New Zealand's Auckland Zoo has revealed a timetable for opening each part of its new South East Asia Jungle Track project ‒ a NZ$58m (US$39m, €34.6m, £31m) investment that's part of the zoo's wider 10-year, NZ$150m (US$100.9m, €89.5m, £80.4m) evolution programme, funded by Auckland Council.
The development includes new habitats for new species from the south-east Asian jungle, including a high canopy for orangutans, gibbons and other primates, lowlands for tigers and otters, a swamp forest dome with a scientifically-engineered environment to mimic the hot and humid Tropics, where the Sunda gharial (Asian crocodile) and a range of other reptiles and fish will live, and lake and wetlands with an extended climbing range for arboreal primates.
On a more functional level, a new 1,000sq m (3,280sq ft) cafe and function venue is being built, with views of the lake and wetlands habitat, while infrastructure services such as power, gas, data and water will be renewed.
The zoo has worked with Studio Hansen Roberts on the design of the South East Asia Jungle Track, with NZ Strong (builders), Jacobs Engineering and Beca Group (project strategy and delivery) also part of the team.
The schedule announced sees the cafe and function venue open around Christmas 2019; the high canopy should open during the New Zealand summer (December 2019-February 2020), followed by the lowlands in the winter (June to August) and the tropical dome in springtime (September to November 2020).
Visitors will be offered a "highly immersive journey through four distinct habitats spread across one-fifth of the zoo", said Auckland Zoo, and will be able to "discover and connect" with some of South East Asia's most spectacular and threatened wildlife. This will be delivered partly through "shared shelters", where visitors can get up close to the animals.
In the final phase of the development programme, slated for 2021 to 2022, the zoo said it will develop a refreshed South American trail, new entry and family facilities, and an African Forest track.