MARWELL Zoo is set to undertake its biggest-ever revamp with a £2.8m scheme to show off its iconic animals.

The scheme due to open in summer 2015 will see the old building swept away for a new enclosure to better show the zoo’s rhinos, antelopes and zebras.

It will be five times bigger than any current exhibit at the zoo near Winchester.

James Cretney, chief executive, said: “Wild Explorers is an exciting key component of our Spatial Plan. It will provide modern housing for three iconic conservation species, Scimitar-horned oryx, white rhino and zebras, symbolically located at the heart of the zoo and representing long-term commitments to our work in north, east and southern Africa.

“Displaying large grazing animals is a particular challenge because they are often seen at distance in their large open paddocks, however, this development and the interpretation are designed with these constraints in mind and provide more opportunities for the guests to become immersed in the animals’ environment.”

The new display will focus on three species that the zoo has been instrumental in helping to preserve since in opened in the 1970s.

It will feature raised boardwalks made from recycled bleached tree trunks and viewing platforms. Visitors will follow a path journeying to see the different species.

There will be a muddy wallowing hole, recreating water sources on the African plains.

The existing zebra stables will be partially retained for new toilets.

Mr Cretney said the aim of the new exhibit was to “conjure a sense of adventure as we reveal how we live, travel, find and observe these incredible species in the African wilderness. Activities are aimed at our core audiences of families with young children, and school groups, so will provide a fun, educational and exciting exhibit for all.”