Today was the latest installment of our clouded leopard exhibit design process and as you can see by my face, the news wasn't good! We have reached the point in the concept phase where we receive our first cost estimation and needless to say, it came in a bit high. So most of the meeting was spent looking for ways to scale the project down to match our budget. This is a completely anticipated and normal development as one always shoots for the moon and settles for something more Earth-bound. We have come up with a good compromise that will serve both the Zoo's goal of housing two breeding pairs and providing a great educational and fun experience for our visitors. We are working on some fun exhibit features that will show off the cats' natural talents and hopefully bring them close to visitors for an intimate encounter.
We spent some time working out the details of the transfer system that will be necessary to move the cats around. We need to have all five indoor holding areas communicate to the exhibit and to both back outdoor holding areas. The cats will move in transfer chutes overhead that form a network connecting all these areas. This will (should!) make it easy to provide each cat access to each area without having to move other cats around to accommodate the transfers.
Now the designers take all of our comments back and will present the result at the last meeting of our concept phase at the end of the month. It's great seeing some progress, even if the compromises are a little painful.