North of England Zoological Society
, Chester CH2 1LH
, Great Britain
Phone: +44-1244-380 280
Fax: +44 (0)1244 371 273
Asia, elephants, forest, conservation, self-directed learning
|Bucerotidae||Buceros bicornis||Great hornbill||1.1 + offspring|
|Carettochelyidae||Carettochelys insculpta||Fly river turtle||1.1|
|Cobitidae||Botia macracanthus||Clown loach||many|
|Corvidae||Cyanopica cyana||Azure-winged magpie||2.2 + offspring|
|Cyprinidae||Probarbus jullieni||Pla Eesok||0.0.6|
|Elephantidae||Elephas maximus||Asian elephant||2.8 + 5 offspring|
|Osteoglossidae||Scleropages formosus||Asian arowana||0.0.2|
|Phasianidae||Pavo muticus||Green peafowl||1.1 + offspring|
|Sciuridae||Callosciurus erythraeus||Pallas' squirrel||1.1 +offspring|
|Sciuridae||Callosciurus prevosti||Prevost's squirrel||1.1 + offspring|
|Testudinidae||Indotestudo elongata||Elongated tortoise||1.1|
|Tupaiidae||Tupaia belangeri||Belanger's tree shrew||1.1 + offspring|
The new state-of-the-art facility ‘Elephants of the Asian Forest’ is a purpose built enclosure for our breeding herd of Asian elephants and other threatened species of their habitat. Through this themed area Chester Zoo promotes the outreach conservation work of the North of England Zoological Society (NEZS).
The new building, a big tropical house, is situated on the site where the old building was, but is much more spacious than the old one. Next to the elephant indoor enclosures there are several off-show pens, especially for the bull. One main outside elephant paddock (with a pool), a bull yard and two off-show yards allow to separate elephants if necessary. The outside exhibit was finished in 2000, the inside in 2006.
Inside the house the visitors journey along a pathway through forest vegetation and live planting is supplemented with artificial trees and roots. Enclosures for typical animals of the elephants' habitat, interpretation elements and models support the message of biodiversity with Asian elephants as flagship species. In the entrance area is an aviary for Asian birds. The first animal encounter in the building is with Great hornbills. Further themed enclosures along the pathway display small mammals, reptiles and fish. On leaving the building the visitors pass two enclosures for tropical squirrels.
Along the outside exhibit the visitors can follow a pathway with different viewing points and educational features. Here, the barrier is a ha-ha (accessible dry moat) on most parts. On one side concrete poles looking like tree trunks form the exhibit barrier.
'Elephants of the Asian Forest’ has a total size of nearly 1 ha including service and visitor areas. The main yard for elephants has a size of 5900 m² (including a planting bed of 160 m² and a separation yard of 227 m²) and the bull yard is 550 m². Two off-show yards have a total size of 270 m². The building itself has a footprint of 2730 m².
Asian elephant: The main cow area covers 1000 m² which can be divided into five separate pens. Three more pens (407 m²; 165 m²; 275 m²) are available for bulls and management purposes (e.g. quarantine, separation).
Great hornbill: 117 m²; tree shrew: 16 m²; aquarium: 17 m² (23,800 litres); squirrels: two exhibits each 35 m²; Asian bird aviary: 63,5 m²
Space allocation in square meters:
|use||indoors||outdoors|| total exhibit |
|accessible|| total ||accessible|| total |
£ 3,000,000 including 7 % for design.
The costs are for the building only since the outside exhibit was already finished in 2000.
10 April 2006
Beginning: April 2003
- Project Management: ARJ Associates, Ellesmere Port, England
- Architects: BFAW, Manchester, England
- M&E Consultants: Davis Partnership, Boroughbridge, England
- Quantity Surveyors: Davis Langdon, Liverpool, England
- Structural Engineers: ARJ Associates, Ellesmere Port, England
- CDM: BWF & Siobhan Molloy
- Theming Design: Chester Zoo Team
- Botanical Landscape: Chester Zoo (Botanic Teams)
- Interpretation: Chester Zoo (Education Division)
Beginning: December 2004
- Main Contractor: Read Construction, Llangollen, Wales
- M & E: Davis Partnership, Boroughbridge, England
- Theming/Rockwork: Pangea Rocks, Varde, Denmark
The overall theme for the planting is Asian tropical rainforest. The outside entrance area has been heavily planted with large leaved ‘exotic looking’ plants, many of which are evergreen. This theme is continued into the House, and because the House is maintained as a tropical environment we have been able to use plants from S.E. Asia.
A number of educationally interesting and some economically important tropical plants are being grown. They contribute to the interdependence message. This include Amophophallus albus, A. dunnii, A. konjac, Musa ‘Cavendish (Banana), Ficus religiosa (Peepul tree), Zingiber officinale (Ginger), Elettaria cardamomum (Cardamom), Artocarpus altilis (Breadfruit), A. heterophyllus (Jakfruit), Averrhoa carambola (Star fruit), Cananga odorata (Ylang-Ylang), Magnifera indica (Mango), Carica papaya (Pawpaw), Tectona grandis (Teak). A significant number of lianes and climbers have also been used.
The plant list specifies the Latin names of the plants used for this exhibit.
FEATURES DEDICATED TO ANIMALS:
Asian elephant: The floor is covered with rubber and partially with sand which is gentler to elephant feet than concrete paving. The feeding dispensers (inside and outside) are designed to serve as enrichment. Moats have gentle slopes to provide maximum space and safety (excluding the risk of animals falling into moats). The outside pool is accessible from all sides so that there is no chance that an animal can trap another subordinate one.
Small mammals: Light timers provide natural light duration.
Asian bird aviary: Outdoor sheds have heating.
Great hornbill: A dimmer switch generates dawn light. Special nest boxes are provided.
Aquarium: Light timers provide natural light duration.
FEATURES DEDICATED TO KEEPERS:
A training fence at the bull pen with openings for the elephant's feet and ears allows protected contact between keepers and bulls. There is an elephant race with training fences on both sides in order to restraint an elephant if necessary.
All gates are hydraulic and can be operated from a control room or a safe area on site. There is camera control for all gates and camera views of the pens, including night-vision capability.
FEATURES DEDICATED TO VISITORS:
Visitors can stay in the building for a long time during bad weather and winter without losing interest, as there are many different species and educational features to enjoy. Along the outside elephant exhibit, different viewing points deliver different insights at different height levels. The paths are accessible for everybody and glass windows in some barriers provide views onto lower levels. A life-size bronze model of a baby elephant in the outside area provides a nice photo motive for visitors.
Our new ‘Elephants of the Asian Forest’ exhibit celebrates the richness and complexity of forest life. The interpretation was designed to be inclusive, engaging visitors of all ages and abilities. A fun, interactive, multi-sensory approach stimulates exploration. Primer signs along the entrance pathway pose questions and encourage self-directed learning e.g. spotting signs of elephant presence such as footprints, dung and damaged trees. Attractive signage conforms to good practice with simple, straightforward text and colourful illustrations or photographs to add immediacy. Interactive panels, stories, models and, of course, live plants and animals engage the visitor and deliver conservation messages relating to biodiversity, interdependences and Chester Zoo’s in-situ work in Assam. The life-like models are popular as they demonstrate a variety of animal behaviours not readily seen with live species e.g. tree shrew foraging in rafflesia, tortoise laying eggs, tree squirrels feeding in a tree.
Existing interpretation around the outside paddock and viewing area raises visitor awareness of elephant biology and adaptations, their husbandry and conservation issues. Visitors enjoy touching models, lifting flaps and reading diaries while watching the elephants splash in their pool. This water is cleaned using a reedbed nearby. Interpretation in the reedbed area delivers an important sustainability message in a fun way.
The elephant facilities are maintained by a team of six keepers. One bull and three cows are managed in protected contact while the rest of the herd is managed in direct contact. The bird, small mammal and aquarium exhibits are serviced by several keepers from separate teams.
In 2006, 15 external researchers conducted projects on elephant behaviour. The zoo’s in-house research assistant conducted research on the transfer of a new female elephant from a zoo in France to Chester Zoo and the effects which this introduction has had on the whole herd. The education department staff also conducted research on several aspects:
• Tracking of visitors around the exhibit, recording overall dwell time
• Recording time spent at different exhibit elements (animals, educational material, etc.)
• Looking at the effect of visitor density and viewing area (as well as animal visibility) on people’s behaviour
Chester Zoo’s Assam Haathi Project: This project was set up and is managed and coordinated by Chester Zoo staff. Research to reduce elephant-human conflicts is carried out in Assam, where one of the biggest populations of Asian elephants remains. Elephant movements and behaviour is monitored and recorded in order to better understand the nature of these conflicts. Project partner is the local NGO Ecosystems-India. The project also operates at a village level. In cooperation with selected communities the human-elephant conflicts are tried to be reduced by implementing various mitigation methods such as trip-wires, watchtowers, chilli smoke, etc.
Chester Zoo funds and supports IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group activities and provides specialist technical support to other elephant facilities in South Asia.
Every year grants are also given to student elephant projects through the Richard Hughes Scholarship.
All involved companies are situated in the UK, except Pangea Rocks. Most of the building material, e.g. sands and stones, are sourced from local areas.
|59K + description||87K|
|Entrance area to ‘Elephants of the Asian Forest’ (2)|
|©Chester Zoo, Matthias Papies, 2006|