Chester Zoo has teamed up with Signs Express Chester to deliver a first-class environmental wayfinding and signage solution.


Chester Zoo, which is the most visited zoo in the UK, as well as a conservation and education charity committed to preventing extinction, is home to 27,000 animals across 125 acres of zoological gardens and boasts a whopping 1.9 million visitors each year. And with that kind of footfall, wayfinding and signage plays a critical role in the smooth running of the zoo and visitor satisfaction.


“We began partnering with Chester Zoo in 2013,” says Signs Express Chester’s production manager, Tom Lloyd. “It started off as one banner and has grown from there, with Signs Express now their largest signage supplier. We cover everything from educational print by the habitats, to catering signage, wayfinding and cosmetic print to improve the overall appearance of areas of the zoo, including inside some of the habitats.”


Tom Lloyd - production manager at Signs Express Chester on site at Chester Zoo.


A key material that has been used throughout the zoo is the Endutex manufactured Terra Banner, distributed across the UK by Soyang Europe. In 2018, Chester Zoo signed up to become part of a plastic reduction scheme which had a big impact on the way they wanted to move forward with their print requirement.


“As a conservation education charity, we’re always looking for new ways to reduce our footprint on the planet by ensuring the zoo is as sustainable as possible,” comments Fred Howat, senior exhibitions and interpretation officer at Chester Zoo. “This includes the signage, exhibition and marketing material we provide for our visitors across site. We’d been using PVC banners for some time as they were long-lived and also met our budget requirements, however environmentally they didn’t meet our needs, so we began searching for a recyclable option.”


“Through some searches and previous contact with Soyang Europe, we discovered the Terra Banner product, which aligned well with our requirements,” continues Howat. “Our close working relationship with Signs Express Chester allowed us to request they order some in for us to test. For us, those initial test banners proved a hit both in price and durability. They’re lightweight, have great colour and clarity and are simple to install. They’ve since become our standard product for any banner requirements we have around the zoo, with PVC-based signage being gradually phased out.”


Terra Banner signage is widely used throughout Chester Zoo.


Terra Banner is a PVC-free, 220gsm polyester banner with a special resin coating, providing excellent whiteness and colourimetry. “We adopted Terra Banner at the request of Chester Zoo, but it’s fast become a go-to product for us here at Signs Express Chester,” continues Lloyd. “Not only does it have the eco benefits needed for Chester Zoo’s ongoing environmental commitment, but it’s a sign-maker's dream, being easy to print and finish and simple to install. Cutting, fitting and manipulating Terra Banner is very straightforward and it holds its colour brilliantly, even outdoors, which is where much of the print we provide for the zoo is situated.”


As any printer will know, durability is one of the biggest concerns when producing print for outdoor environments, especially where signage is likely to be touched a lot by the public. 


“I can’t fault the Terra Banner for durability. Its longevity in the outdoor environment has exceeded anything else we’ve used,” maintains Lloyd. “We not only use it for signage, but it is even used as a print substrate for the games the rangers use when they work with young people to educate them about the importance of animal conservation. Its tenacity makes it an option for many out of the box applications.”