San Diego Zoo's Elephant Odyssey

logo_elephant_odysseyIn May of this year, San Diego Zoo opened it's complex Elephant Odyssey.  Incorporating a plethora of animal species revolving around the idea of extinction in California, the new exhibit zone presents a unique organizing element rarely seen in zoos: an abstract idea rather than biogeographic or Linnean systematics.  Animals as diverse as African lions, Californian condors, and South American capybaras find homes in the Elephant Odyssey, and although the cerebral organizing element is unique, it remains to be seen if it is successful.  Let me break it down for you: California used to have a wide range of animals living on her land, but over time these species have become extinct.  However, sister species still exist elsewhere in the world, and here they are with graphic panels and sculptural representations of the now extinct counterpart.  Its strangeness may actually work to help make the story more clear--perhaps this jumble of seemingly unrelated animals will make people curious enough to actually read the panels for more information, and finally, the guests may walk away understanding a complex storyline related to their zoo experience.  But, maybe I'm overly optimistic.

eo elephant

From the photos I've seen, the Zoo decided to keep naturalism at a minimum, giving the place a clearly sterile, mechanized and utilitarian quality.  Of course, the exhibit is brand new and thus vegetation has not had a chance to grow in, but the prominence and visibility of barriers and other steely cold elements leads me to believe no amount of vegetation will ever create a natural environment throughout the Odyssey exhibits.  Perhaps the Zoo should've deleted a few species to subsidize a softer, more comfortable experience.

The Stats:

  • $45 million for entire exhibit area
  • 7.5 acres total
  • 35 species of animals
  • 2.4 acres of elephant habitat (including 137,000 gallon pool with 7.5' deep end)
  • 7 elephants (1 African, 6 Asian, including one bull)
  • Brand new on-exhibit elephant care facility
  • Restaurant overlooking the elephants
  • Gift shop

Not sure if the $45 million also included their amazing exhibit website, but check it out here for more information.

elephant odyssey

More Elephant Controversy...

As I've posted in the past, elephants at zoos have been the target of much controversy in the recent years.   Dallas Zoo recently fought public outcry to keep their lone elephant, and Chicago residents have been fighting to essentially outlaw elephants in captivity within the city limits. 

Billy in his current home

Now, the Zoo has announced it will continue the exhibit construction, against dissenting opinions.  It will become one of the over 60 zoos in the country to make the decision to keep their elephants, renovating their current exhibits or adding entirely new ones.

The new exhibit will be world class, promises the Zoo.  At over 3 acres of animal space, it would be one of the largest in the nation.   The Zoo plans on adding 3 females to make a 4 animal herd. 

New exhibit plans

Now, Los Angeles joins the spotlight, as the Zoo here has decided to keep its lone bull elephant, Billy.  Due to the star-studded cast of  outspoken animal activists, the Zoo halted construction on the elephant's new enclosure in order to re-evaluate its plans, and to hear dissenting opinions.  At the stoppage, approximately 30% of the project was complete.

Good luck to all involved in this brave project!

Humboldt Penguins Get New Digs at Woodland Park Zoo

Designed by Studio Hanson Roberts, the new exhibit to open in May of this year, features green technologies and themed design.  The penguins' new home will be outdoor, and features 30'  of underwater viewing. 

The commendable  plan for the exhibit includes heating/cooling the exhibit pool through geothermal wells, and water filtration through a combination of traditional filters and Living Machine-type natural filtration.  The water volume will be supplemented as needed with rainwater collected from back of house roofs. 





More Evidence of the Economy's Effect on Zoos

From Albuquerque, NM:

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.780136&w=425&h=350&fv=%26skin%3DMP1ExternalAll-MFL.swf%26embed%3Dtrue%26flv%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww%252Ekrqe%252Ecom%252Ffeeds%252FoutboundFeed%253FobfType%253DVIDEO%255FPLAYER%255FSMIL%255FFEED%2526componentId%253D19756198%26img%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fmedia2%252Ekrqe%252Ecom%252F%252Fphoto%252F2009%252F02%252F04%252FZoo%255Fresidents%255Fignore%255Ftoub4871cf0%252D8a04%252D42fb%252Db2dc%252Db3a065d2f1d10001%255F20090204201201%255F640%255F480%252EJPG%26story%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww%252Ekrqe%252Ecom%252Fdpp%252Fnews%252Fenvironment%252Fenvironment%255Fkrqe%255Falbuquerque%255Fzoo%255Fresidents%255Fignore%255Ftough%255Ftimes%255F200902042038%26]



From Reuters:

"Zoos Lack Funds to Inspire Obama's Future Scientists"


From Wildlife Conservation Society, New York:


Small and Sad: Dubai Zoo's Relocation on Hold Again

Amidst the worldwide economic crisis, Dubai's exponential construction and growth has come to a screeching halt.  Countless numbers of projects have been put on hold, until costcutting measures can be instated, or until the lending market (on which Dubai solely relies for its development capital) thaws. Typical Path at Dubai Zoo

Among these projects is the desperately bad, 5 acre  Dubai Zoo.  Built in the 1960s in the area referred to now as "Old Dubai", the Zoo has a long history of re-designs, master plans, and promises unkept, but this was to be the one that worked. 

The city has been building to its master plan, progressing to the goal of a vast metropolitan area comparable to the world's greats.  Pockets of developments can be seen across the desert; a strange world of clusters of towering skyscrapers dotting a sea of sand, connected by the widest highway you'll ever see.  These pockets are the early developments of the metro's "cities", similar to NYC's burroughs.  Among the cities, Sports City, Industrial City, Waterfront City, and Dubailand. 

Cold Climate Bear Surviving the Scorching Dubai Heat

Dubailand was to be the new home for the Dubai Zoo.  Dubailand, currently under construction and halted, was to be an entertainment haven, offering a variety of theme parks, malls, and, of course, the new Zoo. 

Poor Conditions at Dubai Zoo

Trying to Keep Animals Cool as Best They Can

Details on the new zoo vary widely, but it appears to be approximately 200 acres and will include the zoo, a night safari, resort style accommodations, and education facilities. 

Current Plan for Zoo??

However, it remains to be seen if this relocation will actually occur, or will this just be another in a long line of unkept promises.

Read all about it here.

Aerial Rendering of Proposed Zoo


Historic Renovation to House Monkeys at KC Zoo

kczoo-horizontalKansas City Zoo has been workly lately to give itself  a face-lift.  The Zoo, considered by locals to be the "red-headed step kid" to the world-famous St. Louis Zoo (a mere 3 hours' drive away), has seen less and less support in recent decades.  To counter this, the Zoo has set about new construction and renovations projects throughout the facilty.  Rendered Aerial View of New Entry

On the heels of the recently re-opened front entry plaza, including streamlined ticketing, parking, and otters as soon as you walk in, the Zoo is currently working on a renovation of its historic 1909 building.  This building, which started its life as the sole animal habitat for the Zoo, has been through several iterations, most recently as an education building. 

Otters in Their New Home

Now, however, construction is reclaiming its primary use, and inside the building a rainforest exhibit is being created.  Tropical plants are being flown in from Florida to make as realistic a home as possible for the monkey species, anteaters, tropical birds, and capybara which will call this place home.

The relatively small budget of $5.1 million will allow for nearly 8000 square feet of exhibit space and 5000 square feet of support.  The highlight of the exhibit is a glass enclosed bridge through the trees, where guests should be able to view monkeys playing in the branches, up close.

Rainforest Pool Under Construction

This exhibit is due to open in May, coinciding with the Zoo's Centennial celebration.  Other upcoming plans include new homes for polar bears and penguins.

Little Rock Zoo Loses Elephant Expansion Option

Little Rock Zoo, a measly 33 acres and bounded by urban land, recently lost its most viable option for expansion when the city decided to donate an empty stadium and its lot, not to the zoo as expected, but to the hospital.


Click HERE for video coverage

Little Rock Zoo is one of the few zoos in the country keeping elephants in their collections.  The land was to be used by the Zoo as an expansion to their current exhibit, in an effort to meet AZA requirements for keeping elephants. 

The requirements state that institutions holding elephants must keep at least three females in a group, and are recommending institutions have the ability to be used for breeding.  This means the Zoo would have to increase its size for at least one additional animal, as they currently have two females, and, if following the breeding route, would have to add space for at least one male.  All of this would also include increasing the safety and security of the current exhibit to bring it up to standards for housing bull elephants.  The Zoo estimated, rather loosely, that this project would cost between $10 and 20 million. 

One of the Zoo's two elephants.

Now that the stadium land option is gone, the Zoo intends to hear additional options for expansion, which includes crossing the highway passing along its southern border.  The future of the Little Rock Zoo remains to be seen, however, as pressure from the state capitol is pushing to move the zoo outside of the city proper, and the mayor is considering cutting the budget by $2 million. 

Here is a very good article about the history of the zoo, and its potential future.

Chester Zoo's Answer to Bristol Zoo's EcoPark

Project in context of zoo. As pointed out in a comment on Bristol Zoo's Eco Park, Chester Zoo has just unveiled a comparative project.  Very little in the way of imagery is available, but this project seems to mimic the Eden Project in its use of a bio-dome to create a simulated African rainforest. 

At nearly $550 million, Chester Zoo has poised itself to become the top zoo in the world for displaying African rainforest fauna.   The project, encompassing approximately 200 acres (more than double the size of many city zoos, including Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and St. Louis), incorporates many theme park elements, such as a directly linked hotel and a water ride. 

Project Rendering

From BBC News:

"A giant dome housing a rainforest is part of a £225m plan to transform Chester Zoo into Europe's largest conservation attraction.

The project includes a 56 hectare indoor African-themed rainforest where gorillas, chimpanzees and other tropical animals can move freely.

The £90m eco dome, which would form the initial phase of the scheme, would be the first of its kind in the UK.

A 90-room hotel is also set to be part of plans submitted later this year.

The project, called Natural Vision, includes a Conservation College and a revamped main entrance linking it to a marina development on zoo land next to the Shropshire Union Canal.

The dome itself will have an interactive water ride to give visitors unique views of the animal enclosures.

The aim is, by 2018, to showcase and support the zoo's international conservation work, which currently involves 50 countries.

Prof Gordon McGregor Reid, director general of Chester Zoo, said: "Natural Vision will offer a fun, family-friendly, adventurous, yet educational window on the world of conservation.

"New and exciting animal species will be introduced. This project is unlike anything that has been in the UK and will offer a spectacular visitor experience and the highest standards of animal welfare."

The zoo, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in May, attracts 1.3m visitors a year.

The new project is expected to see visitors rise to 2m when complete. Chester Zoo spans 50 hectares but owns another 200.

When finished, Natural Vision will cover 80 hectares including new road access and parking.

Meanwhile, hundreds of jobs will be created for the north west, during construction and following completion of the project, said a zoo spokesman.

Prof McGregor Reid added: "Our visitors will be immersed in the world of wildlife where we will engage, inform educate and amaze them in a truly thrilling and unique environment." "


I'm looking forward to getting more details and images on the plans for the expansion.  Much luck to all involved!

Arizona's New Aquarium

Its gaining loads of publicity, but don't be fooled.  The new aquarium (click here for plan) is not the tourism powerhouse being touted by the press. 

New Aquarium building

The aquarium is, in fact, the first for Arizona, but, at a mere 180,000 gallon capacity, its only a small and somewhat simple attraction by aquarium standards. 

Simple viewing windows and lack of signage at the WWZ's new Aquarium Expansion.

The new aquarium is an expansion of the private Wildlife World Zoo in the West Valley, and is part of a larger 10-year plan for the Zoo.  This expansion cost an extremely budget-friendly $7 million. 


However, not to seem cynical, I must congratulate the Zoo on continuing its effort to bring education about wildlife to an area lacking quality facilities.  The Zoo currently sees approximately 405,000 visitors annually, and will surely see an increase. 

Exhibits at the Aquarium include what looks to be a nice black-footed penguin habitat, a small (30' diameter) shark tank, and several touch zones.  The Zoo also incorporates rides into exhibits, including a log flume through one of the Aquarium's tanks, to make for a true Edutainment facility.

Black-footed penguins

More penguins

Viewing penguins

Shark tank from above.

Shark tank under construction

One touch tank

Sting ray touch

Check out the rest of the Wildlife World Zoo here.

Bristol Zoo's New Eco-Zoo

Its been touted as the "Eden Project" of wildlife. 

However, if you've been to the Eden Project, you'll know this project seems to fall short.  Very short, in my opinion.  

Eden Project from above.  Reclamation of Clay Mine.

eden-3The Eden Project was, and is, as innovative in approach, as it was in design, made all that more impressive by the fact that botanical gardens and arboretia tend to be, well, on the more dull side.  The Eden Project, built in a reclaimed clay mine, brought hip to gardens; it connects the reality of being green to the flashy, trendy movement.  It creates a place to enjoy nature as an art, and art in nature, sometimes quite literally.  It's also beautiful, fun, exciting, and a gorgeous piece of architecture and landscape architecture.

Walk at Eden Project

Bristol Zoo's "Eco-Zoo", which was conceived over 40 years ago and since shelved, claims to become "the first conservation-led animal visitor attraction of its kind in the UK."  The $140 million Park is planned at 136 acres, and aims to be open by 2012, a lofty goal considering it hasn't yet been approved.  The Park estimates attendance at 400,000 annually.  

Touting itself as the "next generation of zoological attractions", I'm especially curious at what it aims to do differently.  The single article I could find about it outlines a few key points:

1.  "Bristol's "eco zoo" could connect the inherent interest value of captive animals with the conservation methods needed to save their wild cousins."

2. "The whole idea of captivity will be reduced to a minimum....The often controversially cramped spaces of the Victorian era's most famous zoos are gone – replaced with open land, moats and ditches."

3. "...most importantly, the four themed areas of the park...have all been chosen to reflect specific areas of the world where conservation is desperately needed to save critically endangered species. "

The Eco-Zoo's Sumatra Exhibit

The Eco-Zoo's Sumatran Exhibit

 So far, this sounds very similar to most zoos creating new exhibits across the U.S. and world.  Victorian era design died in the Victorian era, and as illustrated in a previous post, the idea of landscape immersion has been around since the 1970s.  Creating themed areas based on conservation needs is what is done with virtually every new exhibit out there.  What of all of the recent and upcoming Arctic exhibits?  Bronx Zoo's Madagascar!? I'm duly unimpressed thus far...

The Eco-Zoo's British Woodland Exhibit
The Eco-Zoo's British Woodland Exhibit

The Eco-Zoo's Indian Ocean Exhibit


But then there's this:

"Food for the animals will be organic, while 80 per cent of the building material will be locally sourced and sustainable. "

And this:

"Every aspect of the park's design incorporates sustainability, from the buildings and the engineering infrastructure to the landscape."

Now that's new.  Seriously, folks.  Zoos tout themselves as conservation leaders, but are some of the most un-green institutions out there.  Tremendous amounts of water and electricity are wasted daily on washout of stalls and sustaining water life support systems in tanks and pools, amongst other things.  

Buildings themselves are most often behind the scenes and often suffer from the smallest budget.  For this reason, environmentally friendly alternative building practices rarely are integrated.   Recently, however, some zoos have been making an effort with their "non-animal" buildings, such as the LEED silver certified Nutrition Center at St. Louis Zoo.  

Silver Certified Nutrition Center at St. Louis Zoo

Speaking of the infamous LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accreditation, no standards exist for buildings housing animals.  So, zoos and aquariums looking to do right by the environment through LEED (and gain a little good press and grant money, too), are oftentimes without means.   In the non-profit sector (as in many others), if you can't gain revenue or attendance increases from something, it isn't done.  And there goes the green leadership...

However, if this project can put their money where their mouth is (almost literally!), they may be onto something special.  If not for innovation in zoological exhibit design, then definitely for innovation in zoological construction and green design. 

I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for more news about this potentially exciting project.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Chiang Mai Zoo's Aquarium Open At Last...

chiang-mai-logoThe Aquarium, the newest add to Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo, is finally open.  In late October, the Aquarium shut down literally hours after its official opening gala, due to malfunctions in both the life support systems and the ticketing machines.  Apparently, sand had found its way past the filtration system entering the main tank, and creating water murky enough to delay the opening for about three weeks. 

Saltwater Tank at Chiang Mai's Aquarium

However, the Aquarium is now up and running, and is touted as Southeast Asia's largest with an expectation to gain 800,000 visitors annually.  The Aquarium was built as a joint venture between the Zoological Park Organization (an apparently governmental body) and an undisclosed private investor for the sum of $17 million. 

Saltwater Tank at Chiang Mai's Aquarium

Boasting the World's Longest Acrylic Tunnel at 133 meters (436 feet--longer than a football field!), the Aquarium is over 13,000 sf in area divided into 9 zones.  The tunnel itself not only allows visitors to gaze into the depths of a marine environment, but also takes visitors through a freshwater tank.

Freshwater Tank at Chiang Mai's Aquarium

I've not been able to find many pictures of the Aquarium online, so if you know of any, please let me know.

Dubai's Record Setting Acrylic

duabi-aq-entry2Recently opened Dubai Aquarium, inside the gargantuan Dubai Mall, set the new Guiness World Record for "World's Largest Acrylic Panel" this November.  According to Emaar Malls, the Dubai Mall developer, the panel measures "32.88 metres wide x 8.3 metres high x 750 mm thick...weighing 245,614 kg, the viewing panel at Dubai Aquarium surpasses the current Guinness World Record holder, Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa, Japan, at 22.5 metres wide x 8.2 metres high and 600 mm thick."

For those metric-impared Americans, that's  nearly 108' wide x 27' tall.  This dwarfs the large and impressive Ocean Voyager acrylic panel at Georgia Aquarium, which is 61' wide x 23' tall. 


The large tank also has a long tunnel, running about 160' in length at a depth of 36'.  Georgia Aquarium's tunnel is only 100' in length at a similar depth.  However, both of these tunnels are tiny compared to L'Aquarium in Barcelona, Spain.  This tunnel is reportedly over 260' in length!

L'Aquarium's Massive Tunnel

The rest of the Dubai Aquarium includes three habitat centered thematic zones:  Living Ocean (different from the large ocean tank), Rocky Shore, and Rainforest.

Living Ocean highlights unusual individual specimens such as Moray Eels, Jellies, and Sea Dragons.  The Rocky Shore showcases Humboldt penguins, Harbour seals, and a touch tidal pool.  The Rainforest focuses on interesting freshwater creatures like piranha, catfish, and otters.

Berlin Zoo's Super Star Needs Bigger Habitat

Berlin Zoo's megastar polar bear, Knut (the zoo's equivalent of a studio produced boy band), turned two  on Friday, December 5.  However, the celebration was a quiet affair.  Happy Birthday, Knut!

News that the bear needs a larger enclosure as he reaches maturity has the bear's biggest fans all atwitter.  Due to the omnipresent credit crunch, the Zoo's intention to renovate the bear's home have all but disappeared.  Instead, the Zoo is looking for potential new homes at European zoos far and wide.


I'm impressed to hear the Zoo is willing to give up its 27% increase in attendance in exchange for "doing the right thing"--for the bear itself (to have a healthier and happier life), and for the species as a whole (to be given a chance to breed). 

Read the whole story here.  There's a nice little video along with the article that I can't seem to get into the post.  Check it out.

New York Aquarium Facelift?

For years, it seems, the NY Aquarium has been flirting with revamping its exterior.  In 2006, the city hosted a design competition for that very reason.  Three very interesting finalists were chosen, and eventually, one winner announced. 

Smith-Miller + Hawkinson's Winning Design Concept

Then, this spring, that design was thrown out the window for apparently being too restrictive to potential future growth.  The next step, according to city officials, is to re-work the interior of the aquarium to attract new visitors. 

First on the plate? A new shark tank. The $50 million tank would triple the aquarium's current shark population to 40, and plans for the 300,000 gallon tank include an arch for guests to walk beneath.  For comparison, 300,000 gallons is approximately 1/18th the size of the Ocean Voyager tank at Georgia Aquarium.  $50 million for 300,000 gallons seems a bit pricey to me, so perhaps other unreported exhibits are included in that number.

Ocean Voyager's 6 million gallons at Georgia Aquarium

ny-aquarium_51142All of those plans are now moot, though, as the New York state government is proposing 55% budget cuts to all of the state's "living museums."  This includes the NY Aquarium, the Bronx Zoo, and the Botanical Gardens, amongst many others.  If this proposal passes, any redesign or renovation of the Aquarium is surely to die. 

Sadly, I'm awaiting news of these types of budget cuts to occur all across the U.S. and the world, as unfortunately, educational and entertainment budgets are always the first to go.  If your local zoo, aquarium, or living museum is currently facing major cutbacks, please let me know and I'll gladly post your story here.

News of Aquaria Across the Globe

I've been finding tidbits of news about new aquaria and new additions to old aquaria around the world recently.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to find anything in depth about ANY of them, so I decided to make a single posting with links to some of the soon to be built / soon to be open / recently opened aquaria making news these days.  If you happen to have any info on any of these, or others, please let me know. 

Guadalajara Zoo's New Aquarium in Jalisco, Mexico:  $2.5 million addition to existing zoo with 95 species of fish.  The main attraction is the aquarium's great white shark, previously only temporarily exhibited successfully by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  No details on the Guadalajara Aquarium's exhibit.

Steinhart Aquarium at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco:  Expansion of existing aquarium adds California Coast exhibits, including 100,000 gallon main tank and the world's deepest coral reef tank at 25 feet deep.  Opens September 27 as part of the new Science Museum which also includes a Living Rainforest, Penguins, and Alligator exhibits, as well as a planetarium and natural history museum.  The Museum complex is another example in the evolution of the science institution as outlined in a previous post.

Xanadu Aquarium at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey:  Controversial aquarium in the works, awaiting approval by the New Jersery Governor, plans to be the second largest aquarium in the U.S., behind the Georgia Aquarium.  Estimated cost: $200 million.  Estimated attendance: 2.5 million annually.

Chiang Mai Zoo's Aquarium in Northern Thailand:  Expected to open in October of this year, the aquarium boasts 8000 individual animals of 250 species.  Nearly 88,000 sf in area, the aquarium will supposedly have the world's longest acrylic tube through a tank (the length is undisclosed).  Approximate cost: $17 million.

The Blue Planet Aquarium in Copenhagen, Denmark:  Danish designers, 3XN, recently won the design competition for the new aquarium which, as far as I can tell, is the newest in the Blue Planet family seen across Europe.  Details are scarce, but design images are not. 

Dakota Zoo's New Tiger Exhibit

Apparently, its Tiger Week here at DesigningZoos.com!  To continue the trend, I'm bringing you the exclusive details on the Dakota Zoo's new Tiger exhibit.  This week, the Zoo, located in Bismarck, ND, opened Phase I of its new two-part big cat exhibit. Phase I is a super-sized tiger exhibit, currently housing three adolescent Siberian Tigers, and Phase II, slated to open September this year, will be the new home to two Snow Leopards.  Here is a local news reporter's tour through the exhibit. The Zoo successfully managed to stretch its limited budget of $1.2 million to the max, by primarily focusing on animal well-being and visitor proximity above theming and story-delivery. The guest features of the tiger habitat include pop-up viewing stations inside the exhibit, as well as nose-to-nose glass viewing from the perimeter.

The tigers are lavishly provided for, as well, with an enormous 45,000 sf of exhibit space. For comparison, the Bronx Zoo's large six tiger habitat, opened in 2003, is approximately 65,000 sf (that's 10,800 sf / tiger) while Dallas Zoo's six tiger habitat, opened in 1999, is a more typical 28,000 sf (4600 sf / tiger). The Dakota Zoo has planned for a maximum of four total tigers, which would mean each tiger could have a possible 11,250 sf territory to roam, when the facility is maxed out.

The exhibit also features pools for swimming and play, rocks for lounging and climbing, natural vegetation for shade, and grass underfoot.

The Dakota Zoo's back of house support area is also impressive, providing four somewhat standard-sized stalls of 120 sf each (10' x 12'), with an additional 1200 sf off-exhibit yard.

Terry Lincoln, Director of the Dakota Zoo, kindly took a few minutes to share some thoughts on the exhibit with me. Via e-mail, I asked him if the recent press coverage of the San Francisco Zoo's attack had affected any of the planning for this exhibit.

"We did review the San Francisco tiger incident and didn't end up changing our plans, although we were interested to learn that our den height of 12' was roughly the same height as their exhibit wall. Our den {ed. note: holding building which serves as one barrier of tiger enclosure} has 4.5' of mesh and solid invert above the 12' level to prohibit jumping or climbing {from within the exhibit}. We {also} made provisions to install a video DVR system to monitor and record the guardrail areas in the event that an incident were to occur."

He also mentioned the exhibit walls are 16.5' tall, and made from 3" mesh. The full height includes a four foot kickback at the top. Additionally, the tigers are discouraged from approaching the mesh walls with a single strand of hotwire at the two foot level. Click here to watch a video of Terry and the stars of the show being interviewed at the off-exhibit yard.

This exhibit took over eight years of planning and fundraising. The Zoo designed the exhibit in-house, hiring a local architect to draw it up for them.  It is clear by the amount of local press coverage of the exhibit that the city is very proud of the exhibit and the zoo. Congratulations to all involved in Phase I, and best of luck in Phase II.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Erie Zoo's New Tiger Exhibit

Nikki Thinking About It The AP story about Erie Zoo's shy tiger is showing up in most of the nation's local papers and is plastered all over the internet...just try googling Erie Zoo and tiger!  The brief article tells us the tiger, a male named Nikki, who is a recent addition to the zoo, is taking his sweet time to explore the exhibit.  Two months, so far, and he's only poked his head out.  The article does not go into detail about the exhibit.

After some searching, I've found some additional information related to zoo design.  The $500,000 exhibit renovation included adding a yard (essentially doubling the space for the tigers), adding grass versus the traditional rockwork underfoot, and upgrading the visitor experience to include glass viewing for nose-to-nose interaction, mesh training panels, and shade to encourage lingering (and in Erie, I suspect, to protect from snow).  Here's a video on the new exhibit.

Nikki came from the Brookfield Zoo, whose tiger exhibit leaves much to be desired.  The Brookfield exhibit is a remnant of the historic bear pits, and is mostly rockwork.  The Zoo has upgraded as much as possible by adding some natural substrate and encouraging vegetative growth, but the exhibit is highly dated.  Visitors can view 180 degrees along the moated pathway.  Nikki's hesitation to explore might be exacerbated by the extreme difference in habitats, not to mention his change of city and additional new neighbors.  Or, he could, as the AP puts it, just be shy. 

Brookfield Tiger Sleeping

If anyone has more data on the new Erie renovation, please pass it along.  I'm curious especially about size and barriers.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

MI Zoo's Reaction to San Fran's Tiger

This article is definitely a little late in the game, but its an interesting read in relation to how zoos nationwide are affected by local tragedies. 

Essentially, the attack in San Francisco has caused zoos to re-evaluate the safety of their own enclosures, and, in some instances, add additional safeguards to new and existing exhibits.  John Ball Zoo opened the Lions of Lake Manyara exhibit this summer, after having carefully considered the events in San Francisco. 

The zoo community is very close-knitted.  Issues that affect one zoo, also have effects elsewhere.  Keep this in mind when designing for multiple zoos.  We can always learn from each other.

Legoland Opens Aquarium

San Diego's Legoland theme park just opened the doors on its sister facility, SEA LIFE Aquarium. The Aquarium is 175,000 gallons in total with one large main tank, featuring an acrylic walk-thru tube, sea horse exhibits, and tidal pool touch tanks.  The tanks will include over 70 lego statues including a 10 foot creation of Poseidon.

This SEA LIFE Aquarium, one of the over 20 of the SEA LIFE branded aquariums centered in Europe, is focused on regional fauna, including both sea and fresh water of California.

For reference, the Georgia Aquarium, which is one of the largest, if not the largest, aquarium in the world (depending on which stats you chose to use), holds a total of over 8 million gallons of water. The Ocean Voyager tank alone, in which lives the Aquarium's whale sharks, holds over 6 million gallons. The Shamu Show facility at Sea World Orlando, including all back of house pools and show pools, holds approximately 7 million gallons of water.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

American Tigers Pave Way for Baghdad Zoo

Baghdad Zoo has probably never been at the forefront of innovation in animal husbandry and exhibitry, but after enduring continuous destruction from war over the last few years, its been decimated.  The zoo's collection has depleted to just under 800 specimens of mostly birds.  Recently, in an act of good will, the U.S. has endeavored to send the Zoo a pair adolescent tiger siblings from a sanctuary in North Carolina.  The act is controversial for many reasons, but, from our point of view, mostly because of the lack of modern (ethically) designed habitat for the tigers.


On the flip side, the move brings a positive light to the zoo, which has already increased the visitor attendance.  An increased attendance will, eventually, lead to capital projects which will hopefully include a new tiger exhibit. 

For the time being, the cubs are provided with all of the basic elements standard in exhibits: natural substrate, a medium sized pool, enrichment devices and shade from the sun.  That's a start.  And, if you consider the environment from which they came, being that sanctuaries rarely spend money on the aesthetic design of an animal habitat, the new home is probably not much different for them. 

Hopefully, the heightened Zoo security will keep the tigers safe from harm.  Safety is the real issue here.  Aesthetics will provide a much more comfortable home for the tigers, giving them more places of reprieve from being on exhibit, as well as providing more complex spaces for play.  However, the main reason we provide aesthetically pleasing exhibits is for the guest.  In this case, the guests, I assume, are happy to just have a functioning zoo at all.

Take a look at a video of the cubs in their new home, here.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine