In 2016, Cleveland Metroparks Rosebrough Tiger Passage had recently opened to great success. Zoo leaders wanted to build on that momentum and create a better space for the snow leopards, Amur leopards and red pandas.
Through a collaborative charrette process, WDM worked alongside Van Auken Akin Architects and zoo stakeholders to develop their vision for guests and animals to experience one another in new and more meaningful ways.
- Improve animal welfare
- Improve conservation impact
- Increase in guest engagement
Previously, the snow leopards and red pandas were located in the Primate, Cat and Aquatics Building (PC&A) where the public could view them through glass. If animals were outside, they couldn’t be seen from inside the building, guests would have to go around to the back. That viewing experience was not convenient and so it was underutilized.
In the Amur leopard habitat, choices were limited to inside, outside, or perch on a single elevated platform. With such a static environment, the leopard spent his time pacing on the ground.
“Leopards like to be in elevated spaces and we really wanted to give them choices and complexity in those habitats,” says Andi Kornak, Deputy Executive Director, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
Snow leopards are more elusive than Amur leopards, more solitary in habit, so they tend to hide away from view. How could the leopards’ own instinct be used to move them closer to humans, improving guest experience?
WDM proposed to “flip the script,” as Matt Schindler, WDM principal, terms it, and give the “animals control of where to be and what to see. Put people on display for the cats.”
Leopards are by nature arboreal. Anyone who knows cats will acknowledge that felines enjoy higher vantage points. The new exhibit would use the cats’ instinct to view prey from above as a motivation for them to come closer to the zoo’s guests channeled through the exhibit below them.
- Design start: February 2017
- Exhibit opening: June 2018