ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The largest zoo addition in decades is open providing a new home to a handful of animals and an immersive experience for visitors. Malayan tigers, snow leopards, Steller’s Sea eagles, orangutans, and siamangs all got a new home at the Asia exhibit. “We are giving every single animal here to do what their wild counterpart does,” said zoo manager, Lynn Tupa.
The 4.5 acres have what are called flex habitats, which will allow animals like orangutans and siamangs to move around to different habitats. They will also have flex times letting tigers, siamangs, and orangutans explore different parts of the habitat each day. That gives them the opportunity to move around a bigger area, boosting their social enrichment while giving folks a closer look. “They’re looking down on you which is different for them so it’s a different for the guest so you’re walking into their home and it’s just amazing,” said Tupa.
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The work started back in 2019 but with COVID-19, the construction took a bit longer than planned.
Zoo manager Lynn Tupa says the most complex exhibits were the ones for primates, as the design included a lot of ropes and wobble trees that were specially designed for the zoo. The expansion will also have a space for behind-the-scenes animal care, along with digital learning and other educational resources for visitors.
Now, the Biopark is turning its attention to the next big expansions underway. “The next big GRT investment at the Biopark are the Heritage Farm expansions which will open in March of 2024 and Australia phase one which will also open March of 2024,” said Brandon Gilson, deputy director of art and culture.
The zoo manager says they hope to bring more animals to the exhibit, including possibly a snow leopard and a tiger. If that happens they hope to start a breeding program. The 33-million-dollar project was made possible by a voter-approved tax in 2016.