January 4, 2007

Pittsburgh Zoo Fights for Wildlife

The week before Christmas, we took a drive up I-76 to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium (PZPPGA). It may not be as diverse or as large as the National Zoo in DC, but it more than makes up for it in the quality of its exhibits.

My first visit to the PZPPGA was over the summer, and it is immediately apparent that landscaping—both in the habitats and in walking areas—is a priority. While the National Zoo (and many other large zoos like it) has miles of concrete and blacktop with very little in the way of ornamentals, the PZPPGA, with fewer visitors, can afford to narrow the paths and tend a moderate amount of foliage.

The aquarium is incorporated into the zoo’s path, sleekly displaying aquatic and marine systems, native and exotic, a penguin exhibit and my personal favorite, Octopus vulgaris, who was mysteriously and disappointingly absent this time around. The Amazon rain forest exhibit and the gift shop more than made up for my missing friend.

Since the summer, construction was completed on the new polar bear exhibit, the main feature of what appears to be an environmental education project. As you can see in the pics, the exhibit is set up like a harbor, complete with a mock fish market. Instead of selling fish, they’re taking the opportunity to engage the public with a clever exhibit, addressing what aquatic and marine animals we should and should not be eating. Walruses will soon be joining the polar bears at the pier.

Props to the PZPPGA for their efforts! If you’re ever in the Pittsburgh area, take a day and spend some time perusing.

One of the polar bear residents...

I'm assuming the space under the pier will be filled by next year
for the full effect. It should be pretty neat.

Uh-oh, PZPPGA's gettin' politcal...

I love the design of the signs.

Heather's looking for a fork.

Cool display. The fish isn't real btw. I was half expecting a sushi
chef behind the counter (which would have beat soggy French fries hands down).

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:13 AM

    Thanks for the compliments. I love your pictures too! To answer some of your questions, the Pier will be complete by Spring, with more interactive and educational exhibits that have the same look and feel. It will include viewing of sea otters and walruses, and a small amphitheater to view walrus feedings and training sessions. When you exit the pier, you'll roll around under it to go through a 30-foot tunnel under the polar bear pool, so that you can see the bears swimming over your head when they are in the water. Then you'll see sea otters under water when they dive into their kelp forest, and finally another tunnel for underwater viewing of walruses (the only one in the world that we know of). We also plan to add a boat with educational interactives on the outside of the pier that people can walk through and learn a little about conservation while they are having fun.

    We should have an octopus soon. Squirt, the octopus we had, recently died from old age. Old age, that is, is roughly four years maximum. We, especially his keeper Jen, loved him, and we miss him very much.

    I hope to see you in the spring when the rest of the exhibit opens. Sea otters are really awesome. They have between 600,000 and 1 million hairs per square inch. I wonder who counted all those to figure that out!??

    There's lots of other cool facts, but this isnt' a commercial. I just wanted to let you know what's goin on and tell you that I'm glad you like the exhibit.

    Connie - PZPA