Months after Roo Valley received the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Ohio’s Leadership Award for Green Building, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden continues to achieve excellence in sustainable habitat design and animal care. The reinvestment strategy includes providing larger, enhanced animal habitats, new enrichment opportunities, and better care facilities.
The latest project, currently underway, is the Chinese Alligator exhibit, which will open to the public in a few weeks. This critically endangered animal is a cousin of the American alligator. Other recently completed restoration projects include the Galapagos Tortoise, bald eagle, eagle owl, and gorilla exhibits, just to name a few. Each project was developed with a focus on animal well-being, but these renovations also dramatically improve the visitor experience.
The Galapagos Tortoise exhibit area was enlarged 10 times from the previous yard, while the holding area was expanded with a new building addition. This addition allows for even better animal care. The new outdoor exhibit provides patrons with a chance to meet and even pet the tortoises. The larger pond with waterfall provides the tortoises a way to cool down in the hot summer and allows for exercise and social interaction. Additional rockwork was constructed within the larger footprint.
The tortoise building addition provided an opportunity to enhance the American Eagle exhibit, which is tucked behind the tortoise habitat. The back this the new addition was clad in artificial rockwork with a beautiful trickling waterfall in the center. The rockwork and lush foliage (most of which was maintained from the previous exhibit) serves as a perfect naturalistic setting for this regal species. Other renovation work, such as embellishing an existing concrete creek bed with earthen textures and rock, further enhances the habitat.
The upgrades to the gorilla and eagle owl included simulated trees as enrichment items, while the Manatee view area was enhanced with sculpted manatee benches. These benches are a tremendous hit with zoo guests.
The renovation projects involve a collaborative team effort between the zoo design and project management staff and multiple contractors. COST constructed simulated rockwork, waterfalls, earthen textures, artificial trees, and the sculpted manatee benches for these projects.