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£2.3m zoo attraction for children unveiled

PUBLISHED: 16:36 05 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:54 07 September 2010

Sanchez Manning FREEDOM to roam – especially among wild animals – is a privilege unlikely to be given to children nowadays. But a groundbreaking £2.3million attraction due to open at London Zoo is set to give the nation s little people a rare chance to es

Sanchez Manning

FREEDOM to roam - especially among wild animals - is a privilege unlikely to be given to children nowadays.

But a groundbreaking £2.3million attraction due to open at London Zoo is set to give the nation's little people a rare chance to escape their parents' watchful eyes.

These pictures give the first glimpse of Animal Adventure - a brand new exhibit at the Regent's Park attraction expected to revolutionise the concept of children's zoos.

Gone are the days when youngsters are guided hand-in-hand with their protective guardians to gawp at monkeys and giraffes.

Now they will be given the independence to climb alongside their simian cousins, burrow through underground tunnels and come eyeball-to-eyeball with untamed beasts.

This may sound like risky business but the project's developers assure visitors that all the activities are compliant with government safety guidelines.

The zoo's head of discovery and learning, Malcolm Whitehead, said: "Animal Adventure connects children to animals through magical experiences and imaginative play, helping them develop an understanding and concern for nature.

"Caring for the environment is intrinsic to the nurture and survival of animals.

"By enabling children to empathise with animals and understand the obstacles and advantages of their environments, we hope to foster the beginnings of a lifelong passion for nature and an inkling of the importance of conservation."

Work on the project began in September last year - with children in both Camden and Westminster consulted about the designs.

The construction team is now working round the clock to turn the 6,000 sq ft space into an open-plan animal kingdom for three to 11-year-olds.

It will be split into themed areas, paved with brightly coloured tarmac and surrounded by lush tropical plants.

The entrance leads straight into the Treetop Zone which will be home to coatis - members of the racoon family - and red pandas. Young visitors will be able to view the exotic tree climbers at eye level by clambering up their own set of wooden climbing frames just metres away.

The pint-size adventurers will then have an opportunity to break away from their adult carers in the Root Zone. Leaving their parents on the main path, they can delve into a network of transparent tunnels leading them through the subterranean habitat of aardvarks and mongooses.

They will be reunited with their family in the Encounter Zone where they will be allowed to pet llamas, alpacas, ferrets and even skunks accompanied by their keepers.

A giant splash pool is also being constructed to offer some light relief from the daring escapades and a seven-metre high tepee erected for storytelling sessions.

Animal Adventure is due to launch on April 3 and is expected to host 1,000 visitors per hour once up and running.


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