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Chester Zoo Developments/Visit - 04/03/2010

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by SMR, 4 Mar 2010.

  1. SMR

    SMR Well-Known Member

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    A brief report of some ongoing zoo developments.

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    Work is under way on converting the California sea lion pool for giant otters. The pools have been drained and cleaned, but neither had yet been filled for a deep digging area as we were speculating. The former sea lion house is being developed and larger retaining walls being built between the pools and beach. There was once a pathway along this side of the pool, and now that some of the bushes have been cleared there is more land area than one would think. Around the zoo, all the signs still point to the "Sealions" [sic] and I did hear a few people express some disappointment when arriving at the pool.

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    There were ongoing earthworks at the site of the old otter/coati enclosure next to the Oakfield. The hedge and fence that was at the back of the enclosure has been removed and the area opened up to the Oakfield lawn. The signs say "Oakfield Development" but I've still no idea what it's going to be, although it looks a lot like another lawn given the strips of turf being laid. This area is soon to become home to domestic farm animals as part of the "Cheshire Experience" so I can't imagine anything other than temporary structures here.

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    And speaking of lawn, the area behind the Fountain Shop looks to be complete. The enclosure that has been occupied by anteaters, capybara, penguins, porcupines (to name a few) and was once the children's zoo, is bedding in well. It looks like there'll be more grass where the bird house once was, in an avenue between the bushes. The area where the last set of circular aviaries stood now matches the other, it's bark and bushes.

    The Otter Fountain has been cleaned and small trees dotted randomly around the Fountain Lawn. The few beds have been planted with a smattering of exotic trees and look incredibly bare. The whole area is totally lacking in imagination and has no educational or aesthetic value whatsoever. In fact, I think it actually looked better as bare lawn (strike me down).

    It suddenly hit me that this is now a huge area of the zoo with only a few animal enclosures. I can think of many zoos that would give their right arms to have so much space to waste.

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    In the same area, Marmot Mania is now Mongoose Mania and the conversion is complete, it's just awaiting the mongooses. Essentially it's the same, except for enrichment and sand substrate rather than grass. The buildings on the south side that were between it and the stable block have gone, and there's a large tarmac area instead.

    Asha was outside and looked to have settled down, the pacing and calling had subsided.

    I didn't have time to spend in the West Zoo, except for the Tsavo National Park Bird Safari, which looked beautiful in the sun and in late afternoon was really quiet. Lots of birds on show, some of which walked over my feet. I can make a brief video of this if anyone is interested. Oh, and the hammerkopf is still building that massive nest.

    PS. More photos going in the Chester Zoo gallery.
     
    Last edited: 6 Mar 2010
  2. Nisha

    Nisha Well-Known Member

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    Was Iblis (new male Asiatic Lion) out today?
     
  3. SMR

    SMR Well-Known Member

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    I only saw the female, Iblis was shut indoors.
     
  4. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for a Brilliant update- not an animal to be seen but an excellent summary and photos of current happenings.

    The old Sealion Pool looks to have been quite shallow really.
     
  5. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it's great to see pictures in an update and to get a very clear idea of what is happening.
     
  6. SMR

    SMR Well-Known Member

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    Apologies for the lack of animal photos, it just worked out that way. I could post a red panda shot, but I think everyone has probably seen enough of them!

    The original pool had the same area, but wasn't divided. At some point it was drained and the walls around the edge and across the middle built. I don't know the date, but there are some photographs in the zoo's jubilee commemorative publication of 1984, and it is clear that it was much deeper than it is now. The wall across the middle looks to be a good six feet, although the bottom is of a similar shape and concrete.

    I wonder if the depth was reduced when the enclosure was altered to become sea lion beach?
     
  7. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    That's just the point- it didn't need any animal photos.;)
     
  8. bongorob

    bongorob Well-Known Member

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    The sealion pool was rebuilt over the winter of 1970/71.

    The original pool was 12 feet deep and covered an area of 8000 square feet, and was fed constantly by an arterian well. One problem was that it had clay sides and cotinual water movement caused sediment to be suspended in the water, making viewing extremely difficult.

    In 1970 there was a heatwave and water was diverted to other areas of the zoo. As a result the water level dropped and bacteria flourished, making the sealion very unhealthy.

    The decision was made to build two pools, one 7 feet deep and the other 5 feet deep, capacity 150,000 gallons and 100,000 gallons respectively. The sides of the pools were concrete instead of clay.
     
    Last edited: 5 Mar 2010
  9. SMR

    SMR Well-Known Member

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    Rob, thank you for the additional information, from looking at the photographs I would have guessed that the pool had been split earlier, but I suppose it was almost forty years ago!

    My guess about the depth was fairly accurate, but it's a lot shallower now. Do you know when that change occurred and why? It certainly doesn't look as though it's happened in the last couple of weeks.
     
  10. Susan Humphreys

    Susan Humphreys Well-Known Member

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    One of the changes I'm interested in is the removal of the aviaries near where the otters where. In Zoo News that came today it said the birds from this area are now in a new off sho. Area behind the jaguar house but some species may go back on display in the future. Does anyone know what the plans are for the vasa parrots? They are one of my favourites. Do they prefer being off show? Do they work in a mixed bird exhibit? Thanks :)
     
  11. Maguari

    Maguari Never could get the hang of Thursdays. Premium Member

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    A few thoughts and updates from today.

    Not too many changes from SMR's report below; the sea lion to Giant Otter conversion is well underway and some large sections of concrete tube were being put in place (see gallery).

    No sign for the Black Lion Tamarins and Pied Tamarin exhibit labelled as empty. The copy of the zoo magazine waiting for me when I got home confirmed that the Pieds were taken offshow while some maintenance was carried out and have since started mating again; rather than risk disturbing them the zoo is going to keep them offshow and bring in 'another callitrichid species' to replace them.

    Mangrove Monitors now on show in the old tree shrew exhibit in the Elephant House.

    All the illuminated signs in the Twilight Zone have been re-done, so there are shiny new signs for African Pygmy Dormice, Giant Hissing Cockroaches, Turkish Spiny Mice and all three bat species (the first time the Livingstone's have been labelled within the main exhibit).

    The Tropical Realm works are not quite completed - they appear to be refencing the Galapagos Tortoise area.

    And we spotted an unlabelled (and not yet confidently ID'd) fruit dove in Islands in Danger.


    On the drive home I was having a think about the situation with all the recent demolition work and the lawns and gaps and offshow species.

    Much as I miss the birds, reptiles and other animals that have been taken off-show, I can't deny that the exercise has achieved it's goal - the zoo does look much better without those old vivs and aviaries. It's left gaps that need to be filled, and I always mourn the loss of such long-standing structures, but visually I can't deny it is much better.

    They just need to carry on building and get some more aviaries up for more species to come back on show!
     
  12. ZooMania

    ZooMania Well-Known Member

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    I've been wondering what was happening with the Pied Tamarins. Shame to see they're off-show for the forseable future but a nice prospect to get another callithrid. Good to hear the Monitors have moved too the Elephant House too.

    Im really liking the new Iguana enclosures. Really nice looking and I got some good views of all 3 species. Islands In Danger on the whole is looking a lot better now if you ask me, especially now the Pigeon aviary has some changes with the species.

    Asian Fairy Bluebirds seem to be popping up everywhere now. 2 pairs in Realm Of The Red Ape and another at the Realm. That Timor Sparrow flock is huge now aswell.

    Hawk Owls seem a nice addition aswell.

    Recently ive decided to abanddon my usual route of visiting the West Zoo first before the East Zoo and have instead headed to the East Zoo first.
    This seems to be a good idea as it has given me fantastic views of the Bush Dogs, a species which before hand I rarely saw.
    Last week aswell, I saw the Babirusa for the first time since they moved to RORA and also saw the Lilochichla and the Grosbeak at the Asian Aviaries. Do I get a ZooChat first for this :D ?

    Hmm. What was suppose to be a passing observation about the Tamarins has turned into me noting my own observations from last week. Sorry:(
     
  13. bongorob

    bongorob Well-Known Member

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    1.1 Superb Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus superbus)
     
  14. Bele

    Bele Well-Known Member

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    I thought that the latest edition of 'Z magazine' was much more informative than others of late with a lot of articles on developments at the Zoo . I almost felt as if there were direct responses to some of the points raised on Zoochat .

    A long interview with Mark Pilgrim on recent developments states - ' There has been a fair bit of demolishing and closing down of our out of date enclosures around the zoo this year which I suspect may have raised a few eyebrows amongst our regular visitors and members . ... That said , what we will be doing is replacing these areas with a number of exciting new developments . '

    I also picked out that there is a Giant Otter in quarantine in the old Orang House with the second due in April . A good long article is about the management of the Orangs and Gibbons in RORA and biogs. of all the Orangs and Gibbons . It seems that Tuan the new male Bornean Orang took to 46 year old Martha as soon as they were introduced and mated with her many times without success .

    Another exciting species expected is a pair of Brazilian Bushmaster snake bred at Jacksonville Zoo . It claims this will be a UK Zoo first exhibition of the species .
     
  15. SMR

    SMR Well-Known Member

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    I thought the latest issue of Z had improved yet further in the area of zoo news. I'm sure they have received a lot of feedback on the demolitions - not just from Zoochat members but also on the ground - and it's good that it is being directly addressed. One of the recurring themes is that the zoo doesn't tell people what's going on, so this is definitely a step in the right direction.

    My heart sank at the thought of climbing ropes all across the Silver Jubilee garden though, that was a new revelation.
     
  16. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    I haven't had my Z yet; but I was at the Zoo today for the first time since last summer. On the whole, I agree that most of what has gone was well past its best, but the old Bird House has left a real gap in the middle of the zoo. I wasn't really impressed by the changes to the Tropical Realm, but they aren't complete yet, so I can't make a final judgement.
    I overheard a small piece of news from some staff talking together. The young Rhinoceros hornbill is going to change places with the birds from the Chinese aviary opposite. The hornbill's old aviary (beside the snowy owls) now has a new roof of finer mesh.
    I saw Iblis the new lion, he looked a little unsettled and has some minor marks from his trip, but he will be a very handsome chap. I didn't expect to see two Indian rhinos, but one was in the pool area (which had been fenced off) and the other in the roughly circular off-show paddock immediately behind the pool - which you can see fairly well from the new bridge, at least until the trees between the fences come into leaf. I couldn't distinguish the sexes, but the off-show animal looked significantly bigger). Both had fairly worn-down horns, so I didn't think either was Baatschi, but I could be wrong :).
    Photos to follow eventually, but I having linked hardware and software problems at the moment, so don't hold your breath.

    Alan
     
  17. taun

    taun Well-Known Member

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    Unless Baatchi has moved on already it sounds like you saw her today. She lost her horn late last year.

    Wish I had paid a visit today now!

    Also, looking forward to the photographs if you get around the tech problems ;)
     
  18. Nisha

    Nisha Well-Known Member

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    New indian Rhino is Batschii's half brother Baabuu. He moved down from Edinburgh on Wednesday. Batschii should be going to Madrid in the next few weeks and Tanaya will arrive from San Diego WAP later this year. :)
     
  19. Pt123

    Pt123 Well-Known Member

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    Alan, you saw Baatschi and Babuu. Baatschi leaves for Madrid on Wednesday. As far as I am aware no date has been set for Tanaya's arrival yet.
     
  20. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the answers. I guess it was Babu in front and Baatchi off-show. I have just finished processing a nice shot of Iblis for the Gallery. My Z has now arrived and I agree it's a big improvement, with information I didn't know already: I'll be interested to see the bushmasters.

    Alan