The DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation Brandywine Zoo broke ground on its Madagascar Exhibit, an outdoor space that will soon be home to several new animals.
The newcomers to the Wilmington zoo will include the Radiated Tortoise, and three species of lemurs: the Black and White Ruffed, Ring-Tailed and Crowned.
The Madagascar Exhibit is part of the Brandywine Zoo’s recently approved Master Plan and will be the largest capital improvement in the zoo’s history. The Master Plan focuses on improved animal welfare and guest experiences, species of conservation concern, and the inclusion of more mixed-species exhibits.
“The Madagascar exhibit and other planned upgrades will bring our guests close to rare animals and provide crucial lessons about how humans can lessen their impact on species extinction,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “This exhibit will increase the sustainability of the zoo and the endangered species we care for.”
The zoo will be closed to the public throughout the winter months during the initial stages of construction.
At nearly 4,000 square feet, the Madagascar Exhibit will be one of the zoo’s largest display habitats. It will include interactive features and information about conservation concerns in Madagascar. The project will take approximately six months to complete; some areas of the zoo will be closed during construction. The Madagascar Exhibit costs approximately $3.5 million, funded through multiple state, federal and private sources.
Brandywine Zoo Director Brint Spencer said combining three species of lemurs and the Radiated Tortoise into one exhibit will create a more active space.
“Having multiple animals sharing a habitat provide natural social enrichment for the animals as they interact with each other and make the exhibits more interesting for the visitors as they watch these interactions,” he said.
Delaware Zoological Society Executive Director Michael T. Allen said they are excited to see these animals join the Brandywine Zoo. All four species of animals are part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plans, which “are designed to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and demographically stable population for the long-term future,” according to aza.org.
“Ninety-four percent of lemur species are endangered or critically endangered,” he said. “It is wonderful to see the Brandywine Zoo participate in these Species Survival Plans to help maintain an insurance population for generations to come.”
As part of the Crowned lemur survival plan, a male and a female will be paired for breeding at the zoo; just 30 of the species exist in the Americas, 18 males and 12 females. Brandywine Zoo will become the 12th location on the entire North American continent where Crowned lemurs can be viewed by the public.
To help support the new exhibit with additional habitat and facility updates, the Delaware Zoological Society just launched a three-year, $5 million Zoo-Re-imagined Capital Campaign alongside the Madagascar Habitat construction.
The Zoological Society capital campaign will help fund an entryway, updated exhibits, and a wetlands exhibit. Most of the new habitats, buildings, and viewing areas are available for sponsorship.
For more information about or to donate to the Zoo-Re-imagined Capital Campaign, visit brandywinezoo.org/reimagined.