Trilobite, DZG’s exciting new education and conference centre, is on the move!
The state-of-the art building, which will incorporate a centre for zoology, geology and cross-age education with a link to limestone caverns beneath the zoo, will now be built on the site of an existing maintenance block which offers direct access for school and coach parties to the zoo from the newly-opened car park and entrance.
The decision to relocate the centre, originally planned for the Hippodrome / Gala Bingo Castle Hill site, is reinforced by staff and customer feedback and visitor surveys since the new entrance opened in Easter.
DZG Head of Media and Communications, Jill Hitchman, said: “We were led to believe the Hippodrome site would become available at a time suitable to the zoo’s ongoing development plans, and obviously seized the opportunity to provide a home for our much-needed education and conference centre.
“However, the opening of DZG’s new entrance and car park has shifted the physical focus of the site and since our Easter launch we have invested in extensive surveys of schools and independent groups and their views are constant they want to remain on site for the whole visitor experience and have quick and easy access directly from the car park to a more appropriate site within the zoological grounds.”
She added: “With an ever-growing demand for education, and a solid year-on-year growth we have seen 15,000 school visits in the past year and pre-bookings for 14/15 are already high we have an immediate need for the new centre and the on-site area at the lower level provides us with just that, while a conferencing centre will allow us to expand the business further.”
DZG is working with Trilobite’s architects to adapt the current layout to better suit the new site, made available by the merger of Maintenance and Stores departments, subject to usual planning requirements. Costs have not been finalised, and support from a number of sources, including ERDF and LEP, alongside DZG’s own funding, is being explored.
The centre will showcase Castle Hills unique history as part of a prehistoric seabed, educating visitors about the trilobite, also known as the Dudley Bug, while linking to DZGs animals and conservation work, and explaining how limestone and coal are key minerals to the regions industrial heritage.
Jill added: “Not only will Trilobite expand and improve our education facilities to meet growing demands placed upon DZG, it will also support our new castle experience which is due to open for Easter 2015.
“The new siting allows direct access to the caverns beneath the zoo, thus eliminating the need for underground linking tunnels necessary with the Castle Hill plan, which will obviously be reflected in the budget.
The plans also herald a partnership with Dudley College.
Jill said:? Working with Dudley College Trilobite will provide a centre of excellence for training in subjects related to visitor attractions, such as customer services, catering, retail, event management, travel and tourism, all linked to the attraction industry and be