A brief report of some ongoing zoo developments. Work is under way on converting the California sea lion pool for giant otters. The pools have been drained and cleaned, but neither had yet been filled for a deep digging area as we were speculating. The former sea lion house is being developed and larger retaining walls being built between the pools and beach. There was once a pathway along this side of the pool, and now that some of the bushes have been cleared there is more land area than one would think. Around the zoo, all the signs still point to the "Sealions" [sic] and I did hear a few people express some disappointment when arriving at the pool. There were ongoing earthworks at the site of the old otter/coati enclosure next to the Oakfield. The hedge and fence that was at the back of the enclosure has been removed and the area opened up to the Oakfield lawn. The signs say "Oakfield Development" but I've still no idea what it's going to be, although it looks a lot like another lawn given the strips of turf being laid. This area is soon to become home to domestic farm animals as part of the "Cheshire Experience" so I can't imagine anything other than temporary structures here. And speaking of lawn, the area behind the Fountain Shop looks to be complete. The enclosure that has been occupied by anteaters, capybara, penguins, porcupines (to name a few) and was once the children's zoo, is bedding in well. It looks like there'll be more grass where the bird house once was, in an avenue between the bushes. The area where the last set of circular aviaries stood now matches the other, it's bark and bushes. The Otter Fountain has been cleaned and small trees dotted randomly around the Fountain Lawn. The few beds have been planted with a smattering of exotic trees and look incredibly bare. The whole area is totally lacking in imagination and has no educational or aesthetic value whatsoever. In fact, I think it actually looked better as bare lawn (strike me down). It suddenly hit me that this is now a huge area of the zoo with only a few animal enclosures. I can think of many zoos that would give their right arms to have so much space to waste. In the same area, Marmot Mania is now Mongoose Mania and the conversion is complete, it's just awaiting the mongooses. Essentially it's the same, except for enrichment and sand substrate rather than grass. The buildings on the south side that were between it and the stable block have gone, and there's a large tarmac area instead. Asha was outside and looked to have settled down, the pacing and calling had subsided. I didn't have time to spend in the West Zoo, except for the Tsavo National Park Bird Safari, which looked beautiful in the sun and in late afternoon was really quiet. Lots of birds on show, some of which walked over my feet. I can make a brief video of this if anyone is interested. Oh, and the hammerkopf is still building that massive nest. PS. More photos going in the Chester Zoo gallery.