Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: March 12, 2022 8:34 pm
Paul A. Baribault, president and chief executive officer of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, along with a group of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance team members, youth from across San Diego, and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax open the Wildlife Explorers Basecamp Habitat
Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
San Diego Zoo opened their new Wildlife Explorers Basecamp habitat today providing a space for visitors of all ages to connect with wildlife. The new attraction replaces the former children's zoo.
Paul A. Baribault, president and chief executive officer of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance was joined by a group of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance team members, youth from across San Diego, and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax to open the habitat.
This new 3.2 acre zone features a range of ecosystems which guests can explore. It is filled with high-tech interactive opportunities that nurture empathy for wildlife and encourage future caretakers of the planet.
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“Wildlife Explorers Basecamp speaks to the budding conservationist within us all and shows us the marvels of the natural world,” said Paul A. Baribault, president and chief executive officer of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “Through these gates millions of world changers will begin their journey with nature, and demonstrate the power of empathy and compassion as they join us to become allies for wildlife”.
Wildlife Explorers Basecamp is based around eight habitats and the animals which live there.
Conservation was at the forefront of design efforts in Wildlife Explorers Basecamp. Builders worked to incorporate sustainable materials in to the buildings. One of these was ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE)— a fluorine-based plastic that is created to be more resistant to corrosion. The system is 100% recyclable, and consists of a series of custom-sized Teflon multilayered “air pillows”—which, when filled with air, provide solar insulation while also reducing the need for artificial lighting.
More on the four zones of the Wildlife Explorers Basecamp.
The Rainforest Zone
The Rainforest zone is centered around the 10,000-square-foot McKinney Family Spineless Marvels building, where guests will experience invertebrates—including crustaceans, arachnids and insects—such as leafcutter ants, spiders, scorpions, stick insects and more. Inside, there is a pollinator experience with giant beeswax-fragrant honeycombs and an observation pane that gives guests the chance to see the workings of a real-life beehive. The projected migration flyover encounter showcases various insects, including migrating monarch butterflies, grasshoppers and dragonflies as part of a large meadow scene that curves along walls and encompasses a domed ceiling.
The Wild Woods area offers guests the chance to visit with unusual wildlife species, such as coatis and squirrel monkeys, which are both native to Central and South America. The space features the striking Prebys Foundation Discovery Bridge and a 20-foot-tall Tree of Dreams—a tree house designed as an ancient oak. This dynamic and detailed nature-play tree provides multiple points of access for guests—from a suspension bridge and net tunnel to a spiral staircase—and a parallel play experience to the squirrel monkeys that live in the adjacent habitat. Water play is another focus of this woodland-themed zone, which includes a waterfall that flows into a gentle meandering stream, an exhilarating splash pad, unpredictable water jets, and a bluff area with a boulder scramble made to encourage exploration.
Marsh Meadows aims to evoke a sense of visiting marsh-like habitats, including swamps and estuaries. The pathway through this area was designed to help convey a sense that guests are inhabiting the marsh along with frogs, fish and other wildlife that lives there. The central hub of Marsh Meadows is the Art and Danielle Engel-funded Jake’s Cool Critters building—a two-story herpetology and ichthyology structure with more than 7,000 square feet of immersive environments, digital media, learning opportunities and educational classroom spaces, created to engage wildlife explorers of all ages. The wildlife here includes snakes, amphibians, crocodilians, turtles and lizards, including endangered Fijian iguanas.
At the nearby Rady Ambassadors Headquarters, guests will meet wildlife from all over the planet, including a two-toed sloth and a prehensile-tailed porcupine, and learn more about how everyone can help conserve them in their native habitats.
Finally, Desert Dunes, a dry desert wash-themed area, offers fun boulder play prospects for climbing, scrambling, hopping and more. Reptile sculptures and petroglyphs can be found among the rocks, while cool caves provide shaded areas where guests can beat the heat, like their desert wildlife counterparts—including the fennec fox, prairie dog and burrowing owl.
Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance