New otter and reptile habitats coming to Zoo Knoxville

Zoo Knoxville is to construct new habitats for its otters and reptiles as the next step in its 10-year master plan.

The otters will be moved closer to the entrance, by the Boyd Family Asian Trek habitat. An artists rendering of the habitat shows a pool with glass sides allowing visitors to watch the otters swim and play. Zoo Knoxville plans to have the area open by the end of 2019 or start of 2020.

Lisa New, president and CEO of Zoo Knoxville, told the WBIR Channel 10 that the otters are currently in an out of the way location and the zoo wants to put more of a focus on them.

“Guests love them. They’re active. They’re busy,” she said.

Architects are also working on designs for a new International Herpetology Centre to update the reptile and amphibian area, which is one of the most dated structures in Zoo Knoxville.

“We have one of the best collections in the world and internationally known staff in conservation work. We want to showcase that,” New added.

The master plan was approved by the zoo board in 2014 and includes major improvements to visitor experience and animal habitats. Its goal is to double the annual attendance of Zoo Knoxville to 800,000 people by 2026.

A $10m habitat for Malayan-tigers and gibbons opened in 2017 as part of the master plan, this was followed by new homes for the zoo’s gibbons and langurs in March.

Image: c. Zoo Knoxville. 

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