Zoo unveils crocodile enclosure plan

PLANS for a new walk-through exhibit showcasing endangered crocodiles at Colchester Zoo have been announced.The new tropical exhibit, which would also be home to snakes, lizards and monkeys, will follow the completion of a £1.75million orang-utan enclosure.

Elliot Furniss

PLANS for a new walk-through exhibit showcasing endangered crocodiles at Colchester Zoo have been announced.

The new tropical exhibit, which would also be home to snakes, lizards and monkeys, will follow the completion of a £1.75million orang-utan enclosure.

It will be spread over two floors and is hoped to feature an underwater viewing tunnel for visitors to see crocodiles swimming above their heads.

Explaining the forthcoming developments, a zoo spokesman said: “Orang-utan Forest is finally reaching completion and it is hoped that after three years of development that the indoor part of the enclosure will open in the next few months, closely followed by the outdoor runs.

“As the project nears completion, plans are now being unveiled for the development of the site where the existing orang-utan and Lar gibbon enclosures currently stand as well as the area where the Encounters Marquee used to be and the area presently known as Parrot Rock.”

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Subject to planning permission, the new walkthrough exhibit would give Colchester Zoo the room to house five new species, including the endangered species of crocodile.

“It will be spread over two floors and will hopefully incorporate an underwater viewing tunnel in which visitors will be able to see crocodiles swim and feed above their heads, before coming out to see them basking around their outdoor pool on their heated rocks, through three metre glass windows,” the spokesman said.

“On the second floor there will be an immersive tropical rainforest exhibit which visitors will be able to walk through whilst reptiles, snakes and tamarins surround them and birds fly over head.

“It is hoped that this new exhibit will also house a family of buffy-headed capuchins - a critically endangered primate that is supported by Colchester Zoo's charity Action for the Wild.”

The work would see the last of the older enclosures being demolished and as well as changes being made to some of the enclosures that have been installed since the Tropeanos first took over, which is 25 years ago this month.

If permission is granted, work could start as early as the autumn and be completed by late 2010.

Work is also under way on major improvements to the Aquatic House with the old aquariums being demolished to create a new complex with a large open reptile enclosure for Rhinoceros Iguanas.

Future plans also include the development of a new nature reserve on 1.2 hectares of land that will adjoin the existing zoo in collaborative work with the Essex Biodiversity project.

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