Festive lanterns welcome visitors to Chester Zoo

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By Megan Russell

During the festive period, Chester Zoo staged a magical event for visitors of all ages. For the fifth year in a row, the much loved lanterns illuminated the zoo, capturing the hearts and curiosity of all the families who visited.

Life sized animal lanterns came to life over the winter nights, as the zoo welcomed visitors to explore its grounds in a new light. Interactive activities allowed children and adults to fully appreciate the world’s incredible creatures as well as those native to the UK.

Created by The Lantern Company, these wonderful displays were for audiences of all ages. With contemporary actors dancing like the animals themselves, it almost felt as though you were face to face with some of the world’s most powerful animals.

Children were encouraged to take hold of the lanterns and light up the walkways as they eagerly moved from one cluster to the next. The zoo was an array of multi-coloured lights incorporating the fun of Christmas with visits from Santa’s magical elves, and from the big man himself, it really was the perfect place to visit over the holidays.

If the cold got a little too much, families were encouraged to snuggle up by the open fires and indulge themselves in the food and drink available within the festive tepees. The smell of mulled wine enhanced the Christmas feel and warmed the noses of those passing.

Mother of two, Kate Austin said of the event, “Being a parent, it feels as though I’ve exhausted every option when it comes to festive family activities. My son and daughter get bored of doing the same thing every year, but a friend told me about the lanterns at Chester Zoo. It was entirely different to what we normally do and, more importantly, the kids loved it.”

She added, “I was impressed with the scale of the lanterns; some of the animals were extremely large. The children loved interacting with the animals, such as the giraffe and spider, which had people inside them moving around. It was relatively cheap and kept my children entertained for hours. Afterwards we sat down for some food and hot drinks in the beautifully designed teepee restaurant area and warmed ourselves up by the fire. Overall, it was a great experience and I will definitely be returning in the future.”

The lanterns help fund Chester Zoo over the winter. Shorter days and colder nights mean a drop in visitor numbers and the team has to come up with new and imaginative ways to keep the zoo thriving over the winter. Ticket sales go towards the funding of the zoo and its charity work that helps the world’s wonderful creatures.

At the lantern event, zoo staff encouraged all visitors to come back over the coming months, urging them to meet the recent new arrivals. Still to be named, a rare Rothschild giraffe was born on Boxing Day, a hopeful sign for an endangered species whose numbers have sadly fallen below 1600 due to loss of habitat and poaching.

For more information about the new baby and others recently born at Chester Zoo, visit the zoo website.




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