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Emmen Zoo Dierenpark Emmen/Emmen Zoo - A goodbye

Discussion in 'Netherlands' started by korhoen, 28 Dec 2015.

  1. korhoen

    korhoen Well-Known Member

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    December 31st marks not only the end of the year 2015, it also marks the end of an era in Dutch zoo history. On this day the zoo in the city centre of Emmen, Dierenpark Emmen, will close forever after 80 years in the same location. It is being replaced by a brand new zoo with the name “Wildlands Adventure Zoo Emmen” on the outskirts of the city. Dierenpark Emmen, or Noorder Dierenpark Emmen as it was called until a few years ago, has long been one of the best zoos of the Netherlands but since 20 years or so, the zoo has been forgotten about a bit. Dierenpark Emmen was also the first zoo I visited as a child, about 17 years ago. This zoo sparked my interest in animals and zoos and therefore I hold it very dear. For this reason and because I think this excellent zoo, that has been very important for the Dutch zoo scene, shouldn’t be forgotten about, I decided to write this walkthrough as a sort of goodbye.

    A little disclaimer: English is not my first language, so there may be some grammar mistakes in the text. Also, if you have any questions or would like to see additional pictures of certain enclosures or displays, please ask.

    The walkthrough will be divided into 5 parts. I’ll start this walkthrough with a general description of the zoo and its history. The last part of the walkthrough will be devoted to my personal opinions, thoughts and feelings. The photo’s in the text can also be found in the gallery.

    General description
    Dierenpark Emmen is located in Emmen, a small city with 57.000 inhabitants, which lies in the province of Drenthe, one of the 12 Dutch provinces and near the German border. The main part of the zoo lies right in the middle of the city, within walking distance from Emmens train station. In 2002 the zoo opened a second location outside of the city centre, about 500 meters from the main entrance. Because of the construction of the new zoo at the same location this secondary part can no longer be visited. The zoos main parking lot is also located at the secondary part of the zoo.

    The zoo is about 12 hectares in size and is divided into 4 continents: Africa, America, Asia and Australia. These continents are basically groups of enclosures for animals from the same continent. Alongside the enclosures in the continent areas there are several exhibits not belonging to a specific continent.

    History of the zoo

    The zoo in Emmen was opened in 1935 by W. Oosting. In the years after the Second World War the zoo slowly expanded and became the biggest tourist attraction of the northern Netherlands, but the sixties proved to be a difficult decade for the park. Visitor numbers dropped and there was not enough money for the regular maintenance of the park, let alone new projects. In 1970 the municipality of Emmen bought half of the shares of the zoo and at the same time Aleid Rensen-Oosting (the daughter of Mr. Oosting) and her husband, architect Jaap Rensen, took over the managment of the zoo from Mr. Oosting. They started renovating all the old, outdated enclosures and introduced a concept that was new to the Netherlands: instead of exhibiting animals of the same taxonomical group together (birdhouse, pachyderm house etc.), the Rensens started exhibiting animals from the same continent together. They also chose to exhibit less species than in the traditional zoos but the species they did exhibit were (are) kept in big groups and in big enclosures. When the Rensen family retired from the management of the park in 1995, the zoo was the second-best visited attraction in the Netherlands with an annual attendance of 1,7 million. In the 25 years the Rensen family lead the park, they did not only construct animal exhibits, but also a really large amount of educational displays and 3 museums in the park. In 1982 the park even received an European Museum of the Year Award (for special exhibitions). In 1995 the Rensens handed the management of the park over to Henk Hiddingh, who had been involved in the park since 1983. In the years following the retiring of the Rensen family few new exhibits were constructed in the zoo, until in 2002 a new part of the zoo was opened, 500 meters from the current main entrance. This brand new part of the zoo contained a huge new penguin exhibit, a guanaco exhibit and an educational display about water, among others. In 2003 a new enclosure for bison and moose was opened. These were the last new major exhibits that were opened until 2011. In 2010 the park got in severe financial problems because of very disappointing visitor numbers and the municipality of Emmen had to lend the zoo a large sum of money to keep the park open. A new director was appointed who had to fire a large number of employees. In 2011 a new lion enclosure was opened. In 2012 the constructing of the new park at the location of the extension part of the zoo began. The plans for the construction of a completely new park were already announced in 2007.

    This year, after exactly 80 years in the current location, the old park closes. On March 25th, 2016 the new park will open.

    Next part: Entrance to Africa House
     
    Last edited: 28 Dec 2015
  2. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Thanks for typing out your thoughts on Emmen Zoo and I'm already looking forward to reading the next section. I find it fascinating that the zoo attracted 1.7 million annual visitors in 1995 and yet has struggled since then. The two world-class zoos in The Netherlands (Arnhem and Rotterdam) have gone from strength to strength and yet Emmen is still regarded by zoo enthusiasts as a very impressive facility...and one that can hopefully be great once again in its new location.
     
  3. korhoen

    korhoen Well-Known Member

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    The main reason for their success in the 80s and 90s (and also the reason for the downfall in visitor numbers since then) was that the zoo build a new exhibit every year. This way the visitors could come back every year and see something new. When the Rensens retired, the new management failed to continue this policy. At the same time, zoos like Diergaarde Blijdorp and Burgers' Zoo kept developing. The few things that Emmen Zoo did develop were highly disappointing (more on that later), so Emmen couldn't keep up anymore and visitor numbers dropped.
     
  4. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Thank you korhoen for this goodbye. I've also very nice memories of this zoo which I regulary visited in its "high-days". In the last years I only visited it once but it still will alway keep a special place in my memonies.
    However, look also forwards to the new park and hope it will be as good as the "old"
    one !
     
  5. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    While I was aware in the back of my mind that the closure of the 'old' zoo was imminent, I didn't appreciate just how imminent it was - so thank you for the reminder, as well as for the account of the zoo.

    When I first started visiting a large number of European zoos, a quarter of a century ago, Emmen really stood out as being special, different. I don't think it would be pushing it to say that they were real front-runners: a lot of zoos were still looking pretty unimaginative at that time, and even 'good' zoos within a 200 mile radius of Emmen had ropey parts: Rotterdam, Cologne, Duisburg, Amsterdam, Arnhem. I think that what Emmen did then has been copied (and improved upon) by zoos across the Netherlands and Germany, meaning that its "specialness" has been diminished. As Korhoen suggests above, Emmen sort of stood still, and watched a whole load of other zoos gallop past. On my last visit there - in 2008 - I thought it was looking really tired, while having things on two different sites, on different sides of town, just didn't work.

    I must admit that I am really looking forward to visiting the 'new' zoo (and to reading the rest of this account!).
     
  6. korhoen

    korhoen Well-Known Member

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    Walkthrough part I – Entrance to Africa House
    The entrance to Dierenpark Emmen is located on a square, right in the middle of the city centre of Emmen. Besides the zoo’s ticket booths, a restaurant is also found on this square. The building in which this restaurant is located was completely destroyed during a big fire in 2012 which also destroyed most of the zoo’s archive but has since been rebuild. The part of the entrance square that is inside the zoo isn’t very special, except for the two big trees that are found here. The big trees and other vegetation that are found all over the zoo grounds are a very important aspect of this relatively small zoo, because they make the zoo seem bigger than it actually is.

    The entrance of the first exhibit of the park is located right next to the entrance of the park. This building contains the Biochron, a museum about evolution and the history of life on earth. This museum was opened in 1985 and combines fossils and other "lifeless" objects with living animals. The building consists of two "legs", connected through a tropical butterfly house. Between the "legs" is a large garden full of big and small boulders. The basement of the building boasts the zoo's aquarium.

    The first room of the museum is an introduction room. It explains what the museum is about and gives a lot of information about the process of fossilization. In the middle of the room, a large mammoth skull is on display. Another special object in this room is a genuine piece of hair, as well as a replica of "Dima", a well-preserved baby mammoth that was discovered in Russia in 1977. The "real" Dima lies in the natural history museum of St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and to get the replica of this mammoth, the zoo sent a letter to then-president of the USSR Andropov which led to the sending of the hair and the replica of the young mammoth to Emmen.

    The main exhibition starts with the origin of the planet, with signs explaining volcanism and several minerals and stones on display. After that the origin of life on earth is explained. This includes a tank with cyanobacteria and a display explaining the Urey-Miller experiments. The main route then continues into the basement of the building. The basement features the continuation of the main exhibition of the Biochron and a separate aquarium part.

    In the basement the main exhibition continues with the origin of life in seas, featuring a big, shallow pool with horseshoe crabs and a big tank with Atlantic lemon sharks. After the shark tank you walk through a dark corridor with some displays explaining life in the Carboniferous period. The main exhibition of the Biochron then continues upstairs.
    [​IMG]
    The main aquarium of the zoo is also located in this basement and starts with a small room with some tanks for freshwater fish including various cichlids, spotted gars and young giant arapaimas. After this you walk through a corridor with on one side a tank with blacktip reef sharks and pelagic stingrays and on the other side a lot of educational displays about sharks, including a television showing a part of “Jaws”. You then walk through a set of smaller rooms with a variety of smaller, mainly saltwater aquariums for species such as white-spotted puffer, orbicular batfish, red lionfish and spotted lobster. The walls of these rooms that don’t have an aquarium window in them, are packed with educational displays about a variety of subjects, including the evolution of cephalopods, endo- and exoskeletons in marine life and the ecology of coral reefs.
    [​IMG]
    Upstairs the main route continues into the Mesozoic room. This room features several large dinosaur skeletons and displays about dinosaur feeding and nesting behavior. Besides this, the room also features a terrarium for rhinoceros iguana and a tank with various species of sturgeon, including white sturgeon and Mississippi paddlefish (on my last visit sadly already gone from the zoo).

    The exhibition continues with the evolution of dinosaurs to birds, with a display about the similarities in anatomy between an ostrich and a bird-like dinosaur, among others. After this you walk past a display called “Darwin’s cabinet”, featuring an array of mounted species, to the tropical butterfly house.

    The tropical butterfly house is one of the exhibits Dierenpark Emmen is best known for (in the Netherlands at least). This long greenhouse is lushly planted and there are several streams and ponds. On the Biochron side of the house is a display about the life cycle of butterflies. A variety of tropical butterfly species fly through the house, including atlas moths, paper kites and blue morpho’s. A small number of non-butterfly species are also present in the house, the most striking of which are of course the emerald hummingbirds that are used to keep spiders and other insects at bay. The hummingbirds have bred several times in this house.
    [​IMG]
    After the butterflies, the main exhibition continues with the rise of the mammals. This part focuses on the success of mammals, their reproduction methods and the great variety of species they (we) have developed into. The exhibition features several skeletons of extinct mammals and a large wall with screens showing footage of mammals nursing their young.

    The last part of the main exhibition focuses on the evolution of man. It features replica’s of Australopithecus and a miniature replica of a Neanderthal camp. It also features exhibits for Belanger’s tree shrew and grey mouse lemur, as representatives of the earliest species of primate.

    The final part of the Biochron focuses on animals "made" by man. It features a display about the different breeding-forms of goldfish and a diorama showing all kinds of man-made breeding forms of dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and pigeons.

    Across the path from the exit of the Biochron lies a small square that holds, besides the zoos souvenir shop and an aviary with village weavers, the entrance to the Africa House. The Africa House was the first of the three continent houses the zoo build. These houses mostly show animals that are too small or sensitive for an outdoor enclosure, so the houses mostly show reptiles, invertebrates and fish, together with some small mammals or birds. The Africa House was opened in 1980. Originally, the building was not only home to African animals, but also held a natural history museum and an ethnological museum.

    When you enter the Africa House, you first arrive in a small room. This room used to be part of the natural history museum. Besides the entrance to the actual Africa House, this room also holds the indoor enclosure of the spurred tortoises that have their outdoor enclosure on the terrace next to the Africa House and the "Animal Experience". This is an attraction you walk through with 3D glasses on. I have not done this attraction myself, but classmates of mine said it felt like a bad trip.

    The Africa House has a very moist, tropical climate. The first exhibit you see upon entering is an aviary for a pair of silvery-cheeked hornbills. In front of the aviary is a stream with West-African mud turtles and helmeted turtles and across the path from the aviary is an aquarium with clawed frogs. You can then go down the stairs to the basement of the building that holds the exhibit for the zoos big group of naked mole-rats.
    [​IMG]
    After the basement the main route through the Africa House continues with a sizeable terrarium for royal python. After this terrarium you walk onto a bridge that leads over the main attraction of the house: the crocodile pond. On the right hand side of the bridge live the pair of slender-snouted crocodiles and on the left hand side of the bridge live the much smaller dwarf crocodiles. The crocs share their pond with cichlids and in the foliage surrounding the enclosures live various bird species, such as black crake and long-tailed glossy starling.
    [​IMG]
    You then enter a part with various smaller enclosures, for species such as blue lyretail, greater Madagascan day-gecko and African egg-eating snake, and a large enclosure for a group of dwarf mongooses. The last part of the Africa House is a wall with terrariums for various invertebrates.

    Part I – Thoughts and feelings
    The Biochron is the first thing you see when you enter the zoo and it immediately shows the thing that makes this zoo unique in my opinion: the museum-like educational displays. Evolution is a very interesting subject and I think the concept of the Biochron: showing the evolution of life through a combination of living and lifeless displays is very interesting and would make a great exhibit in any zoo, even as a stand-alone museum I think it would work. The problem with the Biochron however is that it hasn’t been updated in 20 years. Because of this, the displays aren’t interesting to the public anymore. The displays have too much text and too little to interact with to be exciting in this day and age. The things that can be interacted with, such as buttons that light something to emphasize it, don't work anymore. The surroundings of the displays are also too dark and "80s" in my opinion. If the Biochron had been updated regularly and had displays that are more “of this time” it would still be a major attraction, the subject of the museum is exciting enough.
    I’ve always really liked the Africa House. It has a nice variety of species and the exhibits are all spacious and well-furnished. There isn’t really anything to criticize here, except that the hornbill aviary is a bit invisible behind the thick foliage and that the building itself has a very 80s, retro feel to it, but that is a problem the entire zoo faces. The relatively new "Animal Experience" that has been build in the entrance portal to the Africa House is a complete waste of space and money in my opinion.
     
  7. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    What is overlooked in the current analysis here is that there was nothing infinitely wrong with the Rensen couple's concept of what Emmen Zoo - Noorderdierenpark should be.

    This essence and why the zoo was important for modern zoo development and continued evolution - for which duly thanks across Europe - was lost on the management that was installed and came in after they retired. The failed to provide similarly imaginative new zoo exhibits on site and to provide the general public with reasons to continue visiting in droves like the Rensens' could. Their educational theming was marvellous and the exhibitry and representativeness of the collection was exemplary.

    Those same failed management policies in my humble opinion are also at the heart of the current vision for and execution of establishing a new "Adventure Zoo" along the lines of ZOOM Gelsenkirchen or Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida. All at the expense of unimaginatively high costs to the community at large - for which entire zoos elsewhere both in-country and across Europe could be renovated fully and for which funding remains at best rather tight - and which the local region may never be able to fully recover .... (the old Emmen Zoo area was sold by the zoo at 65Mio and currently there is now vision what should replace it .... and how and who will fund it ... within a city center that is fast losing its economic driving force and where already shops are losing out massively and going bust and leaving big empty holes in the local shopping mall.

    One only has to look at concept design and outlay of the current ZOOM Gelsenkirchen and how boring a rather small number of animal species on a huge landscape will eventually do to visitor numbers (falling .... and falling) and the investment model that drives it forward and for which interest and loans must be paid back on time.

    As an aside: In a recent communique and big press interview in a countrywide paper the new "Adventure Zoo" park manager was quoted as saying that animals that failed to make to the grade were f.i. Colobus monkeys, flamingos as well as all the usual assorted "victims" like birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish and inverts and insects!!! and she cited them to be not "sexy" (if ever there was a worse PR / Marketing Dept. communication misjudgement ... in animal conservation and education ... there you have it!!). What replaces in animal collection at the new site wholly conforms to high profile Mammalia and mega vertebrates and socially large grouped species only and is hardly more than 100+ species for a huge parkland.

    Do not get me wrong, I wish the new Adventure Zoo in Emmen all the best, but I just cannot help but have some very serious and big reservations whether this concept and new zoo will ever fullfill its promise and make Emmen Zoo a really viable facility again in future.
     
  8. korhoen

    korhoen Well-Known Member

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    First of all, happy new year! Sorry this next post took so long, I was busy celebrating new year and after that the beginning of a new period in university took most of my time. Before I continue with the walkthrough, I’d like to mention that the zoo was officially closed last week, on the 31st of December. It feels very weird for me to actually have to write about this zoo in the past and not in the present anymore.

    Part 2 – The Wild West to the bears

    After exiting the Africa House, you walked around the "Paviljoen" restaurant and along the zoo's main playground. This playground is worth noting because it’s not only a playground with the mandatory slides and swings, it also had a large “tree” that had several educational displays and diorama’s where children could learn about animals in a playful manner.
    Across the path from the playground, a stairs took you up a wooden walkway that ran over the Wild-West paddock. This paddock was once inhabited by moose, wood bison, sandhill crane and various species of waterfowl. In the final months of the zoo the paddock was just home to a pair of Bactrian camels that lived here in expectation of completion of their new home in Wildlands. The separation enclosure of this exhibit was inhabited by a small group of collared peccary and an aviary for great grey owl was also part of the exhibit.
    [​IMG]
    Next to the playground was a small path that lead to one of Emmen's most unique exhibits: the Rat Sewer. This exhibit was basically a long, dark corridor themed as a city sewer with enclosures for brown rats on both sides. The corridor ended in a larger room that had as theme “unwanted guests”. The room was themed like an old shed and featured animals that are mostly found in and around old farms, like house mouse, black rats and polecats (replaced by ferrets in this exhibit). The route then went back up and ended in one of the stables of the zoo’s children’s farm. The zoo had quite a big children’s farm that did not only feature a large petting area with goats, chickens and kune kune pigs, but also a lot of education about domestic animals.

    After the children's farm the main path entered the South-American section of the zoo. The first animals you encountered here were the Humboldt penguins. These penguins used to be the main inhabitants of the dependence of the zoo, on the other side of the city centre. There, they lived in one of the biggest penguin enclosures found in any zoo. The number of penguins that lived in that enclosure was also a lot bigger than it is today. Since the building of the new zoo had started, the penguins inhabited a part of the Wild-West enclosure that used to be for the bison. This part was connected with the enclosure the penguins used to live in before they moved to the dependence in 2002 through a tunnel under the visitor path. This part had a large basin, the part on the other side of the path had the nests for the penguins.
    [​IMG]
    On the other side of the path from the penguins was the big island for the park’s group of Colombian black spider monkey’s. They shared their island with a breeding pair of crested screamers. The trees around the island were connected through ropes and were home to a group of black-capped squirrel monkeys that were allowed to roam freely.

    After the spider monkeys, the path entered a tunnel that lead into the South-American aviary. This large free-flight aviary was home to various species of South-American wading bird and waterfowl, such as Caribbean flamingo, scarlet and puna ibis, roseate spoonbills, boat-billed herons, inca tern, red shoveler, black-necked swan and chaco chachalaca. The aviary was very well planted and there were several streams and ponds in the aviary.
    [​IMG]
    The wooden walkway that ran through the aviary ended in a building. This building is called “Americasa” and was the South-American continent house. This house had several different levels and rooms. The main attraction of the house was the big tropical walkthrough hall that was located in the centre of the building. Around this hall were several smaller educational rooms that covered both natural and cultural aspects of the South-American rainforest, an aquarium with smaller South-American fish, an aquarium with arapaima and a nocturnal walkthrough with sloths, armadillo’s, night monkeys and kinkajous.

    The main tropical walkthrough had two levels. You entered the walkthrough on a wooden bridge that ran over a pond with yellow-spotted Amazon river turtles, pacu and tiger oscar. Around the pond you could find ringed teal and wattled jacana. The path then went up around a small island where the sunbitterns had their nests. In the moat surrounding the island swam ocellated river stingrays. The path then reached the upper level of the greenhouse. Here you could find enclosures for armadillo’s and poison dart frogs. The three species of monkey that roamed free through the house, white-faced saki, golden lion tamarin and Geoffroy’s marmosets, were found up here, as well as the sun conures and Cuban amazon parrots. You could then go down a staircase that brought you back to the beginning of the tropical walkthrough.
    [​IMG]
    The first thing you saw once you had left Americasa was the big pool for the pinnipeds of the zoo. In the last months before the closing of the zoo, this pool was inhabited by a mixed group of South-American fur seals and Californian sea lions. The basin used to hold a big breeding group of South American sea lions, but in 2007 the whole group of 27 animals was culled because of tuberculosis. The basin was big, with some rocks in the water for basking and playing.
    [​IMG]
    The exterior of Americasa was covered by the bear enclosure. This big, rocky enclosure was surrounded by a moat and featured several waterfalls, climbing trees, a lot of green foliage etc. This exhibit was inhabited by two polar bears that were meant to go to Wildlands, until the closing of the zoo. Before the polar bears were brought in, the exhibit was inhabited by spectacled bears, but it was originally build for Kodiak bears. On the other side of the path from the bears was the exhibit for the big group of prairie dogs.
    [​IMG]

    Part 2 – Thoughts and feelings

    I will remember this part of the zoo as a part with some of my favorite enclosures and a really big disappointment. The South-American free-flight aviary, Americasa and the rat sewer are among my all-time favorite exhibits. The playground with its educational diorama’s is another example of how great this zoo was in educating the public. The bear enclosure, the pinniped enclosure and the island for spider monkeys are all very good. The big disappointment of this area is the wild-west paddock. I’ve never really liked this enclosure. The land this exhibit was build upon used to be occupied by multiple enclosures for mainly smaller animals and birds, such as raccoons, coatis, owls and shorebirds. These exhibits all had to go when the wild-west was build in 2002 and what replaced them was a single big paddock with very few animals. The animals that were in the paddock were very hard to spot at times, which is why they had to build the walkway over the enclosure at a certain point. Moose and bison are very impressive and cool animals, I just think it was a mistake to bring them to Emmen. They require a lot of space, space that could easily be used for a lot of smaller animals, are hard to mix with other animals and are inactive most of the time. As Kifaru Bwana (with whom I completely agree) pointed out above, the post-Rensen management of the zoo failed to produce exhibits that were as popular and imaginative as the exhibits the Rensens produced and the Wild-West exhibit is just an example of such a failure in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: 9 Jan 2016
  9. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    I agree that the many smaller enclosures which housed porcupines, flamingo's, storks, gibbons and so on were much better then the Wild-west enclosure which replaced them !
    For a small zoo like Emmen the Wild-west enclosure was too big with to few animals.
     
  10. Mr. Zootycoon

    Mr. Zootycoon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this. I visited the zoo regularly as a child and when seeing
    these pictures and reading the text, the memories come back to me.

    Personally, I mostly remember the dinosaur skeletons, the butterfly house,
    the bison and elk enclosures, the pelicans, the 'rattenriool' ('rats drain') and
    I vaguely remember the sharks and the savanna.
     
  11. Pleistohorse

    Pleistohorse Well-Known Member

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    Beautiful zoo. I visited in 2002. Loved the Savannah. The Hippo and Asian Elephant herds were very impressive. I also seem to recall free roaming Squirrel Monkeys? Although my memory may be failing me.
     
  12. korhoen

    korhoen Well-Known Member

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    Part 3 – Around the savannah

    Next to the prairie dog enclosure laid the second large restaurant of the zoo: the Safarirestaurant. The terrace of this restaurant offered great views on Emmen’s African savannah exhibit. This large exhibit laid right in the middle of the park. It was inhabited by Rothschild’s giraffe, white rhino, Grant’s zebra, red river hog, blue wildebeest, impala, defassa waterbuck, ostrich and grey-crowned crane. A big hill in the middle of the exhibit created privacy for the inhabitants, as did the big oak trees that surrounded the savannah and the dry moat that formed the border of the exhibit. The stables for the savannah animals were on the other side of the visitors path. A bridge in the visitors path made sure the animals could get from the stables to the savannah and vice versa. The bridge could be lifted for the giraffes to get to the other side.

    [​IMG]

    Emmen’s savannah was surrounded by several enclosures for other African animals, beginning with a small island for meerkats next to the restaurant. You then encountered two exhibits: one for porcupines and another for a second group of meerkats.

    [​IMG]

    Next to the savannah stables were two netted exhibits originally meant for African cats. The first and smallest used to hold serval, in the last two years or so of the park’s opening it was home to a group of white-shouldered capuchins from Apenheul. The second and largest of the two cat-exhibits used to be inhabited by Sri-Lankan leopards, in the last year of opening it temporarily held a black male jaguar from Edinburgh that awaited completion of the new jaguar enclosure in Amsterdam here (that enclosure is not completed at this time so he and his partner are still on site). The enclosure had two levels. The upper level was on top of a visitor tunnel. In the tunnel itself a lot of education about leopards could be found.

    [​IMG]

    After the leopard enclosure you saw an open-topped exhibit for African marabous. The moat that started in this enclosure ran out in to the moat that surrounded the island for mantled colobus. The moat itself was inhabited by a large breeding group of great white pelicans.

    [​IMG]

    Next to this exhibit was another island, this time inhabited by a large group of ring-tailed lemurs. The island was filled with big trees, providing plenty climbing space for the lemurs. A large, rocky and sandy island was home to Emmen’s huge group of hamadryas baboons. The last exhibit in the African section of the zoo was home to a big group of hippopotamus. Their stables were also visible to the public.

    [​IMG]

    Part 3 – Thoughts and feelings

    Emmen’s African savannah exhibit is probably the most iconic exhibit of this zoo and one of the most iconic zoo exhibits in the Netherlands. In 20 years, when I think about Dierenpark Emmen, this exhibit is probably the first thing that springs to mind. The big trees in the exhibit made it very scenic. The enclosure offered great views of the animals and, even though the exhibit was located right in the centre of the zoo, the big hill in the middle of the exhibit made sure you couldn’t see the other side of the enclosure. There were plenty of benches around the enclosure and I’ve spent plenty hours sitting there, observing the animals. The enclosures around the savannah held a good variety of other African species and their enclosures were all good to really good. An example of a really good enclosure to me is the island of the ring-tailed lemurs. The really big trees on the island offered plenty of climbing for the lemurs and the island itself was so well landscaped, it was almost as if there had always been an island there. Of course, this part also had its flaws. The hippo exhibit for example might have been a bit small for 8 hippo’s, especially indoors, but overall, this part of the zoo had some really good and iconic enclosures.
     
  13. korhoen

    korhoen Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    15 May 2014
    Posts:
    47
    Location:
    Goor, the Netherlands
    Part 4 - Asia

    Next to the baboon island laid the only exhibit of the Australian section of the zoo, for a big group of red kangaroos and emu. The entrance to the last continent house of the zoo, the Asia House, was next to this exhibit. The route through the Asia House started with an exhibition devoted to snakes. Several educational displays about snakes were present, besides a couple of large terrariums for living snakes. Species in these exhibits were reticulated python, radiated rat snake, Taiwan beauty snake and D’Albert’s python. Until a few years ago, more species of snake, including green tree python and a cobra, inhabited these exhibits. Their exhibits were home to some species of invertebrate, including Malayan jungle nymph, giant prickly stick insect and giant leaf insect, in the last years of opening.
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    The basement of the Asia House featured an exhibition devoted entirely to elephants, with displays about both cultural and natural importance of elephants and the threats they face. A window in the basement looked out into the stable of the zoo’s group of elephants, which was underneath the kangaroo exhibit. The zoo build a lot of stables and night exhibits under the ground, this way saving space.


    After the elephant basement, the route through the Asia House continued with a large, tropical exhibit originally meant for water monitors, but most recently inhabited by Chinese alligators. The trees in this exhibit were home to java sparrows and in the water surrounding the exhibit swam several Asian fish species.
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    You then entered a corridor leading into a tunnel with windows on both sides. The windows on the right side of the tunnel viewed into an exhibit that was originally part of the main tiger exhibit, but had been separated from it for some time. It used to hold the male Sri-Lankan leopard, but in the last year of opening, it held the spotted female jaguar from Edinburgh that, just like the male I mentioned earlier, awaits completion of the new exhibit in Artis here. The windows on the left side of the tunnel viewed into the main tiger exhibit, in the last year of opening inhabited by a male Siberian tiger whose exhibit in Zoo Duisburg is being renovated. As I said above, the exhibits on both sides of the tunnel were originally one exhibit. The tigers could reach the other side of the exhibit over the roof of the tunnel. The roof of the tunnel was part of the tiger exhibit when the exhibits were split and it could be viewed from a small viewing platform.
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    The main route through the Asian section of the zoo then went into a small greenhouse called “Oasia”. This greenhouse hadn’t been part of Asia for that long, it was originally build as part of the section of the zoo entirely devoted to plants. Its most recent inhabitants were, among others: Rodriquez flying fox, pale-headed lorikeet and crested wood partridge. It also featured a small enclosure that used to be the indoor enclosure for the Asian small clawed otters. This exhibit wasn’t in use as such anymore in the final years and held some mandarin ducks and spotted pond turtles instead. The otters could still be seen, but only in their outdoor enclosure that you walked past once you’d exited Oasia.
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    The next enclosure was the biggest of the Asia section and was home to the zoo’s famous breeding group of Asian elephants. The enclosure was sandy, with some big rocks in the middle to provide climbing opportunities and privacy for the elephants. A bath with waterfall was also present. The exhibit also had a separate outdoor part and stable for the bull, but this hadn’t been used for a while when the park closed, as Emmen’s last breeding bull, the late Radza, was a very calm and gentle elephant that was perfectly fine staying with the group. Another reason why he didn’t use the separate bull enclosure was that he didn’t dare go down the stairs leading to the stables. The elephant exhibit was surrounded by a dry moat that had attracted quite a bit of controversy over the years, as several elephants fell into the moat. Most of them could get out by themselves, but when elephant Annabel fell into the moat in 2009, she broke a cervical vertebrae and had to be euthanized.
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    Across the path from the elephants laid the newest exhibit of the zoo. This exhibit was opened in 2011 and houses African lions. Visitors could view the lions through viewing windows on ground level and from a raised viewing platform. The lions were also visible from a small viewing area that could be reached through the Biochron. The lion enclosure was build on what once was the outdoor part of the before mentioned plant section of the zoo. Next to the lion enclosure was an exhibit inhabited by a group of Chilean flamingo’s. The final exhibit you saw before you reach the entrance again was an island for a group of lar gibbons. This island had several living trees to climb in and was very green overall, making it hard to spot the gibbons sometimes.
    [​IMG]

    Part 4 - Thoughts and feelings
    Although this last part of the zoo didn’t have such iconic enclosure as for example the African section, it still is a part with exhibits I like looking back upon. The elephant enclosure for example, although far from perfect, is an enclosure where I’ve spent many hours watching the ever active and playful elephant family. Same goes for the island with gibbons and the kangaroo enclosure. The Asia House is another example of Emmen’s excellence in creating educational exhibits with a complete basement devoted to education about elephants. I’ve never been a fan of the newer enclosures in this part. Oasia always had a very empty feel to it and never became a proper tropical walkthrough with just three species free-roaming. There was nothing wrong with the new lion enclosure, yet I still didn’t really like it. It might just be because I’m not a huge lion fan or because this exhibit would probably never have been build had the zoo not gotten into financial trouble.
     
  14. korhoen

    korhoen Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    15 May 2014
    Posts:
    47
    Location:
    Goor, the Netherlands
    Part 5 – General thoughts and opinions

    This final part of the walkthrough will be devoted to my personal opinions, thoughts and feelings about both the old zoo and the new zoo. A little note in advance: this is the first time I’ve written such a review and I sometimes found it hard to formulate my opinion. So if you have any questions or want something cleared up, please ask!

    Dierenpark Emmen will always be one of my favorite zoos of all time and one that I will certainly keep remembering for a long time, not only because it was the first zoo I ever visited, but also because of its sheer uniqueness. Some zoos stand out from the rest because of their huge collection, such as the Berlin zoos, their spectacular exhibits, such as Burgers’ Zoo, or their beautiful historic architecture, such as Antwerp or Artis. This zoo stood out from the rest because of its museum-worthy educational displays that could be found throughout the park, from the signs at the enclosures to the set up of the playground, everything was extremely well thought about and completely aimed at educating the public. I always found Dierenpark Emmen to be a zoo with a very distinct feeling to it. This was mostly caused by the large amount of huge trees in the park that made the park seem bigger than it actually was. The exhibits in Dierenpark Emmen that Mr. and Mrs. Rensen designed were also very well thought about and most of them were perfectly suited to their inhabitants. The collection was very good and the selected species gave a very good view of the species variety in their respective continents. As Kifaru Bwana pointed out very well above, after the Rensens retired, the new management failed to produce exhibits that were made with the same vision and thoughtfulness as the exhibits the Rensens made. I think it’s such a shame this beautiful zoo was neglected for years. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for Mr. and Mrs. Rensen to see their life work go downhill so much. I still think, had the post-Rensen management been as creative and visionary as their predecessors, that the complete move of the zoo to the other side of the city wouldn’t have been necessary. If, for example, the Biochron had been updated regularly it could and would still be a major draw card for visitors.

    In less than two months, the new zoo on the other side of the city centre will open its gates. This zoo, that goes under the name “Wildlands Adventure Zoo Emmen”, will be totally different from anything that we have seen so-far in the Netherlands. It will be the first zoo in the Netherlands that is completely themed. The concept of a themed zoo was based on the zoos in Gelsenkirchen, Hannover, Valencia and of course Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida. Everything, from the enclosures to the food stands and the playgrounds, has been themed. The zoo has basically been divided into 3 zones. These zones are called “Nortica”, “Serenga” and “Jungola” and each of these zones represent a certain climate. “Nortica” represents the poles, “Serenga” represents the deserts and savannahs and “Jungola” represents the rainforests. Each of the zones will feature an attraction, besides the animals. In “Nortica” this will be a 4D-ride, in “Serenga” this will be a safari-truck ride through the main savannah paddock and in “Jungola” this will be a boat-ride. I will not do a detailed description of the zoo right now (I’ll wait until the zoo has opened), but if you want to know more about the zoo or see pictures and photo’s of the zoo I’ll leave the links to the official website of the zoo (Een werelds avontuur! | WILDLANDS) and to a fan-made Facebook page (also visible to people without Fb) with pictures of the new zoo (https://www.facebook.com/bouwwildlands/) here.

    There are a couple of things that bother me about this new zoo. I’ll start with the entrance price. A day ticket to the zoo when bought online will cost €29,- for adults, €26,50 for children and €27,- for 65+ and handicapped. Children under the age of 2 are free. When you buy tickets on site you can add another €1 to the online prices. Dutch zoos were never as cheap as for example the German zoos, but these prices take things to a whole new level. Even the price of the most expensive zoo until now, the Dolfinarium in Harderwijk, is surpassed by €1,50. I’m afraid people will be set up by these prices. As the price of a year card has gone up as well (€75,- for an adult) I’m curious whether Emmen can maintain the large number of year card holders it used to have (for more than this reason alone, but I’ll come to that later).

    Second thing that I’d like to address is the animal collection. That will be much smaller in the new zoo than it was in the old zoo (and that already wasn’t an extremely big collection). I believe the number of species will be around the 80/90. I don’t really have a problem with a small number of animal species. In fact, some of the best zoos I’ve visited have small collections (Naturzoo Rheine, for example). The problem I have with this particular collection is that it will be very monotone as well. There will be very little room for “non-ABC animals” and mammals have an overrepresentation. The only birds in the zoo will be the penguins, some lorikeets (which, of course, you will be able to feed) and a really small number of birds in the large greenhouse and the only reptiles will be the Chinese alligators and reticulated pythons in the butterfly house. In a recent interview with Dutch paper NRC (Dierenpark Emmen verhuist. Alleen de sexy dieren mogen mee - NRC ) the “manager plants and animals” of the new zoo was quoted saying that for example the flamingo’s couldn’t come along to Wildlands because they weren’t sexy enough. She was also quoted saying that they were moving away from a post stamp collection (because collection planning is an entirely new concept in the zoo world…:rolleyes:) and that they only want to house “group animals”.

    Third issue I have with the new zoo is the education. As I’ve said many times in this walkthrough, the education in the old zoo was at an extremely high level. The new zoo has communicated more than once that they will not place information signs, not even species signs, because in the real jungle/savannah/tundra you don’t have signs either and you have to discover the animals that are in the enclosures yourselves. This really bothers me, because the only way you can justify keeping wild animals in a zoo to me is by conservation and education. I don’t believe you can expect visitors to learn something from the animal they’re looking at, without providing some basic information such as the name of the species, where it lives, what it eats, etc. A simple sign is still the best way to provide such information. I really hope they’ve come up with some ingenious way of getting people to learn about animals in a different way than from a sign, but I very much doubt that. They only thing they released that had the word “education” in it was that they would have an “educational show” in every part, but to me, “educational” and “show” rarely go together well.

    The last thing I want to mention is the style of theming in the zoo, but this is more a matter of personal taste. I don’t really know whether I like the style of theming they’ve applied in this zoo. I always like to see theming as a tool to enhance the understanding of the animal by the public. The idea I get from pictures and photos of Wildlands is that the theming was made a goal rather than a tool. I base this upon number of “huts” in the zoo, the weird oil pipeline in the polar bear enclosure, the plane crash site in the large greenhouse, the train in the camel enclosure, etc. All of these things are unnecessary and do not contribute to a better understanding of the animals, in my opinion. What do visitors learn about baboons when they see them in a coliseum-type arena? Again, this is a matter of personal taste.

    You might get the idea that I dislike everything about the new zoo. This is not true. There are certain aspects that I absolutely find positive. From what I’ve seen on photo’s and as far as I can judge that, almost all the animals have more space compared to the old zoo and most off-show animal facilities also look better in the new zoo than in the old zoo. I also think the theming, even though not my taste, is high quality.

    I very much doubt the viability of this zoo on the long term. In the first two years or so the zoo will draw a lot of visitors that want to see what it is. I very much doubt if those visitors will come back or that they will be put off by the entry fees and go to another zoo (of which we have plenty in the Netherlands). As I mentioned earlier in this post, the old Dierenpark Emmen had a large number of regular visitors from the region surrounding Emmen. I don’t think the new zoo will be able to maintain this large number of year card holders. Not only has a year card become very expensive, I also doubt this zoo will be very suitable for return visits. The 3 “worlds” of the zoo each have their own route and there is very little room for choosing your own path which makes the zoo unsuitable for return visits in my opinion. The small animal collection will not help either. Another thing that makes me question if this zoo will get the expected number of visitors is black-and-white and will live in the Netherlands from September this year. I’m, of course, talking about the giant panda’s that are coming to Ouwehands Dierenpark. These will, certainly in the first years, draw a lot of visitors to Ouwehands and most of these visitors will not visit Emmen and Ouwehands in the same year.

    Everything put together I get the idea that Wildlands is completely aimed at making money, which is something I don’t like at all. The old zoo was such a good example of zoo that clearly had education as its main objective and was still very popular. I really don’t get why they couldn’t build something that was more in the spirit of the old zoo. Some people (especially on the Dutch zoo forums) think this zoo is the next step forward in the zoo world. If this zoo will be what I think it will be, then I think it will be a step backwards instead of forwards. Back to the time where animals were solely displayed for entertainment purposes. I sincerely hope my doubts and reservations about this zoo turn out to be wrong and that I’ll think it is the best zoo in the world once I’ve visited but I very much doubt that.
     
  15. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    10 Dec 2012
    Posts:
    11,365
    Location:
    fijnaart, the netherlands
    I share your fears korhoen and I realy do hope we are both wrong !
    Thank you very much for this extensive goodbey and sharing your thoughts with us !
     
  16. korhoen

    korhoen Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    15 May 2014
    Posts:
    47
    Location:
    Goor, the Netherlands
    Thanks vogelcommando!