CHESTER ZOO has been named the UK’s most visited attraction outside London.

According to data from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions the UK as a whole saw a 7.2% increase in visitor numbers.

At Chester Zoo, nearly 2 million people visited last year seeing a 12% increase from 2015.

Chief operating officer at the Zoo Jamie Christon said: “Almost 1.9 million people visited us last year and every one of them played a key part in helping us protect endangered animals around the globe.

“We can’t thank them enough.

"Visitors now are looking for more than just a day out. When people come to the zoo, not only do they have a great time but they are also making a difference and discovering how all of us, as individuals, can act for wildlife. We think this is key to our success.

“We have invested more than £10m to improve all aspects of the zoo for visitors – and there are plenty more new experiences coming in 2017.

"We’re launching our new ‘PLAY! Zone’, which will encourage visitors of all ages to explore their inner child.

“Then, this summer, a new South East Asian Islands expedition will allow visitors to explore spectacular new habitats for endangered sun bears, binturong, Malayan tapir and a stunning walk-through aviary for endangered songbirds that will mirror the conservation work we’re doing overseas.

“We will continue to deliver a world class day out for visitors which will enable us to provide the vital conservation of endangered species globally.”