Edinburgh Zoo will next week commence a programme of redevelopments designed to bring the animal experience into all areas of the Zoo.
The improvements will add a new and improved world class visitor entrance and a destination retail offer. In addition a newly appointed external catering contractor, Compass Group, will undertake an extensive refurbishment of the Zoo’s catering facilities.
The new development planned for the Zoo’s entrance will rejuvenate and enhance the experience of Edinburgh Zoo, creating a contemporary, visitor focused and engaging gateway to the wild beyond. The development will see the internal layout change, with the visitor entrance doors moving closer to the car parking facilities and the retail outlet transferring to the current location of the old gallery and part of the old reception area.
The ‘wild beyond’ will feature heavily in the new design, with an overhead contemporary interpretation of a jungle canopy and a gigantic budongo tree with outstretched branches. Engaging and interactive displays will enhance the visitor experience - with monitors streaming live animal cams, continuous wording story boards and visuals all working to bring the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) conservation work to life, such as animal images projecting onto the floor and appearing on door sized light boxes.
Well defined traffic routes and fast flow systems will be a key focus, with custom built manned ticket pods greeting visitors as they enter the experience, as well as a large separate information and fast track desk for pre-paid tickets and groups. All designed and manufactured using sustainable Scottish materials from Scottish suppliers, veneer wood, natural granite and glass feature heavily in new designs.
A new destination retail outlet with a much broader offering, that includes a large display aquarium, will be divided into zones that cater for under five’s, older children, gifts, ecological and Fairtrade products, and apparel.
With regard to the Zoo’s catering facilities, a leading catering contractor, Compass Group, has been appointed to provide all catering facilities at Edinburgh Zoo. Compass will finance and undertake a number of catering developments at the Zoo, to provide a broader and more contemporary service offering, as well as helping to increase revenue. Compass Group will also be internal caterers for the society and will handle weddings and other functions.
Stripes and the Jungle Cafe will both undergo extensive contemporary refurbishments, commencing immediately with a revamp of Stripes and then the Jungle Cafe after the Easter holidays. Stripes, which will be rebranded as Grasslands, will feature increased internal and external seating, improved quality, range, and customer flow.
Gary Wilson, Interim Chief Operating Officer for the RZSS, comments:
“Our redevelopments have been designed to bring the animal experience into all areas of the Zoo. With this investment from the Society and from Compass Group, our improvements will further enhance our status as a world class visitor attraction."
“We expect minimal inconvenience to our visitors, with the majority of the redevelopments planned to take place over a 12 week period. Temporary entrances and exits will be in place from Tuesday 15th February and in the interim there will be two temporary ticket offices in place, both at the Zoo’s vehicle gate and also at the top of the main entrance to the car park. Temporary signage to advise visitors of these changes will be displayed clearly round the Zoo. The Zoo Gift Shop will be housed in the Budongo Trail during the redevelopment work.”
James Stewart, Head of Finance at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, adds:
“The RZSS has invested a total of £760K into these redevelopments. The funds allocated to these improvements will absolutely not take money away from redevelopments planned in relation to the animal side of Edinburgh Zoo, many of which are already in place and underway.”
Gary Wilson continues:
“Running separately to these redevelopments are improvements being carried out within the animal areas. We have agreed a separate investment plan with The Zoo Licensing Board inspectors and are already implementing further changes on the animal side over the course of this year and next."