of an Exhibit
Published on December 29, 2012
Museum: Wildlife Conservation Society-Bronx Zoo
Visit Date: December, 2012
Description:The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) manages about 500 conservation related projects in more than 60 countries. The boroughs of NYC houses the five living institutions of WCS: The Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo. These WCS parks welcome over 4 million visitors each year. As a native New Yorker and animal conservationist, I frequently visit these five living institutions. Zoos have always provided opportunities for me to have meaningful encounters of the natural kind and I attribute my love for the environment and wildlife to them.The Bronx Zoo is one of the world’s largest metropolitan zoos. Its 265 acres contain over 4,000 animals and represent about 650 species. The Jungle World exhibit is a popular attraction and is located in the Wild Asia area of the Bronx Zoo. I decided on visiting Jungle World because it was my favorite exhibition at the zoo throughout my childhood. I also realized I hadn’t experienced Jungle World since 2006! How were these 800 Asiatic animals (representing over 99 species) holding up? I was surprised to see that visitors were now required to pay an additional fee to enter the exhibition. In the past, everyone was granted access to Jungle World along with regular admission. Visitors feel completely immersed into the Jungle upon entering the exhibition. You can feel the heat and humidity, hear forest sounds (water, bird chirping, primate vocalization, etc.), and see lots of exotic vegetation. The entrance is purposely low lit, providing the visitors with a nice transitional space from normal to jungle. To your immediate right, a pair of tree kangaroos welcomes visitors. Across from them, probiscus monkeys and river otters are jointly housed. Many of the animals displayed are not exhibited behind glass. Without realizing it, visitors passing through Jungle World serve as effective exhibit barriers. Each animal exhibit attempts to recreate natural habitats by providing many areas to rest, feed, and live enriched lives.
Jungle World is divided into several areas, each representing various types of forest: scrub forest, mangrove forest, lowland evergreen forest and lower mountain forest. After leaving the tree kangaroo area (scrub forest) visitors find themselves in more of a traditional museum exhibit setting. This area provides detailed information concerning threats to forests as well as ecosystem services. The lowland forest exhibits an entire troop of ebony langurs and various examples of birdlife. The visitor walking path throughout Jungle World meshes well with the surrounding exhibits and provides visitors with a jungle immersed feel. Visitors also have an unobstructed ground level view of the exhibition and are able to see streams and other natural habitat structures.
My favorite animal in Jungle World is the black leopard. I can still remember visiting Jungle World as a young girl and admiring their majestic qualities. These leopards are one of the few animals in Jungle World that require some sort of protective glass barrier. A tapir in a beach like setting is exhibited across from the leopards. I also enjoyed Jungle World’s invertebrate area exhibiting scorpions, tarantulas, stick insects, toads, and beetles (to name a few!), all also housed in separate tanks.
The lower level mountain forest area gives visitors the opportunity to watch giant gourami and flyriver turtles (amongst many others) from a fish eye’s view. As you exit the exhibition, visitors encounter two very powerful pieces. Crowding out Nature tracks human population growth. The countdown (countup?) offers thought provoking caption regarding human population growth. The second powerful piece is a display highlighting the following quote:
“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum
Exhibit design is a multifaceted endeavor. Adding living organisms into the mix proves to add some additional challenges. Jungle World has been around for quite some time and is still able to capture the attention and awe of zoo visitors. I enjoyed this exhibit as a 10- year-old and like it still very much as graduate student. Jungle World offers great viewing areas for visitors, provides important content and related visuals for those looking for factual information, and (most importantly) delivers adequate housing and care for its inhabitants.