Chester Zoo brings the animals to you with a virtual zoo day

Chester Zoo is closed during the coronavirus pandemic. But you can still get your fix of favourite animals, without even needing to leave the house.

Today, the most visited zoo in the UK is hosting a virtual zoo day, which means you can join them on Facebook Live from 10am when they’ll be throwing open their gates for a full day of animal action.

Keepers will be taking you up close and personal with the animals throughout the day.

It starts at 10am with the red pandas. You’d normally find these tree-dwelling, bamboo-eating little mammals in the forests of China, the Himalayas and Nepal.


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Much like domestic cats, they usually spend time after waking up cleaning their fur followed by territorial marking and feeding. They tend to be quiet animals, says the zoo, and only communicate when they must, via twittering and some whistling.

Then at 11am it’s time to meet the giraffes.

Rothschild’s giraffes are one of the world’s most at-risk mammals with fewer than 2,650 remaining. They take their name from the founder of the Tring Museum, Lionel Walter, the 2nd Baron Rothschild.

They’re taller than other species, growing up to 6m tall. And their tongues can measure up to 45cm long, which helps them pull down leaves, shoots, bark and flowers off tree branches to eat.

They usually live in the open woodlands, savannahs and grasslands of Uganda and Kenya where they live in small herds, with males and females only mixing for mating.

It takes up to sixteen months for a baby giraffe to gestate, and last year the zoo saw two babies born – a male and a female, named Mburo and Karamoja.

At midday, you can see the Asian elephants. We’re told they need to eat a lot, and can spend two thirds of a day feeding. We know how they feel. And since it’s lunchtime, you can join them.

Their new baby girl, born just four weeks ago, is sure to be the star attraction. Even her name, Riva Hi Way, means ‘star’.


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In the afternoon you can look at the butterflies at 1pm, followed by sun bears at 2pm. The smallest of the eight species of bear, they’re also known as the ‘honey bear’ due to their love of honey.

Then at 2.30pm, it’s time to come face to face with the Sumatran tigers.

These endangered carnivorous predators have webbed paws, which means that they’re brilliant swimmers and they often take to the water to cool off.


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Then at 2.45pm you can pop over to the penguins.

Humboldt penguins are social animals, and in the wild they live in large colonies along the coast of Chile and Peru. They spend 75% of their time in the water, and can swim up to 25mph.

Finish the day at 4pm at the aquarium, where you can explore underwater habitats without stepping foot in the sea and discover a watery world home to seahorses, brittle stars, blind fish, pipefish, anemone and clownfish.

It’s possible the running order might be subject to some slight changes, and zoo staff promise there’ll be more surprises throughout the day.

Join them from 10am on Facebook Live to join the virtual tour.

Timetable, Friday 27th March:

10am: Red pandas 

11am: Rothschild’s giraffes 

12pm: Asian elephants 

1pm: Butterflies 

2pm: Sun bears

2.30pm: Sumatran tigers 

3pm: Humboldt penguins 

4pm: Aquarium



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