San Diego Zoo is to build a new $69 million Sanford Children’s Zoo, following a $30 million donation from businessman T. Denny Sanford.
The Sanford Children’s Zoo will be the most expensive attraction that San Diego Zoo has ever constructed, topping the $68 million Africa Rocks exhibit, which opened in July last year. It will replace the existing mini-zoo in the southeast corner of the complex.
Mark Stuart, President of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global, said: “This project is the most ambitious ever undertaken at the San Diego Zoo and will result in a one-of-a-kind children’s zoo for the 21st Century.
“Denny Sanford’s philanthropy is all about making the world a better place for children. Thanks to his transformational investment, San Diego will have the very best children’s zoo in the world.”
Sanford Children’s Zoo
Covering 2.3 acres, the children’s zoo is targeted at those under twelve and will be split into four nature zones; Desert, Temperate Forest, Wetland Marsh and Tropical Forest.
Desert will include a dung beetle globe fountain, rope climb, animal care facility and an exhibit featuring prairie dogs, burrowing owls and fennec foxes. Temperate Forest will feature a 25-foot high treehouse and exhibits on coatis (of the raccoon family) and Patagonian cavies.
In the Wetland Marsh zone visitors will find an aviary, floating dock with an underwater viewing area and a building housing reptiles, amphibians and fish. It will also include an animal ambassador building, where animals stay before and after they are led round the zoo or taken on offsite trips.
A treetop walkway and subterranean exhibit will be highlights of the Tropical Forest zone. Visitors will be able to enter an artificial beehive and observe beekeepers tending live hives through a glass wall.
Sanford Children’s Zoo will also feature hands-on activities and digitally enhanced experiences. These include schools of fish that appear to move out of the way as people walk over an image of a moving stream.
Construction on the new attraction is due to begin in 2019 with a target of opening in 2021.
Image: Sanford Children’s Zoo