Ursa International

Gibbon/Hornbill Exhibit

Micke Grove Zoo, Lodi, California

Gibbon Hornbill Habitat, 2012

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Aerial Perspective of Gibbon/Hornbill Enclosure


The Gibbon/Hornbill habitats add to the Asian Biome of the Zoo, and represent a breakthrough in animal welfare at the Zoo, providing a wonderful guest experience with a multi-layered educational approach for all visitors.

The 2000 sf Gibbon Habitat recreates a tropical forest with vines and tall canopy trees, dense understory and rich sounds and smells. This fully netted enclosure uses a minimum of structure and fine wire mesh to create a large three-dimensional space for the family of Gibbons to explore, where the edges are blurred and the 24’ height appears to be limitless. The use of large tropical simulator species and native species ensures a lush environment and one that signals that you have entered a special place.

In the center of the exhibit, a lush garden with canopy trees provides an immersive environment for the visitors, with through glass, covered, 360-degree viewing of the gibbon habitat. Special benches and sitting ledges give our guests a place to rest in a cool, shady place within a very active environment.

What is extra special about this place is the added element of choice. We know from field scientists that Gibbons utilize a unique form of locomotion that allows them to move quickly through these dense forests high in the canopy where a tangle of vines and branches create a highway for those capable of ‘brachiating’, of which gibbons are masters. In this exhibit we are allowing the Gibbons to demonstrate their skills by setting up a circular route of vines and branches within the enclosure and placing the visitors in the center of that space.

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Cross Section through Exhibit, viewing and Gibbon Chute Entry system


What’s more is that we have also provided a pathway out of the exhibit and over the visitor space for our Gibbons, if they choose, to expand their space with an added 80’ mesh chute out one side
of the enclosure, and back in the other (similar to Philadelphia treetops trail- photo on left). This added choice of pathways through their habitat provides our Gibbons with a level of well being that standard exhibits can’t match, and creates an exciting visitor attraction with an unmatched educational feature. To lock in that educational message about brachiating, we go to the next level and provide a simple ‘monkey bars’ play structure for the kids to practice their brachiating skills. Additional educational messages include tropical forest bio-diversity and endangered species. These lessons are taught by the co-habitants of a separate, 150 s.f. enclosure. The zoo will exhibit a pair of endangered Asian Hornbills of the Asian Tropical Forest.


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Exhibit SIte Plan


This exhibit shares the same holding building and there is a door on exhibit that connects it to the Gibbon Exhibit. While the Gibbon need to come in at night, it may be possible to allow the Hornbill to have the larger enclosure after hours to enrich their lives and provide well being for this species as well.

The Gibbon/Hornbill cluster can be built for around $1,000,000 in approximately 8 months depending on bidding climate and procurement method. Much of the work can be done locally by skilled labor, and provide jobs for a small crew plus tradesmen. The netting is the only specialty construction item but is widely used in the zoo industry.

This exhibit will bring Micke Grove Zoo into the 21st century with some real innovation and the kind of exhibits that will provide an extraordinary visitor experience scaled to fit a small zoo, but fit for the finest.