Today we met with the designers of our new exhibit to discuss the landscape plan. This is an important part of the project to ensure that our visitors are immersed in the clouded leopard's tropical forest habitat. However, there are multiple challenges in selecting the correct plants and planting strategy to account for the way the cats will use their exhibit. We're hoping to plant at least one large, live tree with branching that will help the cats utilize the height of the exhibit. However, large trees are very expensive and are difficult to transport and plant. Hopefully we can find something that is small enough to move in a cost-effective manner, but be large enough to withstand the attention of the cats.
The goal is to create a multi-story landscape with some tall elements, but also shorter, large-leafed tropical plants. The challenge here is to provide some cover for the cats to slink around in, but not so much that they won't be visible. We also plan to have numerous plants surrounding the exhibit, including verticals that will grow up and over and eventually obscure the fencing.
I haven't written too much about the exhibit planning lately as we have just been going back and forth with some mundane details that wouldn't translate in any sort of exciting fashion for the blog. We also had some tense moments of scary cost estimates that way outspent the budget, but the good news is that we now have everything under control AND the exhibit is going to be pretty much all we hoped for! That includes six holding spaces for cats (2 pairs and cubs), two off-exhibit outdoor yards and of course the exhibit itself. We are also designing one of the holding areas to have a glass viewing area that we can uncover if we are raising cubs, in effect serving as a nursery area.
Here's a look at the plan right now. We will wrap up this design phase at the end of the month and then get to the nitty gritty of developing the actual construction documents. Fun times!