Snow Leopard Enclosure, Chester Zoo, UK

The Project
Visitors to Chester Zoo now have the chance to get up close and personal with two rare snow leopards.

The two big cats, Yashin and Nubra, are the first snow leopards to be cared for at the zoo in the conservation charity’s history.

Yashin and Nubra’s habitat, designed to replicate the rocky terrain of the Himalayas, affords the public the chance to observe the highly threatened animals at close range through an immersive viewing experience, central to which is the specification of specialised anti-reflective glazing provided by Pilkington UK, part of the NSG Group.

Animal habitats can provide challenges for designers due to the weight and strength of certain species, and their propensity to occasionally scratch the glass.

Pilkington UK manufactured a bespoke glazing composition to withstand the potential stress loads associated with providing a home to snow leopards and ensure the safety of both the animals and the public.

At 7.5 x 2.5 metres, the two glass viewing screens provide visitors with maximum oversight. Each glass panel is made up of three 10 mm layers of heat strengthened glass, laminated with two 1.52 mm thick PVB interlayers to ensure safety and durability. That way, even in the unlikely event of the glass cracking, the glazed barrier maintains its structural integrity and remains fit for purpose.

To address the common issue of glare and reflection in viewing enclosures, Pilkington UK specified two panes of Pilkington OptiView™ Ultra, an advanced anti-reflective coated glass that reduces light reflections to below 1%, compared to standard float glass with a light reflectance of 8%.

Between these a 10 mm centre pane of Pilkington Optiwhite™ was specified - an extra-clear glass that combines high light transmission and excellent colour clarity - ensuring an enhanced viewing experience for visitors.

Lee Shaw, Technical & Customer Support Manager at Pilkington UK said: “Contributing to a Chester Zoo first has been a really special opportunity for Pilkington UK. Our glazing will help to provide an immersive experience for guests, providing an exceptionally clear view of the new snow leopards that’s undisturbed by reflections whilst maximising light transmittance.

“The glazing also helps Chester Zoo to meet its top priority of keeping its guests and animal residents safe, by providing a secure and robust barrier between the two.”

Cathy Lunn, Facilities and Development Director at Chester Zoo said: “For the first time in our 93-year history we have the privilege of caring for snow leopards, which will help us to further our mission to prevent the extinction of this highly threatened species.

“The glass Pilkington UK has specified enables our guests to clearly view the snow leopards in their habitat, contributing to the immersive and educational experience that we wanted to achieve.”
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Project Details
Surface Area
75 m²
Chester Zoo, Chester. CH2 1LE
Opening Date
21 Mar 2024
Building Type
  • Leisure
  • Museums and Cultural Building
Chester Zoo
About the Architect/Installer
Benefit Led Categories
  • Safety Security
  • Special Applications