For the past year we have been waiting and waiting for the new Tropical House at Marwell Zoo to be open. I absolutely love a Tropical House and Marwell's is home to Javan chevrotain (mouse deer), pygmy marmosets, tortoises and free-flying birds, we went round a couple of times and you always spot something you missed the first time within the dense lush, green canopy. There is also a 70,000-litre aquarium with 2,500 fish and a crocodile monitor lizard. I was pleased to see the colony of leaf-cutter ants had found a new home and were still busy moving the leaves from one pipe to another. You can literally watch them for hours. Lets not forget the cascading waterfall and all those gorgeous plants but the star of the show for me is the sloth! Who was hiding their face from all the nosey visitors but what a treat to see an actual sloth hanging from a branch without a care in the world.
One of the most exciting parts to the project is that the Tropical House is the first in the UK to generate energy using waste ‘zoo poo’. Leading the way in sustainability, Marwell Zoo realised a significant untapped energy resource in some of its 700 tonnes of animal waste (dung, soiled bedding and leftover hay) that could be used for renewable energy within the zoo. This to me is mind-blowing! All that poo will provide heating for buildings across the zoo and enable the charity to reduce its carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels.
The Tropical House itself though is pretty impressive spanning two levels with fantastic vantage points but there is also interactive information points which provide more detail on green-technology and renewable forms of energy. But let's not forget the outside which has a contemporary curved roof which has been built using the latest ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) technology. This insulating roof canopy allows natural light to shine through, creating ideal conditions for 650 individual plants from 65 different species to flourish and form a lush habitat for the animals. Rainwater from the roof is harvested in two 50,000-litre tanks to provide water inside for the aquaria and plant watering, making the building self sufficient.
What makes Marwell Zoo's Tropical House even more special is how every single plant, fish, marmoset looks like he's never lived anywhere else. Regular readers will know Charlie has a thing for big cats so he was so excited to get a couple of really good photos of the leopard. In the Lemur Loop a crazy big lemur tried to steal our lunch. Of course Charlie was too busy laughing to take any photos so you'll have to take my word for it.
(not bad for a 11 year old!)
We were provided a free family pass to visit the new Tropical House.