Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.
The 2-acre multispecies complex will open in two phases: phase one will feature Asian small-clawed otters and a kids’ nature play area opening in May 2013, and phase two will showcase endangered Malayan tigers and sloth bears.
The complex will use sustainable design to provide tigers, sloth bears, Asian small-clawed otters and other species representing the biodiversity of tropical Asia with a naturalistic, enriching environment that evokes lush forests and encourages natural behaviors. Tigers will stalk “prey” as they chase a lure line, jostle trees to retrieve snacks, nap under the roots of a tropical tree, splash in a shallow pool and care for cubs in a spacious exhibit built to accommodate multiple generations.
To bring the behind-the-scenes care of these animals into the forefront for zoo visitors, the exhibit design includes specialized training stations where keepers will interact one-on-one with tigers and sloth bears. These training presentations will get visitors closer to live predators than at any other exhibit at the zoo, and provide insight into how the zoo safely cares for such large and dangerous animals.
An immersive play area for children will allow young explorers to learn about the forest through joyful, full-bodied nature play—balancing on logs, crossing a wobble bridge, flying along a mini-zipline—all safely designed to stimulate mental and motor skill development while setting the scene of a tropical field conservation site where boundaries between humans and wildlife collide.