A POPULAR wildlife sanctuary has completed the first stage of its £500,000 transformation into a ‘premium attraction’ catering for an ever increasing visitor base.
The Parrot Zoo in Friskney has unveiled a new education centre, cafe, shop and sheltered seating as part of its progression to become an all-year-round international research centre, creating at least five new jobs.
Owner Steve Nichols said: “Our intention is to become a real jewel for Lincolnshire - the general idea is to become the largest animal centre in the county but also a premium tourist attraction.
“It’s a massive expense and a huge investment but it will all be worth it in the end. We have many supporters from around he country who all visit us on a regular basis and deserve nothing less than this.
“It also gives them a feel of he quality Lincolnshire attractions can offer, encouraging them to go on further to Skegness or in towards Lincoln, so hopefully the entire county will benefit.”
Subsequent stages of the development due for completion next year will create large walk-through areas and innovative enclosures to give visitors a new insight into how animals live.
A planned study of parrot behaviour by animal experts at Lincoln University is also hoped to establish the sanctuary as an international research centre in the future.
Visitor numbers have increased by nearly a third over each of the preceding two years with a staggering 50,000 estimated to have enjoyed the sanctuary’s fascinating displays in 2011.
Currently the centre only opens during the tourist season but it is hoped the research prospects and indoor developments will enable it to flourish as a year-round attraction, creating permanent jobs and expanding the local visitor economy.
The sanctuary, set up in 1994, is the largest of its kind in the world, housing just under 2,000 parrots as well as a growing array of other exotic animals which have been the victim of the pet trade such as lemurs, meerkats, giant tortoises and many more.
As a registered charity it has attracted numerous famous patrons including illusionist Derren Brown and entrepreneur Ivan Massow.