Monarto Zoo will add a five-star luxury resort and glamping facilities to its site as part of a $40 million expansion, Zoos SA announced today.

The upgrade will reportedly transform the park – to be rebranded as Monarto Safari Park – into the world’s largest safari experience outside of Africa.

The resort will include hotel rooms; conference, function and restaurant spaces; and eco-glamping facilities. The park will also launch new tours and offerings, including safari experiences with specially designed open-sided vehicles, and a 35,000-square-metre walk-though lemur experience.

It will position the park as “an international tourism drawcard”, said chief executive of Zoos South Australia Elaine Bensted in a press release. “The addition of accommodation and new experiences will also help us generate more funds to support our critical conservation work and continually improve our facilities at both of our sites.”

Australian businessman and private investor Gerry Ryan is behind the expansion. “We’re thrilled to formalise our partnership with Gerry Ryan OAM, which will see him build and operate a state-of-the-art safari resort at Monarto, allowing us to expand our fabulous safari experiences and tourism offering,” said Bensted.

“$40 million in private investment and the construction of a luxury resort and glamping facilities is an exciting coup for Monarto Zoo and the broader tourism industry in the Murraylands.

“Mr Ryan is a highly successful business leader and has extensive experience when it comes to developments in the tourism, hospitality and entertainment sectors.”

Construction will begin in 2020 and is expected to be complete by 2022.