Dudley Zoo celebrates best summer for 20 years

Dudley Zoo today celebrated its best summer visitor figures in 20 years, buoyed by the opening of £150,000 worth of new attractions.

Dudley Zoo today celebrated its best summer visitor figures in 20 years, buoyed by the opening of £150,000 worth of new attractions.

The reopening of the iconic chairlift alongside the launch of the new Penguin Bay exhibit boosted numbers through the turnstiles.

Visitor numbers rose 41 per cent during the six-week school holidays from 58,000 in 2011 to 82,000 this year, new figures revealed.

Zoo chief executive Peter Suddock said everyone was “over the moon” with the visitor numbers despite the dreary weather this summer.

The 40-acre site is also home to the ruined 11th century Dudley Castle and celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

Mr Suddock said: “We have to go back more than two decades to match those figures and given the current economic climate we really didn’t expect to see such an increase, but we are truly thrilled.

“It’s our 75th anniversary and this is yet another success to celebrate.”

Visitors flooded into the Castle Hill attraction last month when the chairlift opened to the public for the first time in 12 years following a £117,000 revamp. The three-month project to restore the lift included shot-blasting and painting of the 41 chairs.

Dudley Zoo also has the world’s largest single collection of Modernist Tecton structures.

The £40,000 Penguin Bay attraction opened earlier this year, allowing visitors to get close to 70-plus rare Humboldt penguins.

Zoo keepers also welcomed two highly endangered young female tigers which have proved a hit with visitors.

Mr Suddock added: “I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has supported us throughout the summer.

“We work very hard to ensure we are always in the public eye.

“We listen to our visitors and do our best to fulfill their requests, but above all our aim is to make sure everyone has a great day out at Dudley Zoo.”

Last week, Black Country Living Museum chief executive, Andrew Lovett, revealed that it had suffered a poor summer with visitor numbers down by up to 15 per cent.

Plans for the museum to shed up to 70 jobs will be discussed during a consultation period with staff.