We have enjoyed welcoming members, supporters and lots of brand-new visitors to the zoo since reopening to the public again at the end of April and we are delighted that summer visitor numbers are the highest they have been in over 20 years.
Staff worked hard to provide a safe environment for a great family day out by putting into place a range of health and safety measures including a one-way system and social distancing signage, hand sanitiser stations, and protective screens at all public contact points.
It’s not just the increase in visitor numbers that has kept us busy this year though, there has also been a bit of a baby boom with several new arrivals including a critically endangered baby bongo, critically endangered cotton top tamarin twins, an endangered Rothschild’s giraffe calf as well as an incredibly rare Francois’ langur monkey.
Zoo Manager, Alyn Cairns, explains, “Conservation is at the heart of what we do here at Belfast Zoo. All animal births are something to celebrate but when it is an endangered species it is that extra bit significant as with each new arrival, fresh hope is brought to the species as a whole.”
We also made the most of lockdown earlier in the year by making some accessibility improvements. We reopened to the public with a brand new Changing Places toilet facility as well as improved disabled parking bays. The Changing Places facility is a specialist accessible toilet with changing facilities, providing people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, their carers, assistants and families the confidence to enjoy a day out at Belfast Zoo.
Earlier in the year we also completed a major refurbishment of our sea lion pool. Fresh water was changed to saline water and an upgraded water treatment system has improved general water quality in the pool. Visitors have enjoyed being able to view our three sealions, Sammy, Stella and Ariele, sweep past at the newly reopened underwater viewing window.
We hope that everyone has enjoyed visiting the zoo this summer and will come back again later in the year!