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Marwell Wildlife, Winchester

Marwell Zoo, near Winchester, is currently constructing a brand new exhibit; Wild Explorers, which when completed will allow visitors to marvel at white rhinos, scimitar-horned oryx and Grevy’s zebra.

Marwell Zoo currently is home to hundreds of species of animals including giraffes, tigers and penguins, as well as a 140 acre park, train and three adventure playgrounds. Guests can enjoy daily talks and animal feeds as well as the site’s cafés and gift shops.

The zoo is now in the process of actively conserving three iconic species which are to be housed in the zoo’s newest exhibit. The enclosure will illustrate to visitors how these animals are studied and observed in the wild.

The site previously contained a bat house and oryx enclosures which will now form part of the Wild Explorers exhibit.

The new facility will offer unrestricted views and ‘spy in the grass’ cameras allowing guests to enjoy stunning views of the animals, from near and far, from the raised observation boardwalk.

Another part of the project will see the construction of a discovery zone, complete with a safari vehicle resting by the water hole. This zone aims to awaken visitors inner explorer as they are taught how to radio-track, to decipher clues from bones in the sand, and identify individual zebras through their unique stripes.

Works began on the £3 million project in October last year and it is set to complete by July 2016. Marwelll Zoo has worked alongside main contractors Stoneham Construction Limited and Terence O’Rourke Architects to make their Wild Explorers vision a reality.

The scheme has involved the construction of three single storey animal houses, covering 800m2 and 240m2 of interconnected covered visitor access, as well as the building of an external raised walkway, animal enclosures and large communal animal paddock.

The onsite team are using structural steel frames with concrete floors to build the enclosures and new facilities, as well as block and concrete walls and composite panel roofs. The exterior of the building has been finished with timber clad and painted walls.

Bespoke steel-frame stalls are being constructed for the animals with indoor viewing and interactive interpretation displays in the guest areas.

The zoo have used sustainably sourced materials wherever practical including PV solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems and an ex-army lorry as the rhino viewing point.

As the site is located in the centre of the zoo good site safety control has been the main priority of the onsite team, with visitors and staff in the surrounding areas considered during all of the construction works to ensure safety.

The project also involves the construction of individual large hard-surfaced landscaped enclosures for each of the three species, as well as a water-hole with waterfall, real and artificial rockwork, large communal fences and landscaped communal paddock.

Guests to Marwell Zoo can experience the African wilderness first hand at Marwell’s newest and biggest exhibit to date – Wild Explorers. What’s more, the exhibit will offer covered areas for exhibitions and education sessions plus a new, themed play area for children to practice their new ranger skills.

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