Sunday, 6 June 2010

Hint of India in Rural Midlands.

By Ben Aulakh

A hint of the Himalayan Mountains has been brought to the Midlands in the form of a new eco-friendly building and two critically endangered snow leopards.

Twycross Zoo in Atherstone, Warwickshire has unveiled its new Himalaya Visitors Centre, which incorporates an enclosure for two of the rare big cats.

The structure also utilises environmentally friendly methods to be as green as possible.

Zoo Director Suzanne Boardman said, “Himalaya incorporates a number of sustainable technologies and eco-friendly features, many of which are not widely used.”

Two boreholes beneath the centre use a ground source for heating and cooling, and an intelligent management system monitors energy consumption to be as energy efficient as possible.

A series of reed beds has also been created to purify the Zoo’s waste water; the next phase is to recycle this water back to Himalaya.

Suzanne added, “Our early feedback from the visitors is that they are fascinated by the snow leopard enclosure and the overall atmosphere of the Himalaya which is an important landmark development both for Twycross Zoo and the area.”

Visitors to the centre will also be able to enjoy a 300 seat all day restaurant which overlooks the Snow Leopard enclosure.

There are thought to be as few as 3500 of these animals left in their natural habitat, making them critically endangered.

It’s hoped that the introduction of the two leopards at the zoo will go some way to help secure the animal’s long term future in the wild.

The cats should hopefully feel at home in the new enclosure; some of India’s native plants such as the Rhododendron and the Acer have been planted in the exhibit.

The new centre has also already been honoured; the project team who helped construct it have achieved a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method rating – BREEAM – of ‘Excellent’ for the build. 

Himalaya has also been nominated by the East Midlands Building Excellence Awards 2010 in the categories of Best Large Commercial Development and Best Sustainable Project.

The centre will be open to the public for 364 days a year, for more information visit 

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