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Danish Nature Park exhibit - Prehistory of Denmark

Discussion in 'Fantasy Zoos' started by Agalychnis, 13 Feb 2015.

  1. Agalychnis

    Agalychnis Active Member

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    Hello, folks!

    For a while, I've had this idea about a safari exhibit with animals from Danish prehistory (from approx. 8000-2000 years ago). I would like to hear what you people think of this idea.

    The exhibit would feature a variety of mammalian megafauna in a setting with mixed forest, steppe and wetlands. It would be a drive-through with a guide, and outside the exhibit would be a museum exhibiting how people in Stone Age Denmark lived their daily lives. The museum would appeal to a variety of people in my target group (schools, families and the elderly), especially schools and families with children.

    In the drive-through safari exhibit:

    As both the tarpan (European wildhorse) and aurochs went extinct hundreds of years ago, I've decided to use Tauros cattle and Heck horses in their place. There would also be red deer, moose/elk (Alces alces), wisent and wild boar in the exhibit.

    To create a very special atmosphere, I've thought about whether European brown bears would fit into this mix? They're probably one of the least carnivorous large carnivorans, with more than 90% of their diet being vegetarian. Also, the exhibit would be many hectares/acres in size to allow the hoofstock to graze semi-naturally, and therefore aggression would not be much of an issue. I've also seen an exhibit with European brown bears and muskoxen together in Ree Park in Denmark, and their scale was a lot smaller than what I've been thinking about.

    Would it be possible to mix bears into the exhibit?

    Also, would it be possible to mix red foxes and European badgers into it, as those two live together in harmony in the wild? And what about roe deer?

    As for the wetlands in the prehistoric exhibit: Would it be possible to have EITHER European beavers OR European otters in the lakes and streams? (They would not live peacefully together, as otters eat young beavers).

    I'm looking forward to hear what you think! :)
     
  2. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    Mixing big bears with large ungulates isn't usually a good idea. And not just because of ungulates occasionally falling prey to the bears; I'd be worried about the bears getting attacked by moose and other aggressive ungulates, especially during calving season. I'm surprised that the musk ox / bear mix works, but I haven't seen the exhibit in person to judge fairly. I know that American black bears have been kept together with American bison and North American elk in American facilities, and Safaripark Hodenhagen keeps this bear species together with several exotic ungulate species, but I'd be careful to recommend such mixes.
    ZOOmoments - Mixed-species Exhibits with Ursids

    While I appreciate you going for Tauros cattle instead of the more commonly known Heck cattle, I doubt your "potpourri" mix would work due to interspecific aggression, (moose in particular), interbreeding (cattle + wisent), different dietary demands (again, moose) and many other problems well known from previous husbandry experiences with these species. One example: the digging of the wild boars and their creation of mud holes (also used by red deer and some of the bovines) will lead to the accummulation of mud that has a direct health effects (decrease of hoof wear, stagnant water, permanent destruction of soil/flora, increase of occurance and spread of parasites such as liver flukes, a serious cause of mortality among moose in captivity etc. etc.). Too many animal species together = too many serious problems.

    Tauros + heck horse/konik/exmoor pony = should work
    wild boar + red deer = could work
    wisent + wild boar = could work
    moose + compatible other moose = could work
    wild boar + red deer in a vast exhibit = could work
    brown bear + fox species = could work

    All wildy mixed together: nope

    Once you have free-ranging beavers, flooding and fallen trees will be part of your park. Free-ranging otters will soon be gone into the wild.

    Large exhibits do not automatically mean that there will be no aggression. Animals tend to aggregate within certain areas of a habitat (feeding lots, water holes, mud holes, salt licks, etc.), with interspecific conflicts and soil destruction intensifying within these areas.

    European badgers tolerate red foxes in the wild, but do not seem to overly eager to interact (must be that foxy smell ;) ). I doubt the mix would work without interspecific aggression. Red foxes are prone to developing stereotypic behaviour in captivity; an aspect one might consider when displaying the species.

    Speaking of display: how would you make sure that the visitors sees the smaller carnivores when introduced into the vast exhibit? And how should the staff keep track of them? And the price for a fox-, badger-, bear-, boar-, bovine-proof combined large fencing system-oh my!

    Roe deer can be kept in captivity, but like moose, their special dietary demands must be met. The other negative aspects mentioned above apply to them, too.

    I doubt that roe deer, badgers, foxes, beavers and otters would make good drive-through species.
    In general, the current European wildlife lacks most of the enigmatic megafauna the average visitor expects. European wildlife parks do exist and are pretty popular, but usually struggle in direct competition with zoos displaying exotic megafauna.

    Therefore, your European prehistoric park would have to include some modern "replacement" species to cover up for the lack of prehistoric analogues (African lions instead of European cave lions, Spotted hyenas instead of Cave hyenas, White rhinos instead of Wooly rhinos etc.), requiring to invest in indoor housing.

    In general, drive-through zoos / safari parks do not appear to have established themselves in Europe after their first appearance in the 1950s, when they were depicted as the future of zoos.

    Only a few have survived, and with more and more Europeans not having a car on their own, chances are slim that this trend is going to change significantly. Still, drive-through exhibits with visitors on guided large outdoor buses can be quite successful.

    So in general: a big potpourri European fauna mixed species exhibit would be neither well manageable nor attractive to the visitors. Offering one or two large drive-through exhibits with a few larger species and seperate exhibits for the rest might be more realistic, and has also been realized (for example in Chomutov, CZ).
     
    Last edited: 13 Feb 2015
  3. Agalychnis

    Agalychnis Active Member

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    Thanks for your reply, Batto :)

    I just had this as some crazy idea, andwanted to know if it would work.
     
  4. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    You're welcome, and not the first one to come up with such an idea. ;)
     
  5. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Great concept, resembles some nature parks and prehistoric villages in Germany. Small mammals would not work well - most are nocturnal. But you could mix large ungulates together, and bears and wolves in a second enclosure.

    One zoo book I read long ago had a conceptual plan of 'Pleistocene Zoo'. It would recreate Ice Age Europe with deer, elk, bison, brown bears etc., but also reindeer, musk oxen, saiga antelope, spotted hyenas and lions. Not all in one enclosure, naturally. :)
     
  6. temp

    temp Well-Known Member

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    These two species have never been kept at Ree Park and consequently they've not been mixed either. The brown bear is far too carnivorous and capable of tackling even very large prey; I can't imagine any zoo trying this species with ungulates because it would be a definite failure. You're probably thinking about American black bear mixed with bison at Ree, and this has been a success: http://www.zoochat.com/423/north-america-american-black-bear-american-353299/

    Canids (wolves, foxes) and various bears have sometimes been mixed with some levels of success, but as far as I know the only bears that ever have been mixed with high levels of success with ungulates are American black bears. Only with large, robust ungulates. Sloth and spectacled bears have also been tried, but I believe the results have been mixed.
     
  7. Agalychnis

    Agalychnis Active Member

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    I might have remembered wrong then; it is many years ago I was en Ree Park last time.
     
  8. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Danish.....

    ZSL tried Sloth Bears with Muntjac and Langurs, and I'm fairly sure something got eaten.