Over the last decade, the Memphis Zoo has opened a number of world-class exhibits, including Teton Trek, which opened in 2009, themed to the Yellowstone ecosystem, and Northwest Passage, which opened in 2006, themed to the Pacific Northwest ecosystem. The zoo is now preparing for yet another $22 Million major expansion, titled Zambezi River Hippo Camp, which is scheduled to open in spring 2016.
Zambezi River Hippo Camp will offer zoo visitors the chance to explore the wildlife and culture of the Zambezi River region of Africa. As the name suggests, the main attraction will be the hippopotamus display, which will feature a 250,000 gallon pool for the three hippos at the zoo. The hippo exhibit will feature both above and below-water viewing galleries.
While the hippos may be the title attraction, there will be other species on display as well. Four Nile crocodiles, three females and one male, are coming from South Africa to the Hippo Camp to inhabit an exhibit that will showcase their natural athletic abilities. The 175,000 gallon pool in their exhibit was designed to be deep enough for them to gain momentum and leap out of the water during feedings. The facilities that the Memphis Zoo is building for this project will equip them with the resources necessary to hopefully begin breeding programs for both hippos and Nile crocodiles.
As if the hippo and crocodile habitats weren’t exciting enough, Zambezi River Hippo Camp will also have exhibit spaces for greater flamingos, okapi, and patas monkeys, in addition to various aquatic species from the region and a number of African birds. Another feature of the project will be “rondavel” buildings, which are traditional hut-like homes in the Zambezi region of Africa that will house interactive educational displays.
To support the Memphis Zoo’s construction of this project, they are accepting donations through December 31. For donations of $250 or above, donor’s names will be printed on a donor recognition wall in the exhibit and they will be invited to a special exhibit preview before the grand opening.