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Explorers Basecamp Coming to Life at San Diego Zoo

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: October 31, 2021 1:10 am

Explorers Basecamp Opening at San Diego Zoo

A rendering of the entrance to the Wildlife Explorers Basecamp Zone at the San Diego Zoo

Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA) have provided additional renderings of their expansive new explorers basecamp habitat along with announcing the opening date. The 3.2 acre habitat sits on the site of the former Children's Zoo but is designed to appeal to a broader audience.

This area will officially be known as the Denny Sanford Wildlife Explorers Basecamp and includes four themed zones. Guests will be able to explore the zone from February of 2022.

The SDZWA are grateful for the 3,092 donors who made the $87 million habitat possible. Foundational gifts were provided by Denny Sanford, Ernest and Evelyn Rady, the McKinney family, The Conrad Prebys Foundation, the Una Davis family, the Bob and Marion Wilson family, Art and Danielle Engel, the Hervey Family Fund at The San Diego Foundation, and the Zuest family.

“The new and innovative elements of Wildlife Explorers Basecamp encourage our explorers to gain a better understanding of their role in the natural world by getting a glimpse of life from the wildlife’s point of view,” said Paul A. Baribault, president and chief executive officer of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

“It’s a fun, accessible and meaningful way to discover how we’re all connected, and that the health of the smallest members of the wildlife community is inextricably linked to our own human health.”

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This new zone will blend innovation with immersive technology which will allow guests to connect with amazing species such as leafcutter ants, prairie dogs and sloths.

Guests visiting the habitat will find four types of habitats each with their own unique wildlife. These are – Rainforest, Wild Woods, Marsh Meadows and Desert Dunes. All of the play and learning opportunities in the habitat are designed to foster a sense of nurturing in the future caretakers of our planet.

“We consulted with child development experts early in the design process, who said if you want future generations to really have empathy for wildlife, they need to see the world from the animals’ perspective,” added Chief Operating Officer Shawn Dixon.

Below is a brief description of each of the four zones.

The Rainforest

The Rainforest area of Basecamp is centered around the 10,000-square-foot McKinney Family Spineless Marvels building. It features arachnids, crustaceans and insects, including free-flying butterflies and moths, a two-story leafcutter ant experience, a coconut crab habitat and a world of spiders, scorpions, stick insects, katydids, beetles, mantises and more. The pollinator experience pairs a real-life beehive with a larger-than-life honeycomb, inviting young guests to become the bee. Within this immersive space, they will also learn about the fascinating lives of our own native bees and other pollinators like African flower beetles and butterflies.

Wild Woods

Wild Woods is an area for wildlife species including coatis and squirrel monkeys. While crossing The Conrad Prebys Foundation Discovery Bridge, guests immediately encounter an “ancient oak tree” that is more than 20 feet tall. It is built for kids to climb, and provides a parallel-play experience because it is adjacent to the squirrel monkey habitat.

Marsh Meadows

Marsh Meadows is designed with an array of plant life, strategically designed to attract native bird species, butterflies and bees. There is also the two-story Art and Danielle Engel Cool Critters building that offers 7,000 square feet of immersive environments, digital media and learning opportunities. The wildlife here includes snakes, amphibians, crocodilians, turtles and lizards, including endangered Fijian iguanas. It also showcases the of the kind of partnerships SDZWA forges with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Nature Fiji and the National Trust of Fiji, to preserve delicate ecosystems and build successful breeding colonies of Fijian iguanas. 

Desert Dunes

The Desert Dunes section of Wildlife Explorers Basecamp features animals found in the Southwest United States—including fennec foxes, prairie dogs and burrowing owls, a key species for the Alliance. 

Learn more about the San Diego Zoo on their website – San Diego Zoo

Explorers Basecamp Opening at San Diego Zoo

A rendering of the entrance to the Rope Bridge in the Wild Woods Area at the San Diego Zoo's new Explorers Basecamp Habitat

Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

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