Dudley Zoo director outlines vision as new education and visitor centre plans submitted

The director of Dudley Zoo has outlined his vision for the future which the new planned visitor and education centre is a pivotal part.

How the new building will look in Dudley Zoo
How the new building will look in Dudley Zoo

The zoo has submitted a planning application with Dudley Council for permission to demolish some outbuildings to build a two storey 1,100 square metre new centre.

Zoo director Derek Grove believes the new centre will radically improve the tourist attraction's ability to educate local children about wildlife.

He said: “We currently welcome an average of 18,000 learners a year on site and it has been a long-time aspiration to expand our education facilities at the zoo with the aim to increase the number of students who can go through our education and conservation programme to approximately 50,000.

"The submission of these exciting plans for a new education and visitor centre is one step towards achieving our aspiration of creating an immersive education experience in a state-of-the-art building."

The new visitor and education centre will have formal and informal teaching and learning spaces including a lecture theatre, seminar and tutorial rooms and an educational laboratory complemented by hospitality and breakout spaces.

The new building will also include an exhibition area, space for the storage of artifacts and educational objects and for a library.

New offices and staff accommodation included in the plans including an external education zone with a bridge link to the zoo to provide easy access to the wider zoo grounds.

Architects Launchpadd have drawn inspiration from the Tecton buildings at the zoo, which were built between 1936 and 1937, and are the best collection of surviving Tectons in the world.

The architects said in the planning application: "By relocating the existing Discovery Centre, enable the restoration of the Tecton structures namely the Moat Café and The Queen Mary Centre."

The plans also will allow for the reinstatement of the Stores Cavern Mine tunnel which will provide access to the mine from outside the zoo offering educational benefits which will compliment the emerging Black Country Geopark trail.

The tunnel will also "compliment the wet limestone tunnels and coal mine experience of neighbouring attractions."

The new building will also have wildflowers and grass on its side of the with accompanying flowering Whitebeam trees.

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