A small, but select and perfectly-formed group of ZooChatters visited Reaseheath on 23rd July. The new Animal Management Centre has opened so I wanted to see the changes, whereas others in the group had never visited before. This brief report focusses mainly on what has changed. The new building is impressive and stands opposite the old management facilities, which I believe are still in use. At the centre of the new building is a quadrangle for students to relax and enjoy the sun, and there are classrooms and study rooms along all four sides. The north and west sides are currently open to the public. The flower beds are clearly out of place and one hopes they'll soon be replaced by bark and bare earth, surely the model all modern zoos must follow. On the north side are two enclosures holding coati in one and meerkats/porcupines in the other. These are the coati that were originally at the Palms Tropical Oasis. They looked to be happier in their new space, but I was disappointed by the enclosures themselves; they have mesh openings to the front but are primarily indoors and none of the animals have access to outdoors. As coati enclosures go, I'd still class it as poor. And for the record, Reaseheath now has two groups of porcupines and three, yes, three groups of meerkats. In the north-west corner of the building is a classroom and a large marine tank (see gallery for photographs of filtration plant). The species planned earlier in the year haven't arrived, but all the huge shark banners have gone. It's largely inhabited by clown fish at the moment, and they have much of the huge space to themselves. A moderate negative is that there are so many windows in this part of the building - including a huge one right opposite - that the reflections on the tank are pretty terrible and clearly an oversight in design. Note that to the left of this photograph is a window onto the meerkat/porcupine enclosure. Those who have visited Reaseheath before will fondly recall the free access to most of the study rooms in the old building. In the new facility, all the study rooms are locked and can only be viewed through large windows (and only on the west side of the building). There are some interesting exhibits in the windows - a chameleon, various frogs, a cane toad and leaf-cutter ants whose rope walkway passes dangerously close to the ceiling and is asking for trouble - but it's really difficult to see what's actually in the rooms. Apparently access will be given, but only on college open days where students and their families get the opportunity to look around. This, from my point-of-view is a step backwards, but probably understandable given the desire to increase visitor numbers. See the gallery here and here for a few photos of the rooms. The corridor exits into a large rabbit room, in which there are various hybrid breeds complete with cuddly names and family-friendly reference materials. A certain member of our group wanted to take one home. Ironically, the rabbits, unlike the coatis, have access to outdoor runs. Outside not a lot has changed in the past year, although the bat-eared fox enclosure has been cleared of its log pile - so they now sit out in the open - and the long-awaited otter enclosure has been finished and is inhabited by a pair of Asian short-clawed. Reaseheath is definitely worth a visit and was well-received by those in our group who had not previous visited, although I still think the Palms coatis deserve a much better enclosure. It's a good place for budding photographers as the public get really close to the animals, and there's a good standard of husbandry. A zoo nerd can spend two or three hours looking at everything although being locked away from most of the tanks and vivaria is a little frustrating - but the £5 per person might not represent good value for families as it's not a large zoo by any means.