Marwell Zoo just outside of Winchester has debuted an £8m Tropical House – its largest and most ambitious project to date.
The exhibit is part of a 10-year, £17 million investment plan to create better animal habitats and immersive guest experiences.
The zoo has also announced that it will convert some of its 700 tonnes of animal waste into energy to heat the site and other buildings across the zoo. Woodchip from its woodland management operations will also heat the site’s buildings. This will reduce the zoo’s dependency on fossil fuels, with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020.
“This exhibit is a key guest experience with complementary education and sustainability,” said James Cretney, Marwell Zoo’s Chief Executive. “It provides close animal viewing while setting new standards of husbandry for the species displayed. We are very excited about this.”
Under the Tropical House’s curved roof, a rainforest and laboratory spring to life. Two levels of viewpoints look over a lush canopy, waterfall and forest floor.
The rainforest is home to extraordinary animals, including a Linné’s two-toed sloth, mouse deer, and pygmy marmosets on their own primate island. There are also free-flying birds and more than 2,500 fish in the aquarium.
The exhibit’s curved roof uses the latest technology. An insulating canopy lets natural light shine through, creating perfect conditions for 650 plants. More than 65 different plant species thrive and form a home for the animals. Recycled rainwater from the roof provides water for the plants and aquarium.
What Else to Do at Marwell Zoo
Many other events will get you close to the wonders of the natural world. Take the May Half Term Top Trumps Challenge. Meet crazy botanist Dr Chris Anthemum or CBeebies’ Mr Bloom this summer. Earn your level 3 broomstick licence during Boo at the Zoo this Halloween. Celebrate an enchanted Christmas from 17 November to 24 December.
Where to Stay
Marwell Hotel is a firm favourite with families, and it’s right down the road. Choose between four lodges set in the surrounding woodlands. Activity packs and healthy menus for kids make the hotel a great base to explore Winchester and the wider region.
Visit marwell.org.uk/zoo for more information.