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AL's Speculative Zoo

Discussion in 'Speculative Zoo Design and Planning' started by amur leopard, 7 Jan 2022.

  1. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Hey all,

    Haven't ventured into this part of the forum for myself for a while now, so I thought I'd give it a go again. Each exhibit will be set out in such a way that includes species numbers and sexes, exhibit size (both on and off-show) and an in-depth description of the exhibit and husbandry of the species held. As such, a fair bit of research will go into each exhibit and taxa mentioned. My intention with this thread is also to show newer members largely what to aim for in their own threads, though of course it doesn't have to be this detailed nor follow this concept in any way.

    The zoo is set in Northern Germany near Wolfsburg, so in a fairly typical Northern European climate with mild winters and summers. The zoo will comprise species that are either relatively easily obtainable in European (in rare cases further abroad) zoos or in the pet trade. This will ensure that the zoo is at least vaguely realistic. Having said this, the zoo is not necessarily financially viable, given not only competition from nearby, larger zoos (Hanover, Magdeburg etc.) but also a lack of large, flagship species to draw in crowds. Having said this, the zoo has a fairly small land footprint and comprises predominantly herps and invertebrates.

    My first post describing exhibits will come shortly.

    AL
     
  2. IndianRhino

    IndianRhino Well-Known Member

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    Looking forward to seeing your work, I'm expecting to be amazed! :)
    You're definitely starting this thread with great intentions! ;)
    We really need a few people on the forum to set the expectations for what a fantasy zoo thread should look like and I'm very hopeful and confident your thread will inspire some others to improve their threads.
     
  3. Bengal Tiger

    Bengal Tiger Well-Known Member

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    Glad to see that you’re back, your old fantasy zoos was one of the reasons I joined the forum :) I have seen a lot of your work in old threads, and you have never failed to impress, I’m looking forward to seeing what you have planned.

    Maybe I can take a couple of tips from this, after all my last thread was deleted because I couldn’t finish my exhibit on time, which makes me feel kinda dumb (to be fair, I am dumb sometimes, and it is mainly on this forum for some reason, I guess online just brings out the stupid in me :eek:)
     
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  4. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Alaska

    The zoo begins on a path to the left of the entrance which winds upwards towards a small building. The area around the building has been mostly cleared of trees, leaving only a grassy terrain littered with rocks. To the side of the path are a series of informative panels, the first introducing Alaska's geography, the second its people and the third its wildlife. The path is on an incline so that the visitors work their way up to the building.

    First, however, they come to a large open wooden shelter. From here they have a view into an exhibit wedged between the shelter and the building. Visitors view the animals through three large panes of glass within the shelter. To the right of the viewing windows are multiple signs informing the visitors that the animals within the exhibit are Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus). The exhibit is 102 sqm in area, plus an indoor exhibit and separation enclosure adding to 26 sqm. The enclosure itself is fairly basic, incorporating the rocky, barren terrain already established when the visitors enter the area. It does however have a slightly elevated area under which the burrow is located. Around 5 fox-sized holes in the ground around it lead down into the burrow, which was built when a breeding female joined the lone male previously held at the zoo. In the event of offspring, an infrared camera is installed discreetly in the burrow so visitors can see the pups without disturbing them. While Arctic fox burrows are often complex in the wild, the burrow in the exhibit only has a single chamber to facilitate access if necessary as well as to easier keep an eye on the foxes. The foxes can easily hide away from visitors if they want, with viewing only on one side for visitors and plenty of hiding places within the rocks.

    As the visitors leave the viewing shelter, they continue up the path towards the building. The path veers away from the fence around the fox exhibit to allow for more privacy. Just before they enter the building, they spot a small aviary on the far side of the building. The the aviary is largely cylindrical in shape, rising to a height of 4.5 metres and covering an area of 27 sqm. Within are three species of passerine birds native to Alaska. The signage next to the exhibit tells visitors that the aviary has been named the 'Tongass Aviary' due to the species held all occurring within the same area of Alaska. The aviary is somewhat crammed with plant life, making it at times hard to spot all the birds within. Where trees are still developing, logs embedded vertically in the ground act as replacements. The first species that the visitors spot are the Bohemian waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus), all in a large group feeding off the berries of a juniper bush in the corner of the exhibit. When the fruit from the trees within the aviaries is finished or still growing, the waxwings' diet is supplemented with other fruit (young apples) and insects. The zoo is home to 3.4 waxwings. Another distinctive bird within the aviary is the Common crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), whose diet of pine cones and other seeds resulted in their odd bills. The zoo's crossbills are predominantly fed seeds to avoid competition for food with the other birds. Only 1.2 crossbills are kept at the zoo. Finally, visitors spot a more elusive Pine grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) in the top of the exhibit on a feeding tray, where keepers leave it buds and seeds to eat. Only a single male Pine grosbeak is kept at the zoo but the zoo hopes to welcome more in the near future.

    Visitors can then enter the Alaska Building by double doors. They find themselves in a small room (6m by 3m). To their right is a large pane of glass giving onto a small indoor exhibit for Northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus) of around 11 sqm. A pair of skylights allow a limited amount of plant life within the exhibit - just a couple of shrubs, plus a series of vertical logs to simulate a forest. Attached to one of the logs is a nestbox for the squirrels. The interior of the box is lined with soft materials such as lichen and moss, and an infrared camera hidden within generates a live stream of the inside of the nestbox, allowing visitors to see the squirrels even when they aren't active without disturbing them. Behind the exhibit is a pair of off-show holdings. 1.2 squirrels are kept at the zoo, with a rotation system in place. The off-show exhibits are each around 2 sqm in size, but the squirrels are rotated regularly. On the left wall of the room is a number of signs introducing the aviary to come in the next room. The signs inform visitors about the Inupiat people, and tells them about their culture and way of live next to the Bering Strait. This particular people are chosen for the signage because the next aviary, the Norton Sound aviary, is named after a Bay that is within Inupiat territory.

    Visitors pass over the sanitation mat to decrease chances of the spread of bird flu, then enter the exhibit through a pair of wooden double doors. They find themselves on an elevated walkway in a noisy room. The walkway passes over a fairly deep area of water (around 1.75 metres) so security measures are in place such as a particularly high and secure barrier all along the walkway as well as nets on both sides to stop anybody from falling in. To the right side of the room is a mock rock cliff face. Plenty of nooks and crags in the cliff face allow space for 3.3 Common murres (Uria aalge). A small rocky land area gives way to a fairly deep 'ocean' area. This allows the birds to dive in. A wave machine simulates the choppy water that these birds would typically live around. They share the exhibit with 2.4 Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) and 2.3 Spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri). The indoor aviary is around 53 sqm in area and multiple large skylights allow light into the exhibit.

    Visitors pass through another pair of double doors to exit the indoor aviary and into the outdoor exhibit for the same seabirds. This time, there are no cliffs for the guillemots and instead an area of beach and then a grassy ridge on which the eider nests are situated. They consist of patches of grass on the ridge that have been ripped away to form a small crater within which the eggs are eventually laid and hatched. The total area of the outdoor aviary is 93 sqm, so the seabirds have a total of 146 sqm between the two exhibits. Visitors view the outdoor aviary from a wooden boardwalk and the exhibit is entirely netted over to allow the waterfowl to fly.

    And that's it for Alaska! Below is a somewhat poorly done schematic, with shaded areas being keeper areas (accessed by a door just behind the building and then enclosures labelled. The arrows show the direction of visitors going through the exhibit.

    41438778-C68A-4CF6-B79A-DA466EB6EAF5.jpeg
     
  5. HungarianBison

    HungarianBison Well-Known Member

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    Incredibly detailed, as everything that AL does.
    Only 11 days after the beginning of 2022, I already have three candidates for the Thread of the year competition (this thread, TLD's one about his zoo guides and Lintworm's top 100 European exhibits thread). This seems to be one of the best years of Zoochat content-wise:)
     
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  6. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Sonora House

    This installment has a few more species than the previous one, particularly in the plant realm. Visitors enter a large greenhouse, with ceilings and walls made entirely out of a steel framework and large glass panels between them. Temperature and humidity are controlled in the building, and the change is noticeable upon entering from the more temperate German weather. The building has a total area of 1350 square metres and a ceiling height of 9 metres. This allows space for an elevated wooden walkway that allows visitors to observe arboreal species from a higher vantage point, as well as giving a nice view over the building.

    Upon entering, visitors are greeted with a fork in the path. Both paths take them around an area in which they can observe the various cacti and succulents as well as grasses native to the North American deserts. The plant-life is interspersed with boulders and a small keeper path made of stepping stones through the garden allows for easy care of the plants without damaging them in the process. A list of some of the species present in the garden is below:

    Pilosocereus glaucochrous
    Carnegiea gigantea
    Stenocereus gummosus
    Aloe zebrina
    Didierea trollii
    Stenocereus alamoensis
    Hatiora salicornioides
    Mammillaia bombycina
    Thelocactus setispinus
    Pilosocereus chrysocanthus
    Yucca queretaroensis
    Echinocactus grusonii
    Opuntia santa-rita
    Rhipsalis pachyptera
    Consolea falcata
    Pachycereus pringlei

    Visitors eventually move on having appreciated the extent and variety of desert plantlife, with signage emphasising that deserts are far from barren, sandy plains and support an immense number of highly-adapted and interesting plant species. Approaching another fork in the path, visitors come across a pair of small terraria between two large boulders. The top one houses the Yellow devil scorpion, Paravaejovis confusus. These venomous arachnids are housed in an approximately 1.5 square metre terrarium, with a large piece of bark for a hide. A couple of rocks, some dry substrate and a small water dish complete the exhibit. 2.0 scorpions are housed within this particular terrarium, since they are around the same size so are able to live communally without risk of cannibalism. The large exhibit allows them lots of privacy and hiding places.

    The exhibit directly below houses a lone female Rio Grande gold tarantula, Aphonopelma moderatum. She is housed in a less arid exhibit, with the substrate being soil and a small pocket of plantlife growing in the corner of the exhibit thanks to a small lamp. The spider is fairly old so doesn't tend to burrow as much as a younger specimen, but about 12cm of substrate is given to allow her to burrow freely. A cork tube is installed underground next to the visitor viewing window to allow her to burrow with ease and in view of the visitors if she wants. She also has a large hide of wood and bark, as well as plenty of other hiding places in her 1.5 square metre exhibit.

    Visitors turn left into a dead-end pathway. 3.5 metres above them is the aforementioned elevated wooden walkway, which will be properly described later on. The path is surrounded with large boulders and the walkway above casts it into shadow, meaning that the only light comes from the pathways behind and the exhibits around the path. To the visitors' left is a large netted aviary draped over a wooden frame, housing a pair of Turkey vultures, Cathartes aura. These large raptors have two aviaries - one within the greenhouse and the other outside. The indoors aviary is 79 sqm in area, and imitates a rocky canyon. The back of the exhibit is covered in rockwork except a small flap through which the vultures can access their outdoor exhibit. The rest of the exhibit consists of boulders, a dead Saguaro cactus, a fallen tree, a wooden cart and a couple of barrel cacti. Just to the right of this exhibit is a near identical set-up for a male Ferruginous Hawk, Buteo regalis, also simulating a canyon. A couple of small shrubs and a wooden wheel with broken spokes complete the hawk's exhibit, which is otherwise similar to the vulture habitat. Both exhibits are very tall and rise to the top of the greenhouse, allowing them to be viewed by visitors on the elevated walkway directly above.

    The visitors turn back up the pathway and spot another couple of small terraria embedded between two large boulders. The top one is for a lone Giant Sonoran centipede, Scolopendra heros. It has ample substrate to burrow in and the exhibit is largely semi-arid, with a few pieces of wood and a couple of rocks.
    Just below it is an exhibit for a male Giant whip scorpion, Mastigoproctus giganteus. The large specimen is housed in an arid exhibit, with dry soil substrate allowing them to burrow. Pieces of park and half a cart-wheel adorn the exhibit. Both the vinegaroon and the centipede are fed crickets as well as the occasional roach for the larger centipede.

    Visitors then exit the dead-end pathway and turn left, rounding a boulder and coming to another fork in the path. Turning left once more, they pass the last pair of small terraria on their right. These two are the largest of the lot and house two very different species. The top terrarium is around 2 sqm in area and houses a large group of Desert ironclad beetles, Asbolus verrucosus. They are housed in an arid exhibit with sandy substrate and are fed rotting vegetables and fruit left by other animals in the zoo, along with the occasional cricket or mealworm treat. A small rockwork ledge allows children to view the higher terrarium without needed their parents' help.

    The terrarium below that houses the Western desert tarantula, Aphonopelma chalcodes. It is quite a low terrarium, with not much height but around 2 sqm in area nonetheless. It houses a large female, who spends most of her time partially visible in her bark hide. A small water dish, some rocks and a rotting branch adorn the exhibit, and the substrate is fairly dry, only moistened once a week to allow for potential burrowing habits.

    The visitors once again enter the shadow of the walkway above. To the visitors' left is another terrarium, but much larger than either. It is around 4 sqm in area and houses a single Cactus deermouse, Peromyscus eremicus, with a pair rotated between the on-show exhibit and off-show holding. The exhibit is intended to simulate the desert at night, with three infrared lights illuminating the exhibit at angles such that the entire exhibit is visible. Within the exhibit are a couple of dead shrubs, a large rotting trunk leaning against the rockwork at the back of the exhibit. The terrarium appears to go on beyond a large boulder, creating the illusion of a larger habitat. The mice are fed seeds and the occasional insect to supplement their diet. Moving on, the visitors reach another fork in the path. The path straight ahead leads out of the building, so they turn right onto a path that passes parallel to and directly under the wooden walkway. However, a hole in the centre of the walkway above lets a shaft of light through into the pathway below. This, together with a pair of massive boulders lining either side of the walkway, creates the illusion that the visitors are plunged into a thin canyon. After about 7 metres of canyon they reach a small clearing with two exhibits on either side, both for the same species. The exhibits are very tall just like those for the vultures and hawks, allowing for lots of climbing space for a group of 1.2 Ringtail, Bassariscus astutus. Since the ringtails are often far above the ground in the enclosure, visitors rarely spot them from ground level, so the exhibits will be more fully described from the walkway perspective just a bit later on.

    Visitors turn right and again find themselves at a fork. A flight of wooden stairs just to the left takes that back around and up to the wooden walkway above, while the path continues through the ground level of the building straight ahead. They go up the stairs and come again to the same two exhibits for Ringtails, but viewed from a higher vantage point. It is much easier to see the ringtails from this perspective. One exhibit consists of a number of shrubs and rocks at ground level, as well as a large, barren tree and some rockwork. The other imitates the entrance to a mine shaft, with a small wooden mining cart, some small rail tracks and a few tools. Otherwise a few criss-crossing dead logs and a large boulder complete the exhibit. The most unusual part of the exhibit however is the overhead pathway for the ringtails to move from one exhibit to the other. The entrances to the pathway on either side can be opened or closed by keepers, allowing them to regulate which ringtails are in which enclosure. This gives each Ringtail a greater area to roam, resulting in a large exhibit of 53 sqm in total for the three ringtails.

    Continuing along the walkway, visitors pass around the hole letting light through to the pathway below and come to the upper viewing for the hawks and vultures, whose exhibit has already been described. The vultures are breeding and they have laid their eggs on a barren rock ledge in view of the visitors. Eventually, having observed both raptor species from the higher vantage point for a while, the visitors turn back, passing the ringtails again and descending the stairs back to ground level. They go straight ahead, coming to another netted exhibit. Here are two species of bird, both well adapted to the desert life but in very different ways. The exhibit is slightly elevated to allow space for the burrows of the Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia. They have three burrows, one of which is visible through a glass viewing window and the other two of which can be viewed via a pair of livestreaming cameras. This allows the visitors to see the owls in their burrows without greatly compromising the owls' privacy. The burrows are lined with dung and other soft materials. Meanwhile the other inhabitant of the exhibit is the reason why the aviary is so long and thin - the Greater roadrunner, Geococcyx californianus. These fast birds share the exhibit with the owls but avoid the burrows due to the risk of tripping. Their area of the exhibit is typically that with a couple of barrel cacti, a wooden cart and a few rocks strewn around the enclosure. The exhibit is 32 sqm in area in total, with just over 3 metres in vertical space.

    The visitors move on, walking around a large boulder in the middle of the pathway. They come to another large terrarium, this time for a snake species - the Sidewinder rattlesnake, Crotalus cerastes. A single male is on-show, with two female behind the scenes. The exhibit consists of an arid habitat, with dry, sandy substrate and a couple of rotting branches, a piece of bark and a pig skull (simulating a peccary skull. The snakes are fed mice. The exhibit has an area of around 5 sqm.

    Next to this exhibit is another aviary, this time with more height but an area of 27 sqm. This exhibit holds three perhaps more unexpected species. The habitat comprises a couple of dry trees, a pair of barrel cacti, a shrub and a few logs, as well as a two-chambered burrow viewable through the viewing window. The burrow has three entrances, all hidden at the base of the shrub. The occupant of the burrow is a lone Merriam's kangaroo rat, Dipodomys merriami. A third chamber is not viewable by the public in order to give the rodents privacy. Along with the lone rodent, the exhibit is shared by 2.3 Scaled quails, Callipepla squamata, who use the numerous grass clumps around the exhibit for cover and 2.1 White-winged doves, Zenaida asiatica, who often perch on the cacti or the tree. The birds are both fed sunflower seeds and occasionally fruits.

    Finally, the visitors come to the last exhibit in the house. It is another terrarium resembling that of the Sidewinder rattlesnake but this time home to two species of lizard. The exhibit is covered on one half with shingle and shrubs and on the other side with a series of flat rocks beneath a lamp for basking. The two species exhibited are the Desert horned lizard, Phrynosoma platyrhinos and the Baja California rock lizard, Petrosaurus thalassinus. Their exhibit is sizeable, with an area of around 5.5 sqm, allowing ample space for the two species to coexist peacefully.

    Visitors then move on past the desert tarantulas, beetles, mice, hawks and exit the house. To their left are the outdoor aviaries for the hawks and vultures.

    Below is a map of the house to help with picturing the exhibits. The top diagram is of the ground floor level of the house while the bottom diagram shows the wooden walkway level of the house. The thicker blue line indicates the walls of the building, while shaded areas are keeper areas. Below is a key for the numbers on the map:

    1 - Yellow devil scorpion and Rio Grande gold tarantula terraria
    2 - Giant Sonoran centipede and Giant Whip scorpion terraria
    3 - Cactus deermouse
    4 - Western desert tarantula and Desert ironclad beetle terraria
    5 - Baja California rock lizard and Desert horned lizard terrarium
    6 - Greater roadrunner and Burrowing owl aviary
    7 - White-winged dove, Sclaed quail and Merriam's kangaroo rat aviary
    And the terrarium just to the right of the latter aviary is the exhibit for the Sidewinders.

    A8512AAE-6EFD-4D79-BAAE-6172DA150693.jpeg

    And that's it for the Sonora House! Next will be a series of posts on the Caribbean islands, compising three different exhibits focusing on separate islands.
     
  7. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Isn't that an African species?
     
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  8. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, thanks for pointing that out - Must have got it confused with something else.
     
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  9. Haliaeetus

    Haliaeetus Well-Known Member

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    Where did you get your plant list??
    And how many Owls and Roadrunners live in the aviary ? Only one single individual of each species or more ?
    Finally, your spider and scorpion terraria are very large.
     
    Last edited: 17 Jan 2022
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  10. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    I acquired my plant list through the website of the NY botanical gardens along with a couple of other sources but it seems a couple of errors slipped through the net.
    Oh sorry for not mentioning, just the one male roadrunner and 2.1 burrowing owls.
    Indeed they are large, but I just thought I'd give tarantulas and other inverts a bit more space than they generally have in zoos and captivity in general.