Zoo's up-close cage opens

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THE largest "interactive" bird cage in Europe has finally opened its doors at Edinburgh Zoo.

Visitors are able to get "up close and personal" with a flock of rainbow lorikeets at the new 325,000 attraction.

The new Rainbow Landings enclosure currently has a collection of just under 40 birds, and zoo bosses hope to have up to 100 within the next year.

Visitors can buy small pots of nectar for 1 to feed the birds and all profits made from the sale will go towards funding the zoo's development masterplan.

Staff at the exhibit say the birds are perfect for such an interactive experience, as they are very inquisitive and also very friendly, and quickly land on the heads and arms of anyone entering the large jungle-themed enclosure.

Sarah Wright, a lead animal presenter at the zoo, said: "It is perfect for people of all ages, and the animals are generally happy to land on people, particularly if they are being fed.

"It is fine for families, although we have a window so that anyone who is unsure about the experience can see what they will be in for before they come inside.

"It is a very exciting attraction and something visitors will hopefully remember for a long time."

The exhibit - expected to become one of the most popular at the zoo - had been due to open earlier this year, but was delayed after the city council held up issuing a building warrant.

It demanded extra work was carried out on disabled access ramps to the enclosure.

That came after relations between the zoo and city chiefs were already strained following the planning committee's decision to oppose the development of green-belt land on the Corstorphine Hill site to help fund the attraction's 72 million development masterplan.

David Windmill, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which owns Edinburgh Zoo, said:

"Rainbow Landings will be a fantastic experience for our visitors as they will be able to get close to these beautiful birds and feed them.

"We started planning this project at the beginning of the year and it has been exciting to watch the exhibit develop."

The zoo plans to have a major public launch next year to coincide with the school holidays, but visitors are already raving about the attraction.

Chris Rowe, 26, of Dunfermline, visited the new exhibit with his sister Katherine, 20, and friend Rebecca Smith, 23, and all three were amazed at the experience.

Chris said: "It's just amazing, to get so close to the animals. People will absolutely love it."

Katherine said: "It's incredible, and I didn't expect them to be so keen to land on you."

• For more information on the enclosure, go to www.edinburghzoo.org.uk

• To learn more about the birds, go to www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Lorikeet

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