Zoo exhibit for all, not just the birds

May 28, 2009 4:15:40 PM PDT
This will be a big weekend at the Philadelphia Zoo as the public will get its first look at the $17.5-million McNeil Avian Center.The Rhinoceros Horn Bill is a little taste of the Indonesian and Malaysian wildlife right here in Philadelphia. It is just one of 60 species of birds visitors will see at the new McNeil Avian center.

"The first planning sessions for this started way back in 1999 so it's been a long time coming and we're really glad it's finally here," curator of birds Aliza Baltz said.

The addition to the zoo will include four exhibits, special bird demonstrations, and the zoo's first ever 4-D movie Theater. This interactive experience brings the migration story to life.

"I think it will be really, really nice for the kids to see and for myself, big kids," Denise Gray of Northeast Philadelphia said.

"The additions that they put on here, I don't know anyone who has a zoo like this in the country," Brian Novak of Deptford, New Jersey, said.

This exhibit isn't just about education and entertainment, it's about encouraging conservation, everything from the wood used on this bridge to the bird friendly glass to the recycled water is meant to reduce the building's carbon footprint.

"Among the things we wanted to focus on was making sure we were making environmentally sound decisions in the construction process," COO of the Philadelphia Zoo Andrew Baker said.

With 12 percent of all bird species critically threatened and 2 percent endangered, the goal here was to not only learn to appreciate these exotic animals, but also to be more aware of more their more common brothers and sisters that are a part of our everyday life and affected by our everyday activities.

The exhibit opens to the public on Saturday morning.

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