DENVER -- If you've ever thought of getting really close to a tiger, the Denver Zoo's new exhibit, The Edge, is hoping to make your wish a reality.
Here are seven things we learned about The Edge, the new exhibit for the Zoo's Amur tigers.
1.) What’s behind the name?
Denver Zoo’s The Edge is so-named for two very important reasons: 1.) Zoo keepers say you’ll literally be “on the edge” when you’re up close and personal with the tigers at the exhibit and, 2.) It’s a nod to the Amur tigers being “on the edge of extinction.”
2.) Tigers on the catwalk
The Edge, which zoo officials say is twice as large as the previous tiger exhibit at the zoo, has many additional features. One of those features is the catwalk.
The catwalk allows the tigers to roam freely across two yards created for them and allows them to “get up high, survey the scene and look down” at visitors from 12 feet above the ground, according to Rebecca McCloskey, curator of primates and carnivores at the Denver Zoo.
3.) Time to play, hunt or simply exercise
Feeder poles can be found on both yards of The Edge exhibit at the zoo.
The poles are not only used to have enrichment toys for the tigers, but will also serve as feeding stations to place food for the tigers "to stalk and then eat."
Another use for the feeder poles will be for exercise.
Tigers will not only hunt for food, but will also want to scratch the pole the way a cat plays with a scratching post at home. This helps them when it comes to muscle development in their legs, according to McCloskey.
4.) Get really, really close to the tigers
Plastic panels placed in the main area of the exhibit allow zoo-goers to get really close to the big cats – six inches close, to be exact!
McCloskey said the one-inch thick plastic panels are small enough that you can’t stick your fingers in them, but close enough that you can smell, hear and see the tigers at a very close distance.
The plastic panels are also patterned to look as if you were looking through the branches of a very thick forest.
5.) An “all-life” stage yard for the big cats
The Edge is built so both young and old tigers alike can get the best living experience possible while at the Denver Zoo.
Two different yards are part of the exhibit. On the left, you have a yard which McCloskey said would be suited for tigers “in their prime.” It features more logs, a deeper pool for them to swim in and floating stairs for their tigers to hop on and access the catwalk.
The right yard is for the more seasoned cats -- those who’ve already experienced the gifts of youth and who just want to really chill. This yard features a shallow pool, not as many logs and a ramp for easier access to the catwalk, according to McCloskey.
6.) Exhibit mimics natural habitat as closely as possible
The Edge exhibit tries to replicate the Amur tigers’ natural habit as close as possible – large logs, big trees, water access and many other things help the tigers acclimate to the zoo as if they were living along the Amur river in Asia.
7.) The Edge was a nearly three-year project in the making
The Edge took two-and-half years to complete: Nine months of planning and 19 months of construction, according Denver Zoo CEO Shannon Block.
A total of $2.2 million was invested to complete the project, which was possible due to approved bonds by Denver voters.
"The Edge represents what is possible for animal habitats here at the Denver Zoo,” Block told Denver7.
Denver Zoo's The Edge opens to the public March 17.
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