Construction Officially Underway for Indoor/Outdoor Home for Lemurs and Tortoises
Source: Lehigh Valley Zoo
(Schnecksville, Pa.) – Lehigh Valley Zoo is proud to announce the official groundbreaking for Habitat Madagascar took place on Thursday, June 9. Along with general contractor Jerdon Construction and exhibit architect Spillman Farmer Architects, the LV Zoo revealed the plans and process for this new, indoor/outdoor habitat for its Lemurs and Tortoises that will be located between the Australia and Africa areas of the Zoo. Construction is expected to be completed in the fall.
Casilio Concrete, also in attendance, is providing additional support for the building infrastructure.
“The Lehigh Valley Zoo is excited to be breaking ground on our first new exhibit in five years,” said Amanda Shurr, President and CEO. “We are committed to building the best new habitats, as well as updating our existing exhibits, to provide the best welfare for the animals under our care. This is the first of many projects we have planned that will directly impact both our current animal residents and future species for our Zoo. We appreciate the support of the Lehigh Valley community as we start this project and are eager for it to be completed and be enjoyed by all.”
In addition to housing the LV Zoo’s Lemurs and Tortoises, the 1,600-square-foot building will provide behind-the-scenes living space for the animals when they are off-exhibit as well as being climate controlled to ensure the optimum environment year-round. The animals will be able to spend time in their almost 300-square-foot outdoor habitat during the warmer, in-season months at LV Zoo. They will also be able to be viewed by guests during the colder months of the year in the 500 square feet of indoor exhibit space.
The indoor lobby of this exhibit will include a 10-foot donor wall, which will display names of the supporters of the exhibit. The lobby will also display digital educational and conservation messaging, which will provide LV Zoo guests a wealth of information about the species living in the exhibit. Lastly, the indoor lobby will also be accessible for small gatherings or events, which will help generate revenue that will ensure the sustainability of this exhibit well into the future.
Habitat Madagascar will immediately house LV Zoo’s male and female Mongoose Lemurs, Abby and Mico, who are a potential breeding pair. The indoor exhibit space will provide a safe breeding environment for the lemurs and features a separate “suite,” which LV Zoo hopes will be occupied by future Lemur mothers and babies.
Habitat Madagascar will also be a home for LV Zoo’s African Leopard Tortoises. These Tortoises are currently shifted between several exhibits and living spaces throughout the year depending on the weather and temperature, and LV Zoo is excited to provide them with one space to call “home.” This multiple-species environment will meet the ideals of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA); LV Zoo’s accrediting body. The goal is to develop mixed species habitats that will allow the public to see species living together similar to the way they would live in the wild.
LV Zoo plans to add additional Lemur species, as well as other small primates, in the future. Different Lemur species co-exist in the wild on Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. LV Zoo is thrilled to join other AZA institutions in their efforts to successfully breed and raise different Lemur species in the same habitats.
Conservation of Endangered Species
Mongoose Lemurs are considered critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Human activity is negatively impacting Lemur populations and their home on the island of Madagascar is diminishing at an alarming rate. In fact, it’s estimated that about 1-2% of Madagascar’s forests are destroyed each year, and only about 10% of Madagascar’s forests remain. Slash-and-burn agriculture, clearing land for cattle and charcoal production are destroying these precious forest ecosystems. By establishing a breeding exhibit, LV Zoo will be helping to contribute to the survival of this species into the future.
In addition to habitat destruction, unfortunately both Lemurs and Tortoises are poached by people in the wild and sold, in some cases, into the illegal, exotic pet trade. If these animals continue to be taken from the wild, we will only continue to see their wild population numbers decrease. The exotic pet trade also puts both animals and humans at risk through the spread of zoonotic diseases. The goal of LV Zoo is to provide education within this new exhibit via messaging and educational programs that highlight these challenges and teach guests how to better support wild species to ensure their future survival.
Contribute to Our Efforts
Community support remains crucial for LV Zoo to continue the high level of care and habitats for the residents under our devoted care. Individuals and organizations wishing to contribute to Habitat Madagascar can do so by visiting www.lvzoo.org/madagascar. All individual donors who contribute at least $500 or corporate sponsors that contribute at least $2,500 will receive a spot on our donor wall in the form of a custom laser-engraved wooden tile to be added to our landform mosaic of mainland Africa and the island of Madagascar.
Groundbreaking Photo Captions
(Left to right): Gina Vary, Project Architect, Spillman Farmer Architects; Ron Jerdon, President, Jerdon Construction; Amanda Shurr, President and CEO, LV Zoo; Dean Meiser, Project Manager, Jerdon Construction; Maggie Morse, Curator, LV Zoo; Matt Goense, Secretary, LV Zoo Board of Directors (Owner, Krings Stoves and Fireplaces)… Radley the Sea Turtle, Mascot, LV Zoo, also appears in the featured image.