Marwell Zoo’s state-of-the-art Tropical House is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom to be completely powered by waste. The major advancement opens up a sustainable, immersive center to the public that spans two levels and allows guests to have face-to-face encounters with wildlife and exotic plants. The tropical climate in the Tropical House also teaches visitors about the flow of energy.
The Tropical House consists of a forest floor that is home to a sloth, tortoises, marmosets, mouse deer and even a 70,000-litre aquarium. There’s a crocodile monitor lizard, 2,500 fish and an array of other wildlife and plants to explore at the zoo.
The new exhibit is part of a 10-year, £17 million investment in the zoo. Marwell’s plan is improve animal habitats over the next 10 years, go carbon neutral by 2020 and make the experience immersive for guests. The Local Growth Fund (LGF) invested £1.5 million to help support the new exhibit.
Part of the carbon neutral plan was unveiled during the Tropical House’s opening. The new exhibit uses animal waste as a form of renewable energy. Bedding, leftover hay and animal waste – tons of it – will be used to heat the buildings in the zoo. A woodchip boiler was installed and will have an upgrade added that can burn animal manure to heat rooms.
The zoo spends £140,000 annually to remove waste. Using the waste to heat buildings and water will help eliminate these annual expenditures. Marwell Zoo has also made use of tensile structure in the past to expand on their Café Graze.
The “Energy for Life” Tropical House reportedly cost the zoo £7.8 million to create. The exhibit will have the heat of a tropical environment along with the sounds of tropical animals to create a fully immersive experience for guests.
A breeding program is also in the works, with the zoo looking for mates for the mouse deer and Rica.
The zoo has incorporated water-saving measures into the exhibit. The structure’s curved roof will filter water into the 50,000-litre tanks, two in total, that will be used to provide water for plant watering and to provide water for the aquarium. The two water tanks and rain collection will allow the building to be self-sufficient.
Fences and barriers are not a major part of the exhibit. The zoo is working to bring in as many species as possible that are able to co-exist with one another.
Marwell Zoo was recently voted among the best companies to work for in the United Kingdom. The company ranked 13 out of 100 for non-profit companies. Marwell employs 250 people and is known to operate as an efficient team.
“We are thrilled to open this groundbreaking new exhibit which marks a very proud and important moment in our history,” states Chief Executive James Cretney.
The zoo hopes that the use of animal waste and the rainwater-catching roof will help inspire visitors to try and go carbon neutral, too. The exhibit is now open to the public.