An impressive gateway marks a clear departure from the main guest path to the immersive Expedition Asia trail. As guests embark on the experience, they are first brought nose-to-nose with Malayan tigers in a panoramic view of their nearly 11,000-square-foot habitat, encompassing 23-feet of grade change across its natural terrain of grass and native rock. Continuing on, guests are led directly between state-of-the-art animal care facilities for tigers and sloth bears and under an overhead transfer that allows these animals to experience the other’s habitat on a rotating basis. Glass views flank this path before guests embark on an elevated boardwalk experience that provides universal access to the heart of the exhibit, the Overlook Pavilion.
With the site’s marked change in elevation, this open-air structure towers above, giving guests a birds-eye view of habitats but also eye-to-eye encounters with tiger and sloth bear training sessions. It serves as a premier event venue for both private and community events unlike anything else in the region. The boardwalk continues down the hill surrounded by views of the 3,500-square-foot netted leopard habitat on one side and over 7,000-square-foot sloth bear habitat on the other. A new care facility for leopards sits at the bottom of the hill, where the Zoo was originally constructed as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in the early 1930’s. To preserve elements of this history, the original limestone piers were maintained in the leopards’ habitat and the script has been flipped; the octagonal structure that surrounds guests and provides a 180-degree view into the leopard yard once housed animals.
Upon leaving Expedition Asia, all guests can enjoy the other Asian species featured along the Zoo’s historic rim, which completes the uniquely themed experience.
At just over an acre, this multi-species habitat is home to some of the most charismatic and endangered species in Asia and serves as the first project built from the Zoo’s master plan. With a forward-focus on empathy building, conservation and education, Expedition Asia not only provides major upgrades to the care facilities for Malayan tigers, sloth bears and Amur leopards, but also an enhanced visitor experience with ADA-compliant access to the oldest part of this historic Zoo.
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