BLACKPOOL Zoo has enjoyed an incredible 2017 — from babies to birthdays and big builds.

The visitor attraction, just a 40 minute drive from Blackburn, has shared some fantastic photographs to celebrate the epic year.

In January, the award-winning attraction announced a year-long programme to mark its 45th anniversary. First up was a birthday party for a 35 stone centenarian, also known as Darwin the Aldabran tortoise.

He was one of the first animals to arrive at Blackpool Zoo and, although there are no detailed records of his history, keepers believe this year would be his 100th birthday.

In spring, there was a triple celebration when the UK’s only father and son coalition of lions celebrated their 9th and 2nd birthdays in the same month, marking a decade since the grand opening of the revamped Pride of Blackpool Big Cat House.

In July, TV favourite Alan Titchmarsh and his trusty team from ITV’s Love Your Garden descended on the zoo. The horticultural heroes transformed a piece of grassland outside the keepers brew room into a magical hideaway for resident keeper John Paul Houston and his colleagues to spend time in.

August saw the announcement of the birth of the zoo’s first giant anteater. The species is the most threatened in South America and, in some parts of the continent, there has not been a sighting for many years.

Keepers are waiting to confirm if the pup is male or female, but have decided to name him Gorrie after a dear friend and loyal member of the zoo, Lynne Gorrie, who sadly died.

In October, a YouTube sensation arrived in Blackpool. Bornean orangutan Jingga became famous in 2015 after a video of her went viral. Her hilarious reaction to a magic trick has been viewed more than 20 million times.

The seven-year-old female moved from her Spanish home to Blackpool Zoo to live with resident male Ramon as part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

Blackpool Zoo also announced the sex and name of the newest addition to its gorilla troop in October.

It was confirmed that the tiny baby, who was born on September 5, is a boy and he has been named Makari.

The year ended on a massive high with the arrival of a critically-endangered baby pileated gibbon. The adorable little one was born on November 29 to mum, Ivy. Both mum and baby are doing well and can be seen in the Small Primate House.

Darren Webster, managing director of Blackpool Zoo, said: “It‘s been an incredible year of momentous occasions and we are all looking back on a very exciting, and busy, 12 months.

“I would like to thank all my staff for their hard work throughout this memorable year, and thank all our new and returning visitors for their continued support. And don’t forget, as we are only closed on Christmas Day, a visit to the zoo is a great way to walk off all those Christmas chocolates!”