Prague Zoo building home for Tasmanian devils

A new complex of buildings is inspired by Tasmania's Darwin Crater

The Prague Zoo has begun preparatory work for new exhibition complex for Australian wildlife. The area located on the zoo's south side is inspired by Tasmania and in particular the area known as Darwin Crater.

Visitors to the Kč 61 million pavilion will be able to see Tasmanian devils, wombats, three types of kangaroos and birds.

Construction will take 12 months, and more time will be required for preparations for the placement of the animals.

The architectural design reminds people that Tasmania was a long undiscovered world.

Six outdoor enclosures and two aviaries will be built. The new buildings form a single unit in the shape of a natural crater formation that was inspired by the impact of the meteorite on Tasmania.

The buildings will run around the perimeter of a circle, where visitors will find natural outcrops. The building will be on an existing slope and, looking from above, will blend in with the terrain.

The new zoo habitat will replace part of the old pheasant enclosure, whose inhabitants will be moved partly to the new Rákos Pavilion and partly to breeding grounds.

Part of the exhibit will be an indoor breeding ground for animals that visitors will be able to see.

The largest structure will be a kangaroo runway with a visitor's trail.

The complex will be built by VW Wachal, which won the tender. “Construction work in the zoo will be done in such a way as not to interfere with normal operation. We are therefore planning to ship building materials and heavy machinery while the zoo is closed,” VW Wachal's manager for Prague, Ivan Valenta, said in a press release.

The company last autumn completed a building for staff at the Prague Zoo. In Ostrava it built a hippo pavilion and a visitor center, including a center for environmental education.

The firm recently won an honorable mention in the Construction of the Year of the Zlín Region competition for the municipal office in the town of Ostrožská Nová Ves. It also won an award from the Ministry of Industry and Trade for recycling waste material into new construction.

The Tasmanian devil is considered endangered and is found only on the island of Tasmania. Its numbers have been declining drastically due in part to disease. Zoos are needed to create a reserve of the population away from the diseases present in their natural habitat.

Survival of the species relies on keeping uninfected populations safe from the disease, and outside the native habitat of Tasmania until the disease is eradicated.

Prague Zoo had a good year in 2017. Attendance in 2017 was the second-highest ever. Some 1,445,126 visited. In April 2017, the zoo welcomed its 60 millionth visitor since it opened on Sept. 28, 1931.

There was also the birth of 1,261 youngsters of 219 species of mammals, birds and reptiles.

Prague Zoo last year was named the fifth-best zoo in the world by travel website TripAdvisor. The ranking is based on visitor reviews. The zoo took fourth place in 2015 and seventh place in 2014; no ranking was published in 2016.

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