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Laing O'Rourke to transform Chester Zoo enclosure

Laing O'Rourke has been handed the ambitious task of transforming a currently unoccupied area of the Chester Zoo estate into a haven for animals from south-east Asia.

The international development company has been awarded the daunting contract for the creation of a replica of Asia's south-east islands, a new attraction which aims to open to the public by 2015.

A new Indonesian jungle house - set to be the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK once completed - will be home to Sumatran orangutans, Sulawesi macaques and a new species for the zoo, the sunda gavial crocodile.

It is expected to be such a large new attraction that visitors will take up to two hours to do a complete tour, with the facilities including an 'exotic boat adventure', exhibits highlighting the different creatures housed in the area and also a series of bridges for visitors to traverse.

Simon Mann, Chester Zoo's development director, said: "We're bringing these islands to life, right here in the heart of leafy Cheshire and making the opportunity to visit these far-flung places a reality for many people.

"Finding a company who can understand our ethos and work confidently with us through the build process was vital."

Tom Higgins, head of Laing O'Rourke's northern business, added the developer is delighted to be working on such a prestigious project and will bring all of its design and engineering expertise to making the new attraction as life-like and impressive as possible.

Home to more than 11,000 animals and covering 110 acres of zoological gardens, Chester Zoo attracts upwards of 1.4 million visitors each year and prides itself on having one of the most ambitious and successful conservation operations in the UK.

Open all year round - except Christmas Day and Boxing Day - the facility was founded in 1930 and is now not only the UK's most popular zoo, but is ranked among the 15 most popular in the world. 

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