trouble researching and observing its habits, and as such we still don’t know much about it. Unfortunately, its numbers are plummeting in the wild and it’s vulnerable to extinction, so it’s hoped that experts at the zoo will be able to gain valuable insights into its behaviours.

Visitors will have to be patient when looking out for the lemurs, as the animals will also have access to indoor areas, so they can decide where they want to spend their day. A lot of time has gone in to the selection of plants, shrubs and trees, to provide both a world-class habitat for the animals and a true-to-life experience for the public.

Chester Zoo’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mark Pilgrim, said:

For many years we have been fighting to protect threatened habitats in Madagascar, working side-by-side with local communities and conservation partners in the country. It’s the world’s most biodiverse island, home to some of the most beautiful species on Earth, but the future of wildlife there is perilous. Recreating large-scale, unique Madagascan habitats for rare lemurs and fossa, right here in Chester, is an important part of our global conservation plan. As an education charity, we passionately hope it will inspire a nation of conservationists here in the UK too.

According to scientists Madagascar has lost around 90% of its forests already, a shockingly high figure which means that many species are on the brink of extinction, and the native lemurs are now the planet’s single biggest priority for primate conservation.

Madagascar opens at Chester Zoo this Saturday, March 30th, and entry is included in the usual ticket prices (adults £23.63 and children £19.09), which are available on their website.

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