Yorkshire Wildlife Park plans £50 million expansion
An award-winning attraction which has brought tigers, lions and polar bears to the unlikely setting of a Doncaster suburb is planning a £50 million expansion which would bring more than 300 new jobs.
The Yorkshire Wildlife Park has hit the headlines a number of times since it was founded eight years ago, including when it rescued lions from a Romanian zoo and then when one of its polar bears startled shocked migrants in Calais after they opened the doors to his truck during his journey to South Yorkshire.
Now the park says it has secured another 150 acres of land next to its current site which it wants to develop to make the attraction one of the leading tourist destinations in the UK.
It currently employs 300 people and had 761,000 visitors in 2016, contributing £12.2 million to the local economy.
The park said the new plans, if approved, would double the workforce.
The owners said the plans include a visitor hub at a new entrance, which could feature a hotel and supporting visitor facilities including restaurants and shops.
Director Cheryl Williams said: "This could also be a game-changing development for Doncaster.
"Leisure has become a key part of the Doncaster story.
"Our development is located close to Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Doncaster Racecourse and the new proposed PGA Golf course at Rossington.
"This will provide a critical mass of world-class tourist attractions and bring an international audience to Doncaster."
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said "The Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a fantastic success story and a great asset for Doncaster.
"It offers a superb visitor experience, delivers valuable conservation work, and provides hundreds of jobs and a multimillion-pound contribution to our economy.
"I welcome these exciting expansion plans, which are testament to the hard work of everyone at YWP, and I am sure they will see the park go from strength to strength."
The park is home to more than 400 animals from more than 80 species and has developed an international reputation for innovative animal reserves, contribution to conservation and animal welfare.
It said its management team is in pre-application discussions with Doncaster Council and public consultation events will begin later this month.