ALTHOUGH I understand the reasons, it's still sad, I think, that Chester Zoo's celebrated monorail is soon to follow the same route as the Norwegian Blue parrot of Monty Python fame.

Come the end of summer the elevated circular line will arrive at the end of the line itself, and become an 'ex'. Such is progress.

The cause of its imminent demise is partly old age (it's been operating, on and off, since 1991, so is practically a museum piece these days) but mainly because it cannot keep pace with the runaway success of the zoo.

Visitors who are still being assured on the zoo's website that their experience would be incomplete "without a ride on our Zoofari Monorail" are now also being told in the monthly magazine that the same piece of kit "no longer fits our vision for a world-class modern zoo".

I can accept that but that doesn't make it any less tinged with sadness, because like all such things it is a sign, as much as a consequence, of the times, and all signs ultimately point to the exit.

The magazine explained: "[the monorail] has been part of the zoo for nearly three decades, but since its installation the zoo has grown in size and the transportation system now doesn't even cover half of the 125 acres."

It has also been subject to occasional breakdowns or "train and system failures", meaning that "this once state-of-the-art system is proving costly to maintain and unreliable for visitors".

All true no doubt, but it has still been a godsend to people with sore feet and other mobility issues, including young children and the not-so-young, and, of course, those accompanying them.

It was also fun, not brilliant fun, perhaps, but definitely a hit with many kids of a certain age, as it snaked its way through the grounds at little more than walking pace and tree canopy height, facilitating a privileged birds-eye view of some of the more awe-inspiring residents at home in their extensive enclosures.

Over the next three years, the zoo's major new Grasslands attraction is being developed - the grand public opening will be in 2022 - consisting of a large open African savannah habitat, not to mention a restaurant offering spectacular balcony views of the same, and much more besides.

One can easily see how today's monorail will, by tomorrow, appear almost absurdly dated.

The Islands Zone, which opened in 2015, was the first stage in an ongoing process of which Grasslands is the logical next, bringing the zoo's global conservation work vividly to life in a way which will surely cement its already existing status as one of the UK's leading tourist attractions.

But how will small children and other folk who need assistance with covering the steadily increasing distances get to see all this wonderful new stuff?

Well, there are always the 'funny buggies', and I'm sure there will be other perfectly acceptable solutions.

As for fun, the Lazy River boats which meander around South East Asian island are, to my mind, even more memorable and interesting a ride than the monorail.

Maybe not quite such a sad day after all then, when the Zoofari 'passes on'?