Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Triple Grotto Upgrade Suggestions and Idea

I'll start by saying, of course thoughts are based on a Visitor point of view.  There may be reasons this wouldn't work, but you never know so I'm tossing it out there.  Just like I did with the Bear Grotto Expansion idea and they did pretty much what I suggested.  And hey, they pay outside consultants, so they are getting me for free!

If you're interested and missed this one:

The basic thought for this is, there is too much unused space.  There should be a way to fill it in and still contain them.

So, I have always thought that the Chimps could use a larger surface area.  They way the Triple Grotto is set-up, there is too much wasted space with the Moat.  All they have is what looks to be about five feet of surface grass around each climbing structure.  All they can do is come out, walk around the perimeter of the island, forage for whatever food might have been tossed there, and then go up and sit.  Sit for the rest of the day.  Likewise when the South Grotto had a climbing structure.   I heard there was some damage to it and it was taken down several years ago and that Grotto was closed off to them for awhile.  When it reopened, a huge log was placed in there.  I've seen them sit on the log, but not sure how attached they are to it.  That Grotto isn't accessible, but from every perspective I have, it seems the log is in the middle of the island, so again, they don't have much surface space.

Here's a video of an overview of the whole area:

For years I have thought a great idea would be to fill in the moats and connect all the Grotto's to create a huge surface area for them.  Taking construction disturbances into consideration, I think just connecting the Middle and South Grotto might be a better idea.  ... The distance from the island to the edge looks to be about 8-10 feet.  So, by doing this, that would give them an extra 30+ feet surface area across at the least and extend the distance from the Grotto's out by Eight feet. Eight on one side, 16 between the two and another Eight on the other side.  I'm not an artist by any means, but I did this little piece that might help (or it might not!).

So, in my mind, the Middle and South Grotto could be enclosed (shown with the Orange outline), using a glass barrier?  So they have the same visual as they are used to.  They would also still have open air as they are used to, when they are on structures.  The Yellow area is the Moat that can be filled in and landscaped over (the Light Green overlay).  

This idea would also fix the Barrier Issue that has been a problem at the Middle Grotto.  As you can see below, the only barrier that extends past the metal barrier around the Moat, is that flex fencing behind the signage (which wasn't even there a couple years ago when I witnessed kids beyond the fence).  That fencing ends and does not connect to anything that would prevent a Breach.

I wrote a blog post about it two years ago.  It also contains other Barrier stuff, but there's some good details and photos pertaining to the way the Barrier is set-up and how Breachable it is.

Only thing I would add about a new barrier, is that the metal barrier around the Middle Grotto, especially in that area at the back of the Cafe and connecting to the North Grotto should remain in place.  Not only for Safety Reasons, but the Peahens nest in that area and a place they are comfortable should not be disturbed.

The South Grotto is not accessible to Visitors, and I'm leaning toward thinking that's not a bad idea, so the Chimps have an outdoor area where they aren't "on exhibit".  I have another idea for viewing from a distance, that would involve some tree trimming and possibly adding a Viewing Scope, from the Stairway to the upper part of the Primate Center.

When envisioning the enlarged surface area that extends from the base of the Middle Grotto structure to the end of the South Grotto, I see a habitat that mimics nature.  Fabricated Trees and a Termite Mound. ... I did some research on my idea and found this photo of the Houston Zoo Chimp exhibit, which is similar to our Gorilla exhibit.  Looking down at them is not a good thing, but I'm looking at the Fabricated Trees and that one big one is exactly what I'm thinking about.  Its pretty awesome, many branches to climb and sit and what appears to be scooped out areas.

This video, is of the Fabricated Trees and Termite Mounds at the Zoo.  None are at or have ever been considered for the Chimps.  Why?

Could this idea work as good as it seems?

There is also still the idea I put forth to Director Peterson about having a tree lined barrier to distract direct view from the Chimps perspective to the Visitors, to possibly eliminate some of the visual Visitor disturbances that often upset Cobby.  Visitors could still view the Chimps through staggered trees and when they are on the structure.

If anything you read moves you,
Please contact the SFZoo Director
Tanya Peterson

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