About the exhibit questions
About the Animals questions
About the Construction questions
About Conservation questions
About Raising Resources questions
About the exhibit project
Q: What is the zoo’s “Asian Tropical Forest” Initiative?
A: Asian Tropical Forest (ATF) refers to the zoo’s $21 million initiative—part of its More Wonder More
Wild comprehensive fundraising campaign—to make capital and operational improvements to the zoo’s
Tropical Asia bioclimatic zone that currently includes tiger and Asian bear exhibits, Elephant Forest and
Trail of Vines (orangutan, siamang, tapir). The tiger and Asian bear exhibits within this zone are the
primary areas targeted for capital redevelopment.
Through the Asian Tropical Forest Initiative, the 60-year-old infrastructure that critically endangered tigers
and Asian bears currently inhabit at the zoo will be replaced with a new, state-of-the-art tiger and sloth
bear exhibit complex, known as the Bamboo Forest Reserve. Currently in the design phase, the new
exhibit complex will transform an outdated area of the zoo into a dynamic, naturalistic destination connecting
more than 1 million zoo visitors each year to the diverse animals of tropical Asia and the work the zoo and its
partners do to protect them.
Modeled on the theme “Sharing the Forest: People are the Conservation Solution,” the new exhibit
complex will empower and inspire visitors with up-close animal encounters, hands-on learning and links
to meaningful conservation actions visitors can take to build a better future for wildlife. Using sustainable
design, the exhibits will provide tigers, sloth bears and other species representing the biodiversity of the
region with a naturalistic, enriching environment that evokes the lush forests of tropical Asia and
encourages natural behaviors in the animals such as stalking prey, foraging for food and caring for young.
Q: Why is the zoo building a new tiger and sloth bear exhibit?
A: Plans to create a new home for tigers and Asian bears at Woodland Park Zoo were identified in the
zoo’s Long-Range Physical Development Plan, which was passed unanimously by Seattle City Council in
October 2004 after an extensive, five-year public involvement process. The new exhibit complex will
transform the 60-year-old, outdated infrastructure into a state-of-the-art, spacious and naturalistic exhibit
environment. The transformation will improve the exhibit experience for the zoo’s animals, visitors and
staff, and will reduce resource consumption with sustainable design.
Q: What part of the world is depicted in the exhibit?
A: The tiger and sloth bear exhibit complex is modeled after conservation field work stations in the range
countries of Malayan tigers and sloth bears. In particular, the exhibits take inspiration from naturallandscapes
and human-built structures in Northeast India (part of the sloth bear’s range) and Malaysia (part of the Malayan
Q: How much will the project cost?
A: The zoo is seeking to raise $21.86 million for the Asian Tropical Forest Initiative, part of the zoo’s More Wonder
More Wild comprehensive campaign. The project costs include funding for design and construction of the new tiger
and sloth bear exhibit complex ($19.6 million), exhibit enhancements in the Elephant Forest ($1.25 million),
interpretive enhancements to improve the visitor experience in the Elephant Forest and Trail of Vines exhibits
($560,000), as well as related education and conservation programming ($450,000).
Q: How big will the exhibits be?
A: The new tiger and sloth bear exhibit complex will be built in the same part of the zoo that tigers and Asian bears
currently inhabit, replacing the outdated exhibits and building upon the existing footprint of the area with more
efficient use of space. The complex will occupy 2 acres in total, making it the largest new zoo exhibit since the
opening of Trail of Vines in 1996. The complex includes 9,000 square feet of outdoor exhibit space for tigers as
well as additional indoor and outdoor holding spaces—totaling more than twice the current space allotted to tigers
at the zoo. Similarly, the space for sloth bears will more than double with the creation of 7,600 square feet of outdoor
exhibit space as well as additional indoor and outdoor holding spaces.
Q: Who is designing this exhibit?
A: After a call for qualifications in 2010, Studio Hanson/Roberts was selected to join Woodland Park Zoo as the
exhibit designer for this project. Studio Hanson/Roberts recently worked with the zoo to design the Humboldt penguin
exhibit, opened in 2009, which won the national top honors Exhibit Award in 2010 from the Association of Zoos &
Aquariums. Berschaeur Phillips, a company that also worked on the Humboldt penguin exhibit, won the bid for
general contractor in summer 2012.
Q: What makes this exhibit innovative from other exhibits at Woodland Park Zoo or other zoos?
A: Woodland Park Zoo is a recognized pioneer in naturalistic zoo exhibitry. In 1979, the zoo opened the first naturalistic
gorilla exhibit in the world, establishing a prototype for immersive exhibits that evoke the natural habitats of wild
animals—a model that has shaped the zoo’s many award-winning exhibits including African Savanna, Trail of Vines,
Tropical Rain Forest and Northern Trail. The new tiger and sloth bear exhibit complex is the latest example of the
evolution of exhibit design, incorporating not only the zoo’s tradition of naturalistic environments but also innovative
features such as the ability to show animal training sessions in public, and to make conservation connections for zoo
visitors that turn local action into global impact.
One great example of innovation is training walls, which will bring the behind-the-scenes care of these animals
into the forefront for zoo visitors. The exhibit design includes specialized training stations where
keepers will interact one-on-one with tigers and bears. These training presentations will get visitors closer
to live predators than at any other exhibit at the zoo, and provide insight into how the zoo safely cares for
such large and dangerous animals.
See the natural instincts of these animals kick in when they interact with enrichment opportunities
throughout their exhibits. Current concepts in the exhibit design will see tigers stalk “prey” as they chase a
lure line that runs the length of the exhibit, jostle trees to retrieve snacks, and hunt live fish in a shallow
pool. Sloth bears will use their sense of smell and dexterity to retrieve food hidden in digging pits. They
will eat marrow from bones they break open in a specially designed bone-breaking pit, slurp grubs out of
logs and put their vacuum-like eating style to work at a keeper-assisted feeding demonstration.
Sounds of the Forest
To take immersion to the next level, entering the lush tropical landscape of this exhibit complex will more
than engage your senses of sight and smell, but also will draw you in with the symphonic sounds of the
forest. Through state-of-the-art acoustic engineering, visitors will be surrounded by the real sounds of
flowing water, wind blowing through bamboo thickets, and even the minutest sounds of the animals—
breathing, coughing, purring, licking, eating and deep rumbling.
Woodland Park Zoo’s commitment to tigers and the diverse Asian forests they represent goes beyond the
walls of the zoo and extends to field work in Asia where the survival of this species hangs in the balance. 3
To connect the zoo’s 1.2 million visitors with real opportunities to make a difference in Asia and here at
home in the Northwest, Woodland Park Zoo’s new exhibit complex will serve as a conservation
headquarters, bringing to life for zoo visitors how the zoo’s Asian field conservation partners and local
communities are saving wild animals and habitats. At the exhibit’s Conservation Action Center, visitors
can take actions that make a difference, whether by taking the Tiger Pledge, supporting the zoo’s tiger
conservation program or learning about smart consumer choices that protect forest habitat here and
around the globe.
Q: Are there any visitor amenities in the new exhibit complex?
A: Visitors will find benches and rest areas within the exhibit complex, and an interactive filling station for
their water bottles. The nearest restrooms can be found at the nearby West Entrance.
Within the exhibit complex, an interpretive building with a view into an animal exhibit will provide
opportunities for educational programs and other public and private functions in a year-round, indoor
About the animals
Q: Will there be other animals besides tigers and sloth bears in the new exhibits?
A: Yes. Woodland Park Zoo is building a 2-acre exhibit complex that will reflect the biodiversity of the tropical
forests of Asia. While the complex will feature a Malayan tiger exhibit and a sloth bear exhibit, within the complex
the zoo will also depict the diversity of the region with the addition of Asian small-clawed otters, an aviary (featuring
the Malay great argus, collared finch-billed bulbul, red-billed leiothrix and common shama thrush), and snake-
necked turtles and invertebrates. Woodland Park Zoo has consulted with its accrediting body, the Association of
Zoos & Aquariums, as well as other accredited zoos to identify appropriate species with a high conservation
value and Species Survival Plan cooperative breeding/conservation programs in which to participate.
Q: How will this exhibit improve the welfare of the zoo’s animals?
A: The new exhibits are designed not only to provide a spacious, naturalistic home for tigers and sloth
bears, but also to encourage their natural behaviors and accommodate multiple generations—from birth
to old age.
Enrichment opportunities within the exhibits will enable the animals to express the full range of their
individual capabilities, develop mastery with increasing levels of challenge, and remain fit. Current
concepts in the exhibit design will see tigers stalk “prey” as they chase a lure line that runs the length of
the exhibit, jostle trees to retrieve snacks, and hunt live fish in a shallow pool. Sloth bears will use their
sense of smell and dexterity to retrieve food hidden in digging pits. They will eat marrow from bones they
break open in a specially designed bone-breaking pit, slurp grubs out of logs and put their vacuum-like
eating style to work at a keeper-assisted feeding demonstration.
Q: Are sun bears going to be included in the new exhibit complex?
A: No. Woodland Park Zoo is seeking to deepen its commitment to and involvement in the Association of
Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan captive breeding programs for Asian bears. To become a center
for endangered Asian bear breeding, the zoo needs to use exhibit space more efficiently to allow for
multiple generations of bears, and account for the need to separate bears that may not be compatible
outside of breeding season.
With this need for space, it became apparent that Woodland Park Zoo could not provide such facilities for
both species of Asian bears currently kept at the zoo—sloth bears and sun bears. Therefore, the animal
management team at Woodland Park Zoo consulted with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and other
institutions participating in Asian bear Species Survival Plans in order to determine the most appropriate
species to maintain in the zoo’s collection. Based on an extensive set of criteria including ease of visibility
for viewers, record of success in breeding, suitability to the exhibit environment, and other factors, the zoo
determined the sloth bear as the best fit to maintain in the new exhibit complex.
The zoo will phase out sun bears from its collection, seeking to place the zoo’s current sun bears into
other Association of Zoos & Aquariums-accredited zoos around the country. Sun bears will no longer be
on view at Woodland Park Zoo some time in the spring of 2012.
Q: Why is the zoo replacing Sumatran tigers with Malayan tigers in the new exhibit?
A: Woodland Park Zoo worked in consultation with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and other zoos
participating in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding program for tigers to determine the most
appropriate tiger species for Woodland Park Zoo to maintain in its collection. The zoo’s current pair of
Sumatran tigers is past their reproductive years, and new animals needed to be identified to occupy the
exhibit in order to participate in the SSP breeding program. Working with SSP partners, Woodland Park
Zoo will be able to identify a breeding pair of Malayan tigers available to move to the zoo at the
About construction and opening
Q: When will you break ground on construction?
A: On September 18, 2012, the zoo broke ground on the exhibit complex and proceeded to begin phase one
construction. More than 250 zoo supporters from the broader community, including public officials, philanthropic
leaders, members, families and school children joined the ceremony.
Q: When will the exhibits open?
A: Because this is a large-scale transformation, the exhibit complex is planned to open in two phases. The zoo
is targeting a May 2013 opening for the first phase of the exhibit complex, and anticipates a summer 2014 opening
for the second and final phase.
Q: What will the two phases of the exhibit include?
In May 2013, phase one of the exhibit complex will open to the public, featuring a new east-west pathway, Asian
small-clawed otters exhibit, and children’s nature-play area. Recently it was decided to include a new tropical
aviary in phase one, instead of phase two. The larger and final phase two of the exhibit is anticipated to open in
summer 2014 and will include the remaining components of the planned complex with exhibits for sloth bears,
Malayan tigers, reptiles and invertebrates.
About conservation and education
Q: What will people learn through this exhibit?
A: In addition to learning about the fascinating natural history and adaptations of the species represented in the
exhibit, visitors will learn how these animals depend on forests to survive, what impact humans have on the
forest landscape, and how we can all share the forest. The zoo will be testing specific messages and learning
objectives through formative evaluations with zoo visitors and select groups throughout 2012 to shape the most
effective educational program for the exhibit.
Q: What is the conservation message of this exhibit?
A: The exhibit is designed around the theme “Sharing the Forest: People are the Conservation Solution.”
The exhibit uses engaging techniques to present the urgent conservation issues of habitat degradation
and human-wildlife conflict to visitors, and promotes a sense of hope thanks to the conservation
successes in the field that will be brought to life within the exhibit. Feeling part of the solution, visitors will
take action inside the exhibit’s Conservation Action Center where they can take a pledge to protect
forests here and around the world on which tigers and other wildlife depend. To show how local actions
have global impact, the exhibit will draw parallels between the human-predator conflict with tigers in Asia
and the human-predator conflict with cougars and wolves in North America, and encourage local-minded
actions that will serve as a model for global attitudes.
Q: Is the zoo going to get a new conservation partner in tropical Asia?
A: Woodland Park Zoo currently supports several field conservation projects in tropical Asia, which you can
learn more about at www.zoo.org/conservation. As part of the new exhibit effort, in 2012 the zoo established
an agreement with Panthera, a global big cat conservancy, to save Malayan tigers and their critical habitats.
The collaboration is spearheading a 10-year, $1 million investment in on-the-ground scientific research, training,
field work and community capacity building to save endangered Malayan tigers in and around Taman Negara
national park in Peninsular Malaysia. The partnership’s day-to-day work and achievements will touch the hearts
and minds of Northwest communities through the new exhibit’s Conservation Action Center, where 1 million
annual visitors will learn about the work on which scientists, communities and governments are collaborating to
save this magnificent tiger.
Q: Are there sustainable design elements incorporated in this exhibit?
A: Woodland Park Zoo designs with the environment in mind. Continuing the innovative filtering
techniques used at the zoo’s award-winning Humboldt penguin exhibit, water features and systems in the
new exhibit complex will be based on the principles of biomimicry by which streams and ponds are filtered
naturally through a series of settling ponds and constructed wetlands. These systems are at the forefront
of sustainable design and conservation strategies in the Pacific Northwest, replacing the inefficient
practice of dumping and refilling water features.
With the addition of a Conservation Action Center and an interpretive building for school and private
programs, the zoo is investigating strategies to mitigate the additional carbon footprint of these buildings,
aiming to achieve carbon neutrality over the life of the exhibit. The zoo is also looking to reduce energy
consumption in the current felines building and other holding areas in the exhibit complex by choosing
more efficient lighting and heating strategies.
About raising the resources to build the exhibit complex
Q: How is the zoo funding the new tiger and sloth bear exhibit complex?
A: Woodland Park Zoo is primarily seeking private funding to complete this capital and programmatic
initiative through the zoo’s More Wonder More Wild comprehensive fundraising campaign. Funds for
ongoing operation of the exhibit will come from the zoo’s annual operating budget, which comprises sales
revenues, membership, donations, grants and public support.
Q: What is More Wonder More Wild?
A: The zoo’s $80 million comprehensive fundraising campaign is known as More Wonder More Wild. More
Wonder More Wild is made up of eight programmatic and capital initiatives that integrate visitor experiences,
naturalistic exhibits, animal care, field conservation, educational opportunities, environmental sustainability
and technical innovation. The seven-year campaign includes the now complete initiative to build a new Humboldt
penguin exhibit and West Entrance, which were opened in 2009 and 2010, respectively, the Asian Tropical Forest
initiative to build a new otter, tiger and sloth bear exhibit complex, as well as support for many animal care,
education, conservation, and sustainability initiatives.
Q: What’s included in the $21.86 million fundraising initiative for Asian Tropical Forest?
A: The zoo is seeking to raise $21.86 million for the Asian Tropical Forest initiative, part of the zoo’s More
Wonder More Wild comprehensive campaign. The project costs include funding for design and
construction of the new tiger and sloth bear exhibit complex ($19.6 million), exhibit enhancements in the
Elephant Forest ($1.25 million), interpretive enhancements to improve the visitor experience in the
Elephant Forest and Trail of Vines exhibits ($560,000), as well as related edducation and conservation