CHESTER ZOO is the second most popular paid-for tourist attraction in the UK, according to figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.
Last year the zoo welcomed 1.4m people and was second only to the Tower of London.
Chester Zoo is also the 15th most popular visitor destination in the UK when free attractions are included.
It is home to more than 11,000 animals across 400-plus different species and an influx of new animals help drive visitor numbers last year.
This year it is to start work on its £30m Islands experience. An unoccupied part of its estate will be transformed into the islands of the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi.
Chester Zoo director general, Dr Mark Pilgrim, said: “For the second year running we have stolen a march on attractions outside of the capital – every year we bring something new for the visitors to give them the very best day out.
“We had a host of new arrivals last year with our breeding successes including elephant and rhino calves, giant otter pups, orangutans and other species, all of which have been important for conservation but also a big draw for visitors.
“The zoo is constantly evolving and we were the first to bring robotic dinosaurs to a UK zoo.
“This year we’ll be notching up another first with 13 fantastic animatronic bugs. Exhibitions like this are a great platform to educate visitors about some really important species but also provide extra touches to an already great day out.”