Join our zoo community

Tropical halls

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Marhi, 16 Sep 2016.

  1. Marhi

    Marhi Member

    29 Nov 2009
    Prague, Czech republic
    Hi all! I am big fan of tropical halls with free-flying birds or butterflies. I know about few of them but I would love to discover more :) Do you know any good tropical halls? I prefer those where you can find more taxas - like free flying birds, butterflies, with lizards or frogs freely in the area etc.

    Also, I am heading to Leipzig in close future. They have some rarities in Gondwana but I haven't seen any during my last visit. Finding birds are very hard there (at least for me) ... does anybody know any hints how to find at least half of the species? Is there any place where you can see them around feeders?

    Tropical halls which I've visited and I loved:

    (1) Tropical hall in Zoo Wien, Austria: great, especially because of Chloropsis hardwickii (Birdhouse is awesome as well)

    (2) Tropical hall in Zoo Nürnberg, Germany: beautiful, with butterflies, tanagers and you can observe manatees there

    (3) Gondwana hall in Zoo Leipzig, Germany: huge, great collection

    (4) Sechuan, Prague Zoo, Czech republic: ok, it is not tropical hall but the bird collection is great

    (5) Bird House, Dvůr Králové, Czech republic: I love it, mostly because of turacos there

    (6) Tropical hall, Walsrode, Germany: great one (as most of all Walsrode)

    (7) Regenwald, Zoo Köln, Germany: great one too, mostly because of
    Aceros cassidix

    (8) Bird house, London Zoo, Great Britain: lovely, I loved free flying pittas there

    (9) Haus des Meeres, Wien, Austria: wonderful but mixing species from many places (Asia, Africa etc.), friendly Tocko is awesome

    I am sure there is more, especially in Germany and Netherlands. I've never been to Netherlands but I hope it is gonna happen in close future.

    Can you help me, please?
  2. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

    23 Jan 2008
    New York, USA
  3. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    16 May 2010
    Wilds of Northumberland
    The Tropical House at Chester Zoo is significantly better than the exhibit you refer to at ZSL London Zoo :) as is the Monsoon House there.
  4. annebn

    annebn Well-Known Member

    14 Jan 2015
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I agree the the Eden Project is a pretty amazing place. But it's of course MUCH more about plants than about animals.

    In terms of zoo tropical halls, I really like Randers Regnskov tropical zoo in Denmark- three pretty large halls for three continents (Africa, Asia and South America). South america is the biggest, and I would go there just for the Manatees alone -but there are lots of other animals too.

    Randers Regnskov - Tropical Zoo:

    And in a different way, I also enjoyed the old tropical houses at Artis in Amsterdan (Apenhuis and Vogelhius), with free roaming reptiles, bats and small monkeys- it less packed with animals perhaps than some more modern houses, so it took a while to discover them, which kind of made it more fun.
  5. Vision

    Vision Well-Known Member

    29 Aug 2015
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Some more, in a somewhat random order:

    -Burgers' bush (Burgers' zoo, Arnhem). One of the biggest tropical halls around, with probably one of the best collections around. Roof consists entirely of Texlon air-cushions, making it so there is no need for supports to hold up the roof. An incredible array of free-flying species (Highlights being African darter, screaming piha, Gray's piping-guan, Chaco chachalaca, golden-fronted leafbird, etc.) but with some exhibits for otters, aardvarks, manatees and caimans. Important to note is that the first ever captive green iguanas were born here, and very recently the first ever second-generation screaming pihas.

    -Masoalahalle (Zürich zoologischer garten). Honestly, this one just speaks for itself. Possibly the best representation of a real-life rainforest in a western zoo, and certainly the best representation of a Malagasy rainforest in a western zoo. An ecosystem that functions almost just like it would in real life, with predators, prey, and a very nice amount of rare species; Goodmann's mouse lemur, Geoffroy's dwarf lemur, red-fronted lemur, crested drongo, Madagascar magpie-robin, pitta-like ground-roller, crested coua...

    -Crocodile house (Tierpark Friedrichsfelde, Berlin). A small, yet wonderful tropical hall. Split up in two halves, you walk through this hall on a boardwalk. First, you enter an area keeping an incredible amount of turtle species, and quite a wonderful collection of birds; Andean cocks-of-the-rock, red-legged honeycreepers and other rarities roam freely here, and have access to an outdoor aviary. The second area keeps American alligators, Chinese alligators, dwarf crocodiles, false gharials and blue-tailed monitors.

    -Freiflughalle (Zoo Wuppertal). Attached to the bird house keeping an already extremely interesting line-up of rarities is this relatively small, entirely South-American based tropical hall for birds. With Andean cocks-of-the-rock, spangled cotinga and purple-throated fruitcrow it has a very nice collection of cotingas, but also in this hall are Pacific horneros, a male white-tailed trogon, 3 tanager species, purple honeycreepers, and so on. Very small, but very impressive.

    -Tropical Zoo (Zoo Copenhagen). A set of three tropical halls, some indoor exhibits and an outdoor aviary that tries to capture the biodiversity of our planet's jungles... And does so well. The first area focuses mainly on birds, with white woodpeckers, black crakes and spangled cotingas being the highlights in a wonderfully constructed rainforest. There are exhibits in this area for tomato frogs, three-banded armadillos (one of the best places for photographing them I've found, as they are active in decent light levels), red-footed tortoises, a green anaconda, and mangrove monitors. After this you enter a building with exhibits for many invertebrates, herptiles and small primates/birds from across the world. The second hall has an exhibit for West-African crocodiles, and has free-flying butterflies and grassquits.

    -Rimbula (Wildlands, Emmen). In my opinion, a good example of what a tropical hall shouldn't be, but since it's the biggest in Europe it requires a notable mention. A very large indoor exhibit for Asian elephants, islands for spider monkeys and gibbons, and a walkthrough area for lory's are the only exhibits, and limited to only very 'standard' species when it comes to free-flying taxa.

    -Many, many more... Tropical halls are, gladly, still very popular in zoos, and it'd be impossible to list them all!

    About the rarities in Gondwanaland; On my visit I saw the Hartlaub's turaco pair in a tree in the village you enter in, I saw the blue-throated piping-guan on the railing of the restaurant overlooking the area, and the Vietnamese flying foxes could be found relatively easily throughout the dome as long as one pays attention (Plus, the taxon can be found much more easily in the bird house in the same zoo; another wonderful tropical hall!). The eastern pygmy marmosets have an exhibit, but apparently escaped all the time so were allowed to roam the hall freely; they're usually seen in the area to the right of the boat tour entrance, when looking at it from the village (but are incredibly difficult to find, as I believe there are only 2 remaining). Good luck!
    I wasn't able to find any of the reptiles and amphibians present, but wasn't really expecting to either.

    EDIT: And to add on to what annebn said, Artis' monkey house has the only Northern sugar gliders in Europe, though they are only rarely seen. Other interesting species freeroaming in this house are New Guinea ground cuscus and grey-bellied night monkeys.
    Last edited: 16 Sep 2016
  6. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

    16 May 2014
    Warsaw, Poland
    Wroclaw Zoo's Afrykarium is worth a mention, and has free-flying birds in both the Hippo area with various savanna birds as well as the Congo area with rainforest birds (African species, of course).

    I would also suggest that the Black Crake in Gondwanaland at Leipzig is most easily seen when doing the boat ride, that is how I saw one, and I know others have seen Black Crake from the boat ride as well. Apparently there are also now King Vultures in Gondwanaland which I think would be interesting to see.
  7. aardvark250

    aardvark250 Well-Known Member

    4 Jan 2016
    Tama zoo have a great free flying butterfly aviary
  8. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

    10 Dec 2012
    fijnaart, the netherlands
    In Emmen you also have the Butterfly-house with some nice aquariums, some reptiles ( in enclosures ) and loads of Butterflies.
    In Germany a little, but even so very nice - Tropical hall can be found at Tierpark Gettorf with a lot of birds.
  9. Buldeo

    Buldeo Well-Known Member

    8 Aug 2012
    The Yay Area
    Not entirely a zoo, but the Osher Rainforest @ the California Academy of Sciences is pretty rad. It has free flying birds and butterflies, with a decent selection of amphibians and reptiles under glass.

    The Amazonian river section is also quite well done.
  10. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

    28 Jan 2014
    League City, Texas
    Moody Gardens has a pretty awesome tropical rainforest area. There are free-roaming birds, butterflies, monkeys and more.

    Houston Museum of Natural Science has a fantastic indoor butterfly garden.

    Houston Zoo has a small, but neat, tropical bird hall.
  11. temp

    temp Well-Known Member

    5 Jul 2014
    Eden project is well worth a visit, but as mentioned by previous posters it isn't really about animals. Regardless, I do find it interesting that they call it the "World's largest indoor rainforest". According to their own page it is 15590 m2 (=3,85 acres). Compared to the world's two largest rainforest halls in zoos that's marginally larger than Burgers', but slightly smaller than the 16500 m2 (=4,1 acres) Gondwanaland in Leipzig.

    Here's a thread about rainforest halls in U.S. zoos (from 2008-2009, but still useful as I don't think any massive rainforest halls have been built there since):

    I've seen a fair number of rainforest halls worldwide, including the largest in Europe and USA, but still consider Zurich's 10000 m2 (2½ acres) Masoalahalle the best. In terms of birds Walsrode's Indonesia hall c. 2000-2002 hasn't been surpassed. It's still very nice, but if you have a time machine I do recommend a visit to that earlier period :p

    EDIT: Somehow I completely missed this place in Emmen's newly opened zoo:

    Largest in Europe = largest in the world (all rainforest halls in zoos of other continents are quite a bit smaller than the very largest in Europe). Apparently 18000 m² (4,45 acres), which edges it ahead of Leipzig's Gondwanaland. However, if Rimbula essentially is an elephant house+rainforest hall some might argue that it belongs in a different category. Do the gibbons have their own netted exhibits? If not, they're well-documented bird catchers and the zoo would be wise to stay away from rarer free-flying bird species.
    Last edited: 19 Sep 2016
  12. Joker1706

    Joker1706 Well-Known Member

    14 Sep 2010
    Dortmund, Germany
    There´s another good Tropical hall, "Amazonica" at Blijdorp Zoo Rotterdam.

    It´s a large rainforest which houses lots of different butterflies, accompanied by some closed enclosures for Anacondas and Iguanas and a large Pond with different fishes like Pacu and Arapaima (and also some turtles)
  13. Giant Panda

    Giant Panda Well-Known Member

    24 Jan 2016
    This is an intriguing comment I wholly disagree with. Not only are Eden's domes a major distraction, but the signage, visitor route, shifting geographical focus, and lack of a canopy all contribute to the impression of being in an exhibit. By contrast, and as noted by previous posters, the Masoala Hall feels like a patch of lowland tropical rainforest. The animals certainly add to its authenticity, but even having visited Woodland Park and the Bronx, it's the only genuinely immersive exhibit I've ever experienced. The Eden Project, whilst great, has never given me that. Would you mind elaborating on why you (presumably) disagree?

    My own ranking of “the big three”:
    1) Masoala Rainforest Hall
    2) Burgers’ Bush
    3) Gondwanaland
  14. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

    23 Jan 2008
    New York, USA
    Perhaps this is either a matter of different tastes or perhaps you visited years earlier than I did (before the canopy grew in). The scale of the tropical dome allows trees and palms to reach unprecedented size indoors, the general wildness of the plantings, the switchback trails climbing the old quarry side, the species richness all work for me. The ETFE dome itself was not at all a distraction to me once inside, and when you climb to the observation platform my eyes went down, not up.

    I was there just as work on their canopy walk was beginning. I imagine that changed things.

    The Mediterranean dome is a different matter.
    Giant Panda likes this.
  15. Philipine eagle

    Philipine eagle Well-Known Member

    4 Jan 2008
    Planckendael (Mechelen, Belgium) got a pretty descent Asian themed tropical hall with lar, prevost squirrel, slender loris, Luzon northen clouded rat, toepaja, black rat, tiger python, greater argus and Sunda wrinkled hornbill. Free roaming birds include bali mynah, luzon bleeding-heart, pheasant pigeon, mangrove egret, palawan peacockpheasant, collared kingfisher, Java sparrow, Bank myna, red junglefowl, white-shouledered starling, Brahminy starling, pied imperial pigeon, nicobarpigeon, chestnut munia, red-whiskered bulbul, crested partridge, Salvadori's pheasant, chestnut-backed thrush, white-rumped shama, etc. A separate section is -sadly - transformed into a lori-landing.

    Most mammals are kept in a nocturnal section, in and under an old temple ruin. Vegetation is full grown.

    Adjadent to the hall are enclosures for Asian lions, lar, Celebes black macaques, asian small-claw otter and an aviary with demoiselle crane amongst others.
  16. SealPup

    SealPup Well-Known Member

    11 Jan 2017
    I love tropical houses but I don't get the disapproval of lory aviaries?

    Though globally these halls have a bad reputation for failing to breed birds. But to this day exhibits feature nest predators such as oropendolas (in the USA) often, which is inexcusable. Shier species of bird become dominated by others or are disturbed by visitors. The concept is thus marred by a poor choice of species.