David Laing, the millionaire architect of the Laing construction family, said yesterday his scheme to save the zoo will now centre on a giant walk-through aquarium, favoured by Sir David Attenborough, the documentary film-maker and fellow of the Zoological Society of London, the zoo's parent body.
Mr Laing's pounds 60m plan for the zoo is one of three being considered by the society, which announced it was not going to close the zoo as planned this month.
Mr Laing said that the idea of building a 'theatrical' tropical rainforest where gorillas and other animals would act as props had been 'taken off the agenda'.
The plan was criticised because the animals would have had to live alongside plastic trees. 'We are concerned about putting animals in a totally false environment. We'd prefer to get it right,' Mr Laing said.