CHESTER Zoo has announced it is closing to visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The popular attraction had previously announed it was staying open earlier this week, albeit with its cafes and restaurants closed, and with extra measures to improve hygiene and safety.

But today (Saturday, March 21) the zoo has announced it is closing to visitors following Government advice on social distancing.

A statement on its website said: "Following Government advice on social distancing, Chester Zoo will close its gates to visitors for the foreseeable future, from 4.30pm today, Saturday, March 21.

"How long this will be for, we simply don’t know, but we really hope it plays a part in slowing down the spread of this awful virus.

"Rest assured, that our incredibly dedicated animal experts, including zookeepers, vets and scientists will continue to ensure that the animals at the zoo enjoy the same levels of care and attention they receive all year round.

"Meanwhile, various other teams will be working from home and will continue fighting to give a brighter future for endangered species all around the world.

"With the continued worldwide concerns associated with coronavirus, the zoo is closely following the very latest Government and World Health Organisation (WHO) advice. As a world-class organisation we are, of course, taking every precaution for both staff and animals under our care.

"Our expert teams have always had a strict set of biosecurity measures in place given that we’re home to so many rare and precious species. Our conservationists will continue to ensure that the animals enjoy the exact same levels of care and attention they receive all year round.

"Staff with underlying health conditions as well as those who are pregnant or over the age of 70 have been asked to stay home for the foreseeable future and take preventative measures as recommended by the Government and WHO."

Among its frequently asked questions, the zoo added all its events scheduled until the end of May will not take place.

Zoo members will receive a month's free membership, with that being potentially extended depending on how the pandemic takes effect.

Those with booked tickets can exchange those for open-dated tickets, which can be used any time this year once the zoo reopens.

For more information on how people can support Chester Zoo during this time, visit