NEW African Savanna!

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NEW African Savanna!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Visitors to the Zoo will now be able to see for themselves the incredible transformation that has taken place behind large green hoardings that have dominated the area known as the African Plains for the past nine months. 

And no – you haven’t been transported to Kenya – this typical dry savanna landscape has been created on 22,000 square metres in Dublin 8!  It will now provide a new home for a mixed group of African mammals including giraffe, zebra, ostrich, and the endangered scimitar horned oryx which is actually extinct in the wild.  All of these species are indigenous to savanna and semi-desert conditions.

On Thursday 9th of April, the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese officially opened the new African Savanna habitat, she commented “If you live in the Park it is hard to avoid noticing how popular the zoo is.  It is remarkable how its popularity has never waned - just grown stronger year after year, drawing each new generation into its own special magic, its own unique world.  That world has kept changing, offering something new and fresh and it was that spirit of progress and devotion to animal welfare that set the scene for this new Savanna habitat.“

Designed by conceptual architects Jones and Jones and the Dublin Zoo team, the African Savanna recreates natural conditions for all of these animals and represents a major investment by the Office of Public Works and Dublin Zoo. The landscape which consists of a rock escarpments, sand, grasses and isolated trees has been built on land which was formerly part of the neighbouring lands of Aras an Uachtarain.

The project, a feat of civil engineering, involved the excavation and movement of thousands of cubic metres of earth, the placing of some 5000 tonnes of Donegal sandstone boulders and the laying of 6000 cubic metres of sand.

Zoo Director, Leo Oosterweghel pointed to the success of the Kaziranga Forest Trail which Dublin Zoo created for its herd of Asian elephants and which opened in 2007.  “This created exactly the right conditions for these intelligent social animals.  I believe the African Savanna habitat is even more exciting because we can mix animals together in an incredible landscape which will enrich and stimulate their lives and at the same time will captivate and immerse our visitors in a real and breathtaking experience.”  

He also noted that the creation of an escarpment on a previously flat field will allow visitors to enjoy the full scale of the habitat. “I believe this has the potential to be the highlight of a day at the Zoo.  Why go on an expensive safari holiday when you can enjoy an African experience in Dublin?”

The African Savanna in now open to all Dublin Zoo visitors, be sure to pay a visit you won’t be disappointed!

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