DENVER — A new exhibit at the Denver Zoo will aim to "inspire wildlife-friendly behavior changes in our community," the zoo president and CEO said.
The exhibit, called Down Under, will feature species from Australia and New Zealand.
The two-acre space will take the place of the zoo's former Bird World exhibit, which closed after 45 years in October 2019 once staff determined it needed repairs, did not meet the needs of the guests or animals, and was below standards for sustainability.
Demolition of Bird World has started and the construction for Down Under is expected to begin this summer. It is expected to open in 2023.
“The closure of Bird World in 2019 presented us with an incredible opportunity to create better habitats for our animals and experiences for our guests,” said Bert Vescolani, president and CEO of the zoo. “Down Under will give us the unique opportunity to tell a story about a region that shares a lot of climatic and environmental similarities with Colorado, and inspire wildlife-friendly behavior changes in our community.”
In 2020, the Denver Zoo and its donors supported Australian wildlife rescue efforts when bushfires burned through the region's eucalyptus forests, affecting more than 3 billion animals and destroying thousands of homes across more than 42 million acres, according to the AFAC. By Jan. 2020, the zoo raised more than $55,000 to help.
Zoo officials say the Down Under exhibit will not only include opportunities to see unique animals, but it will provide opportunities for people to practice conservation and learn about its importance.
The core of the exhibit will have a walk-through wallaby area.
The exhibit will have landscaping that mimics the region with outdoor spaces that "are resilient and adaptable to Denver’s varying climate," the zoo said.