Marwell Zoo has today unveiled its unique £8m Tropical House – its largest and most ambitious project to date.
Under its spectacular state-of-the-art curved roof, crafted with cutting-edge technology, a rainforest and a living laboratory will come to life.
Spanning two levels with fantastic vantage points across a lush canopy, with a cascading waterfall and a bustling forest floor below, guests will become more connected with a diversity of extraordinary wildlife than ever before. Nature lovers will experience uninterrupted face-to-face encounters with animals from all six groups - mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates while learning about the flow of energy through life.
This unique rainforest will become home to animals including a Linné's two-toed sloth, Java chevrotain, crocodile monitor lizard, and pygmy marmosets on their own primate island. There will also be free-flying birds and butterflies, Roti Island snake-necked turtles and more than 1,000 fish in the aquarium.
James Cretney, Marwell Zoo’s Chief Executive, said: “This phenomenal exhibit is our largest and most ambitious project to date.
"It is designed to be a key guest experience with clear and complementary education and sustainability. It represents a high quality, novel and immersive exhibit creating much needed indoor and weather-proof space, adding to the overall standard of the Marwell experience. It will deliver guaranteed, close proximity animal viewing while enhancing and setting new standards of husbandry for the species displayed – we really are very excited about this. The treatment of animal waste (dung, excess hay and bedding) and other renewable technologies will provide energy for this and other buildings at Marwell, significantly reducing our carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels. This is a very important time in our history.”
The unique contemporary structure, the size of two football pitches, is constructed using the latest technology of ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) as used in the Eden Project. It is 100 per cent recyclable and allows natural UV light to shine through, allowing some of the world’s most impressive and unique plants the chance to flourish. From bamboo to mango trees, there are a total of 450 individual plants from 45 different species, growing in 400 tonnes of soil – the same weight as approximately 160 white rhinos.
Leading the way in sustainability, the groundbreaking project will showcase the effects of climate change, how the energy we need to power our modern lifestyles is generated and how alternative renewable energy can help humans and animals alike. Marwell’s animal waste (dung, soiled bedding and leftover hay) and woodchip from its woodland management operations will be converted into energy to heat the site, while the rainwater is harvested and recycled. This will significantly reduce Marwell Zoo’s carbon footprint and take a step closer to the goal of the zoo becoming carbon neutral by 2020.
The Tropical House marks the second phase of a £17m investment programme creating improved habitats for animals and a more immersive experience for guests. Marwell Zoo, home to more than 140 species, is owned by Marwell Wildlife, a global conservation charity leading programmes in the UK, Africa and across the world. The charity engages with over 400,000 children and young people through conservation educational programmes and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors each year to its 140 acre site.
The Tropical House will open its doors to the public on 26 March 2018 following an exclusive members’ preview event.
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