Chester Zoo in United Kingdom

Chester Zoo
Photo © Eveline De Wolf, Chester Zoo.
Photo © Eveline De Wolf, Chester Zoo.


Owner -: Muriel Mottershead
1930-1934: George Mottershead
1934-now: North of England Zoological Society
Size51 hectares (130 acres)
First elephant arrived1941
Opened for public1931
Address Oakfield Estate, Caughall Road, Upton by Chester
Zip-code CH2 1LH
Place Chester
Country United Kingdom
Website Website


Key People: Nick Ellerton (zookeeper)
2016-now: Hanspeter Steinmetz (consultant)


Elephant department

Head keepers
of elephants
: Neil Spooner
(elephant head-keeper)
-: Mick Jones
(elephant head-keeper)
-: Les Hills
(elephant head-keeper)
-: Richard Frazer
(elephant head-keeper)
-: Muriel Mottershead
(elephant head-keeper)
-: Les Hill
(elephant head-keeper)
2008-2012: Eveline Wolf
(elephant head-keeper)
2018-now: Rich Frazer
(elephant head-keeper)

Elephant keepers -: Gavin Bourchier
-: Donald Plant
1998-2001: Richard Hughes
2008-2018: Rich Frazer
2018-now: Lizzy Emmerson
Record history
History of updates2023-12-17

Latest document update2023-12-17 09:18:04
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Chester Zoo, located at Oakfield Estate, Caughall Road, Upton by Chester, in Chester, United Kingdom , was founded in 1930, opened for public in 1931 and the first elephant arrived in 1941.

Living elephants

At the Chester Zoo lives 6 elephants with records in this database: (detail list)
  1. Anjan Hi Way born 2018-05-17
  2. Aung Bo born 2001-07-16
  3. Indali Hi Way born 2016-12-17
  4. Maya born 1966
  5. Riva Hi Way born 2020-02-26
  6. Sundara born 2004-03-07

Comments / picturesAfter apparently being inspired following a trip to Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester when he was a boy, George Mottershead collected animals for several years before opening Chester Zoo in 1931. As seen in the photos below, his family and animals helped him to turn the zoo into a spectacle for many families to enjoy.

Chester Zoo has since gone on to become one of the North West\'s most popular attractions. The zoo has been the topic of a few television shows over the years, including the Granada documentary series Zoo Days in 2007 and the BBC drama Our Zoo in 2014 which told the Mottershead family\'s story.

1930: The Mottershead family bought Oakfield Estate in Upton by Chester, and after they were granted permission by the the Ministry of Health, opened the zoo next year, accepting its first pair of elephants from a circus in 1941.

1960: The almost completion of the Pachyderm House, which was ready to accommodate elephants, rhinos and hippopotamus.

1964: In the sixties the Zoo suffered an outbreak of Anthrax, which also killed two elephants.

Chester Zoo in United Kingdom United+KingdomElephant keeper Les Hill, September, 1977.

2001: Richard Hughes, 34, suffered damage in February when he was butted and thrown against a fence by four- tonne female Asian elephant, Kumara. The heavily-bleeding keeper was treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital, where he lost consciousness.
Mr Hughes, who sustained a fractured Skull and shoulder injuries, died 11 days after the attack.

2004: Chester Zoo was fined £25,000 yesterday after it admitted breaching health and safety regulations when an elephant lashed a keeper with its Trunk and crushed him to death against a wall three years ago.

Irene Hughes, the mother of the elephant keeper, Richard Hughes, said she was "very pleased" at the result. "As far as we are concerned they have held their hands up. We are just sorry it took Richard\'s death for them to realise their failings."

The zoo admitted not carrying out the proper risk assessments, but its director, Gordon Reid, promised that staff had "learned lessons" and the zoo would survive. It also has to pay £50,000 in court costs.

The Guardian

Chester Zoo in United Kingdom United+Kingdom
Chester elephants enjoying their evening meal in the stables, March 2008. Photo © Audrey Mealiff

References for records about Chester Zoo

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2024). Chester Zoo, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

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