A politician has praised the conservation work of Colchester Zoo after meeting some of its residents during a behind-the-scenes tour.

Priti Patel, MP for Witham, visited the Maldon Road facility, which falls within her constituency, last Thursday.

She was given a all access tour of the popular attraction and spoke to director Dominique Tropeano about the zoo's plans for the future.

Ms Patel said: "The Zoo is well known for its ground breaking enclosures and its animal welfare and conservation work.

"Their conservation work is actively supporting a number of different organisations around the world, and the dedication of all involved in the breeding programmes to protect endangered species is exciting.

“I was impressed by the education centre and learning resources covering zoo related engineering, science and activities focused on biology and other animal based topics."

The Conservative politician was given insider access and spent the day with some of the keepers who look after the zoo's 260 species.

Mr Tropeano said: "It was a pleasure to welcome Priti Patel to Colchester Zoo to discuss tourism and the effects of the current economy.

"We were pleased to be able to share an update on how we are working towards our mission to further the understanding and respect for animals and assisting conservation.

"Here at the zoo we are continuously developing with both the animals and visitors in mind, it was great to be able to give Priti an insight into our upcoming projects and visions for the future of Colchester Zoo.”