FORGET lions and tigers, animal experts at Chester Zoo believe the UK’s native species are just as interesting.
And to prove it they've created a unique wildlife haven to showcase creatures from sparrowhawks to hedgehogs.
The two-acre nature reserve, free of charge to the public, highlights a traditional Cheshire landscape and is already home to a wide variety of local wildlife, including birds, mammals and insects.
It has been developed with wildflower meadows, 150 native trees, a wildlife pond and a grass amphitheatre which will be used for environmentally-themed events and as an outside classroom for schools.
Sarah Bird, Chester Zoo’s biodiversity officer, said: “Chester Zoo’s conservation activities extend far beyond the zoo animals we know and love. We believe conservation begins at home and in the UK we are responsible for looking after native species right here on our doorstep. The nature reserve is already home to some amazing species such as the sparrowhawk and the hedgehog.
“By opening up this beautiful and tranquil area to the public we aim to inspire people to take a longer look at the nature around them and discover how they can play their part in looking after it.”
Youngsters from Acresfield Primary School, Upton, were the first to try out the nature reserve, helping to identify bugs and insects. Chester Zoo trustee and horticulture expert Professor Stefan Buczacki, who spent 12 years as a panel member and chairman of BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time, opened the site.