River otter, Salmon and Bald Eagle Exhibits
The Sequoia Park Zoo Foundation has been awarded a $2.3M grant to proceed with the next stage of the Master Plan – the foundations of the Native Predators exhibit in the form of the Watershed Heroes project. This project will bring River otters back to the zoo, as well as Bald eagles, three local salmon species and a new learning lab. Groundbreaking on the project occurred in July 2013, with the grand opening scheduled for summer 2014.
Upon the completion of Watershed Heroes, visitors will enter a whole new world when they arrive at the zoo. We have engaged specialized zoo designers to ensure every visitor’s experience will be truly awe-inspiring and the habitat provides an appropriate and engaging space for the animals year-round. The family-friendly exhibit starts with an open entry space and watershed play area. Here, children can explore a real watershed and investigate the salmon images in the walkway beneath their feet. Next, visitors will encounter a dramatic waterfall that recreates the natural cascades salmon must navigate to travel upstream and spawn. Overhead will be a tumble of logs that creates a shelter over the “streambed” walkway, while clear walls on either side give visitors an intimate view into the underwater life of salmon and otters.
These above-ground tanks enable visitors to see otters playing on one side, and on the other salmon feeding, guarding a redd (nest), and perhaps even a salmon carcass from the other side of the tank – all demonstrating the important role salmon play in human, animal, and forest life on the North Coast. The entire exhibit is a living example of a healthy watershed, where visitors can learn how everything is interconnected – and how they can help protect this fragile environment.
At the far end of the exhibit, visitors will encounter the first Bald eagles to call Sequoia Park Zoo home. The Bald eagle aviary will provide a permanent home for injured birds that can no longer fly, within a natural setting on the edge of the redwood forest. A magnificent redwood tree inside the aviary will serve as a focal point where visitors can step inside their habitat for close-up views of these magnificent birds and to get a sense of what their life in the forest is like – particularly exciting for those of us who’ve been tracking the Humboldt Bay eagle family from the live webcam!
Natural features such as logs, snags, and boulders will provide a variety of perching and roosting areas for the eagles, and a pool will give these water-loving birds the opportunity to bathe and forage in the water – enabling them to engage in a full range of natural behaviors. Specialized soft mesh netting will enclose the top of the eagle aviary to keep the birds safe, yet still allow them a 360 degree view of their surroundings. Children will be able to experience the world of the eagles by building their own aerie with a life-sized eagle play nest just outside the aviary.
Winky, the zoo’s Northern spotted owl, will move in next door to the eagles as soon as additional funding has been secured for her new home.
The project also includes a new learning lab to provide an insider’s view of the salmon pool and eagle habitat, as well as the opportunity to study water chemistry and other aspects of watershed science, and to observe the animals in their natural environment. This area will also be used to tell stories about the intricate relationship between salmon and humans, past and present.
The Watershed Heroes exhibit replaces some of the oldest buildings in the zoo which recently housed our porcupine, Northern spotted owl, ravens, Cotton-topped tamarins, Rainbow boa, and tarantula. The owl, porcupine and ravens will move into the next phase of the Native Predator zone development once funding has been raised to design and build their new homes. While you may not see the Cotton top tamarins, boa, and tarantula for a while, the Master Plan does include a new tropical building near the Barnyard which will house rainforest denizens such as these.
Help ensure the success of this project and others by making a contribution today!