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Tulsa Zoo What are the most needed changes at Tulsa Zoo?

Discussion in 'United States' started by keith8404, 29 Jun 2011.

  1. keith8404

    keith8404 Well-Known Member

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    Not sure how many on here are very familiar with the Tulsa Zoo, but since it is my "home zoo" I am most interested in seeing it become as great as it can possibly be. For those familiar with it, my question is: What are the TOP 3 changes that you would make to the Zoo to improve its overall quality? This can be anything from major exhibit renovations, deletions, additions, to what they serve in the grill!

    To get the ball rolling, here are my Top 3:

    1. Renovation/removal of the Big Cat Grottos. They are outdated and too small for large carnivores. For the time being, I would loan out the tiger (construction of a new exhibit for tigers near the Elephant Encounter would be further down my list) and retain the lions. If feasible, I would retain the existing den/off-exhibit area, join the two grottos into one, fill in the moats (of course install new appropriate containment barriers) and expand the space into the area between the Black-footed penguin enclosure and the Events Lodge (maybe add a nice viewing platform to the front of the Lodge overlooking the habitat). This would result in a large modern exhibit suitable for lions and enhance the "Africa" section of the Zoo. Associated with this renovation would be remodel/reuse of the Snow Leopard habitat for a Caracal or other small African cat.

    2. Renovation/removal of the Bear Grottos. For the same reason as the cat grottos. I would loan out the bears (construction of a new Spectacled bear exhibit near the TARF building would be further down my list) and retain the troop of Black-and-white ruffed lemurs that currently is housed in the northern-most grotto. Again, if feasible I would retain the den/off-exhibit area, fill in the moats, replace the concrete with dirt and turf, and install appropriate new containment barriers. Inspired by the current use for lemurs, I would convert the other two grottos into areas for endangered African monkeys, perhaps Drills in the center one and Barbary macaques in the other. Again this would enhance and give more consistancy to the south end of the Zoo being the "Africa" section.

    3. Renovation of the former Polar Bear/current Grizzly Bear habitat at the Arctic Tundra building. This is No. 3 on my list largely because it is so close to the Zoo entrance and therefore one of the first exhibits many people visit. As currently built there is too much concrete and not enough natural substrate. I would remove most of the concrete floor and replace with turf and sandy areas. I would also increase the viewing opportunities into the north area of the exhibit that is already natural dirt, enlarge that area to incorporate the former wolf habitat (which would make the exhibit truly spacious), and tie the parts together as one seamless exhibit space viewable from both the entrance of the Arctic building and around on the other side as you head toward the Desert building. Also, do whatever is needed to the pool and indoor underwater viewing window to allow the pool to be full and the waterfall to flow, and for visitors to get right up to the indoor pool window like they used to. Hopefully this could also include renovating/retheming the first large room inside the building (the one with the bear viewing area and arctic fox exhibit) to reflect a boreal forest theme more appropriate to Grizzly Bears. This would include painting the room, adding new educational exhibits, artifical conifers, and replacing the Arctic fox with a Fisher. The second room with the Igloo could be retained as the "Arctic Tundra" room. The whole building would then be renamed the "Taiga and Tundra" building.
     
    Last edited: 1 Jul 2011
  2. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

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    @keith8404: Thanks for starting this informative thread, but other than myself and a couple of others I'm not sure how many individuals on ZooChat have actually toured Tulsa Zoo. Your suggestions are excellent and I'm a big fan of zoos overhauling/renovating/demolishing outdated exhibits before building brand-new, separate enclosures and so your ideas are both timely and fairly inexpensive in comparison to many other possibilities.
     
  3. keith8404

    keith8404 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Snowleopard. Hopefully there will be a few others familiar with the Tulsa Zoo who will chime in, or even those who just want to make suggestions based on the excellent photos in the Tulsa Zoo gallery (most of which you supplied I believe!). If there aren't posts and suggestions from others after a reasonable period of time, I'll just have to keep adding to my list!:)

    I hope in doing so, people don't get the wrong impression. Tulsa is my home, and I think the Zoo is overall pretty good (and the Tropical American Rainforest Building and the Chimpanzee Connection are EXCELLENT) and I love it, but I've seen enough great zoos, even in smaller cities (Wichita for instance), to know that it has been stagnant and can grow into something much better. People I know who have lived in both liken the city of Tulsa to Omaha, and the Henry Doorly Zoo would certainly be a great benchmark.

    Hopefully the recent privatization of the management of the Tulsa Zoo (still owned by the city but now run as a seperate not-for-profit entity with greater flexibility in budgeting, etc.) will result in a faster pace of renovation and new development. The Southwest Desert and the Eastern Forests buildings are both currently closed while renovations are underway, constrution is actively underway on the new naturalistic Sea Lion Cove, a new elevated Giraffe viewing and feeding deck is almost finished at the giraffe paddock, and just last week two beautiful young females joined the solitary male giraffe as the nucleus of a new herd, so the signs are encouraging.

    I'd love it if someone intimately involved in the management and future planning for the zoo would join in the discussion and let us know what else is actually planned.
     
  4. loxodonta

    loxodonta Well-Known Member

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    There are some major changes coming down the pipe for this zoo. The grottoes most likely are coming down and Africa, rhinos and big cats are the major focal points. The zoo is not part of the city anymore so it may take some time to get these projects done but the designs for the exhibits look excellent.
     
  5. keith8404

    keith8404 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the Post! Do you have any additional details or links to more information on the future at TZ?
     
  6. loxodonta

    loxodonta Well-Known Member

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    Its all in the in developmental stage and there is nothing definite. The only details I am aware of is new exhibits for rhino (mixed species with whites and possibly acquiring blacks) which will be part of Africa Section, new leopard, tiger and possible other Asian cat species (clouds, Amur Lep, etc.) which will take up the current big cat grottoes, cheetah and ostrich yards. Also a rumor of an African Forest section with gorilla, okapi, bongo and pygmy hippo but just a rumor. If anymore concrete plans come up I will let you know.
     
  7. keith8404

    keith8404 Well-Known Member

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    For anyone interested in recent history on the operation of and financial challenges faced by the Tulsa Zoo, and the recently implemented plan to privatize the managment of the zoo (including a good comparison of various zoo management strategies), I found the Tulsa Zoo Organizational Analysis and Governance Study prepared in March 2010. at this site:
    http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/griffin/NEWSon6/PDF/1005/Tulsa Zoo Plan.pdf
     
    Last edited: 19 Jul 2011
  8. keith8404

    keith8404 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting! Definitely hope to hear more.

    Not sure how I feel about some of the ideas. An improved Rhino exhibit is needed. Something of greater size would be nice, and it definitely needs major changes in the aesthetics/landscaping/immersion department!

    Putting an Asian cat complex in place of the current big cat grottoes doesn't make sense to me if there is any plan to keep with organizing the zoo by continents. My feeling is that everything southeast of a line drawn from the Aldabra Tortoises to the Black & White Ruffed Lemur grotto needs to be of African origin. For that reason it should be an African cat complex. You could retain the cheetah/dik-dik/meerkat exhibit (with more attractive fencing around the cheetah yard) and, after tearing out/filling in the old grotto complex, expand the Meerkat building to the southwest, adding additional small mammal displays and lion and African leopard denning areas as part of the buidling. Exhibit yards for the large African cats would go in the space vacated by the current big cat grotto, snow leopard enclosure and ostrich yard.

    An African Forest section would be nice, but not a necessity for me (though I'd love to see Pygmy Hippos added!). I'd rather see the effort put toward improving the Asian section of the Zoo by adding an Asian Forest or Jungle area. The area between the elephant yards, amphitheater and Aldabara Tortoises looks ripe to me for development of just such a complex. It could include areas for Asian forest antelope or deer (Eld's Deer perhaps?) and Malayan Tapir, as well as a large exhibit for Tigers, with perhaps an associated enclosure for Clouded Leopard.

    Personally I'd build a seperate, properly landscaped Snow Leopard habitat closer to the Zoo entrance, in the sloped area north of the elephants and southeast of the chimps (who should move to the south end and get replaced by Orangs, but I'll let 'em stay for now ;)). All of that together with the Elephant Encounter would make a nice coherent Asia Section in the Northeast part of the Zoo.

    I've been playing around with my own "Tulsa Zoo Master Plan" for a while just for kicks and these thoughts (and a lot of other ones that create more geographic cohesiveness) are reflected in it. I'll see if I can post it on here somehow.
     
  9. keith8404

    keith8404 Well-Known Member

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    Okay, here's my "Master Plan Map" for the TZ. There's an explanation that goes with it that I'll post next.
     

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    Last edited: 21 Jul 2011
  10. keith8404

    keith8404 Well-Known Member

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    And here's the written descriptions of the changes proposed on my Master Plan Map. Enjoy. Comments and criticisms are welcome!
     

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    Last edited: 21 Jul 2011