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Belfast Zoo declared an area of special scientific interest due to 75-million-year-old rocks

By Sara Neill

Published 10/06/2015

Belfast Zoo
Belfast Zoo
Visitors to Belfast Zoo yesterday marvel at the Game Of Thrones-themed animatronic dragon
Visitors to Belfast Zoo yesterday marvel at the Game Of Thrones-themed animatronic dragon

Belfast Zoo has been declared an area of special scientific interest - but not for its new fire-breathing exhibit.

While visitors may have been surprised by its latest addition - an animatronic dragon from Game Of Thrones - scientists have made a few other unexpected finds around Bellevue.

It is thought that 75-million-year old rocks in the cliff next to the main car park could hold clues to how Belfast's distinctive landscape was formed.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency is especially interested in a layer of clay that has been exposed between white limestone bedrock, and the upper laval layers which form the Antrim plateau.

Belfast City Council, which owns the zoo site, will now not be able to make any changes that would damage the geologically significant features.

However, most of the protected area is cliff face and a line of disused quarries, and is not normally used anyway.

Meanwhile, zookeepers have been urged to look after their newest delivery, a young dragon from Game Of Thrones.

The animatronic creature, with a 10ft wingspan, is in a special enclosure and has already attracted visitors' attention.

Sheltered by netting and surrounded by wooden construction, animal spotters peered at the red and black dragon through thick glass.

It is the grand finale of Tourism Ireland's campaign with HBO to share unique sights on social media and showcase Northern Ireland across the globe.

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