Animals walking about, humans ‘locked up’. The Rio de Janeiro zoo will become a biopark and its approximately 950 animals will have large areas to enjoy, like their natural habitats.
The park, which is in Quinta da Boa Vista, in São Cristóvão, in the city’s North Side, is currently under construction and the people can visit part of it. They can still see the hippos, elephants, jaguars, tigers, lions, bears and monkeys, among other animals. By 2020, the Carioca zoo, which was granted to the private sector in 2016 for 35 years, should be fully ready. It is estimated to attract 1.3 million people every year.
Once complete, the public will walk around on overpasses, acrylic tunnels and even boats within the biopark. Enclosures have no more bars separating the animals from the people, which improves the experience for visitors and provide a suitable environment for the animals. The improvements, which involved studies, training and planning, were programmed for more than a year and monitored by members of environmental agencies in Brazil.
The new concept, called ‘reverse enclosure’, is used in zoos around the world, such as the San Diego Zoo, in California (USA).
Six large biospheres will represent ecosystems, such as the Rainforest, the African Savannah and the Biosphere of Birds, among others. In this new project, there will be a large vivarium with approximately three thousand square meters, combining over 100 species of birds, divided into three biomes: Atlantic Forest, Pantanal and Psittacines. For more adventurous visitors, there will be the option of a tree climbing circuit that makes you feels like you are in a real rainforest.
The restructuring of the zoo, according to BNDES, the Brazilian Development Bank – loaning the money for the project – will contribute to increase its attractiveness, not only for Cariocas, and will strengthen the “tourist capital” of the city of Rio de Janeiro, which is already one of the main pleasure tourism destinations in South America.
Another highlight of the project, which visitation will be free of charge for public school students, is the Savannah area. Visitors will be able to take part in a safari with a route made through a 400-meter long artificial river traveled by boats. This biome will have species such as zebras, gnus and giraffes — which can be fed by visitors.