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Water lilies / marshland exhibits at zoos

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Jurek7, 7 Sep 2021.

  1. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member 15+ year member

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    Zoo La Fleche has underwater viewing for tigers with some water lilies.

    I realized that zoos very rarely show water lilies in animal exhibits (besides fish tanks) and rarely show wetland ecosystems (not deep freshwater). I think it would be cool to see giant Victoria water lilies with piranhas or giant otters, colorful waterlilies with crocodiles, floating ferns with hippos, or lechwe or waterbuck actually wading in shallow water.

    What examples of such exhibits do you know?
     
  2. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Quite difficult to have large herbivores with water lilies. They eat ‘em:)
     
  3. RetiredToTheZoo

    RetiredToTheZoo Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and the Baton Rouge Zoo are basically zoos built in the wetland swamps of southern Louisiana. Fill dirt was hauled in to provide some dry ground. Their wetland exhibits are basically just undeveloped natural areas.
     
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  4. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member 15+ year member

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    Water lilies are (mildly) poisonous. Any water vegetation with hippos/antelopes needs to be protected by metal bars or electric wire. Giant otters are mobile and destructive, patches of reed might survive in large enough outside exhibit, no chance for water lilies.

    Giant Victoria water lilies are not simple to grow, if you want them, you must build and plan the whole exhibit around them as your priority, while any accompanying animal would be only chosen based on compatibility with them (fish, some small birds). This is something botanical gardens do, not zoos.

    Most water bodies in zoo enclosures need regular emptying and cleaning by keepers, this is impossible with floating water lilies and similar water plants.

    I don´t want to say that natural-looking planted shallow wetland zoo exhibits would not be highly attractive, but reality of intensive animal husbandry sets limits to it. Most zoos rather invest in nice gardening OUTSIDE exhibits than to compromise animal husbandry they would need to accomodate live water plants.
     
  5. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Here in the U.K., Birdland (the old site, not the current one) had one or more lily ponds that Jacanas lived on through the warmer months.
     
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  6. Westcoastperson

    Westcoastperson Well-Known Member

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    The end of Los Angeles’s Rainforest of The Americas has something very similar to what your asking for. They have giant river otter and a pirhana tank with some vegetation. At the end of the exhibit are fake Lilly pads you can walk on freely. The entire area is also themed after a stilt hut which is very cool.
    I do agree with you though that we need more areas themed to this style. There are many opportunities especially in places like Africa and Asia. I would personally like to see this and the implementation of multiple species of magrove from different continents. Telling the story of their intricate ecosystems and their current threats and connections to climate change would be a welcomed addition to the zoo world.
     
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  7. Bengal Tiger

    Bengal Tiger Well-Known Member

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    I am pretty sure Nashville Zoo’s turtle pond in the tiger enclosure has some lily pads.
     
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  8. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member 15+ year member

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    I don't see any different problems than land plants - don't keep them with herbivores, keep plants compatible with needs of animals.

    I think fast-growing floating water plants, like water hiacynth, salvinia or pistia, would survive even herbivorous animals like hippos and antelope (but not manatees). They are not favorite food. Actually, they grow naturally in some zoos. An added bonus is removing extra nitrogen from water. However, while in Northern zoos they are seen as ornamental, they could be also seen as weeds.

    Water lilies could grow in moats, and have a double benefits of hiding the moat. They would also probably thrive with crocodiles and caymans.

    There is plenty of South American carnivorous fish which would thrive with Victoria, for example arowana and arapaima.
     
  9. Skukuza

    Skukuza Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Crocodile swamp at Paignton would be one.
     
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