DUDLEY Zoo and Castle has achieved its biggest visitor numbers in over three decades, with more than 300,000 visiting the attraction last year.

311,303 people flocked to the popular Castle Hill attraction in 2019, it has been revealed.

This was a 5% increase on the number of visitors who passed through the turnstiles in 2018, when 296,910 paid a visit to the zoo.

Bosses at the attraction have cited the relaunched Lemur Wood and the arrival of new species including a Linne’s two-toed sloth, Arctic foxes and leaf-cutter ants for boosting visitor numbers.

A record number of people, nearly 28,000, visited the site during February half term alone.

Derek Grove, zoo director, said: "It was an incredible year and we haven’t seen these figures for over 30 years.

“An unprecedented February half term, which saw us welcome 27,960 visitors, our best on record, helped boost the total, but we’ve also continued to improve and extend animal enclosures and bringing in brand new species to the collection has caused much excitement on site, especially Reggie the sloth, who quickly became our most adopted animal.

“We’d like to say a big thank you for the fantastic support we’ve seen and hope visitors will join us this year as we mark the 950th anniversary of Dudley Castle and continue our investment in the 40-acre site, including starting work on a new outdoor enclosure for our critically endangered Bornean orangutans and bringing European Brown Bears back to the collection.”

The record number comes as the zoo undergoes a rebranding to celebrate the 950th anniversary of Dudley Castle, which has seen the attraction return to its previous name of Dudley Zoo and Castle in a nod to its past.