A MULTIMILLION-POUND tropical house powered by animal waste has been unveiled.
Marwell Zoo spent £7.8m on an ‘Energy for Life’ Tropical House which will become the first in the UK to generate energy using ‘zoo poo’.
Head of infrastructure Kevin Morse said: ‘It is a marked change for Marwell and this is going to be a fully interactive experience.
‘You go in and you are in a tropical environment – the heat, the sounds. We have made it as immersive as possible.
The new exhibit at the zoo in Colden Common is home to a sloth named Rica, mouse deer, pygmy marmosets, tortoises and free-flying birds. There is also an aquarium with 2,500 fish, a crocodile monitor lizard and a science gallery.
Animal collections manager Ross Brown said: ‘Getting the animals in was a challenge and creating an environment that they could live holistically with each other.’
The house is due to open to visitors on Monday next week.
Ross added: ‘I can’t wait to see the public’s reaction. It is going to be amazing and make all the hard work we did worthwhile.’
There are future plans to get mates for Rica and the mouse deer as part of a breeding programme, as well as more species to be introduced to the Tropical House.
James Cretney, Marwell Zoo’s chief executive, explained ‘We spend £140,000 a year getting waste off site and we have lots of bills for heating water and buildings here at the zoo so we thought actually there is a solution in the middle of that.
‘We are concentrating on how nature can solve many of society’s problems and in this case how to extract energy from waste.’
The tropical house, which took 18 months to build, is part of a 10-year £17m investment plan to create improved habitats for animals, more immersive visitor experiences and to help the zoo achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral in 2020.
Rainwater from the curved roof is harvested in two 50,000-litre tanks to provide water inside for the aquarium and plant watering, making the building self-sufficient.
James added: ‘We have tried to get as many species in here as possible to get on with another, and have them in the way where there aren’t barriers and fences everywhere.
‘It means you can get those magic moments where you get close to nature and I think that is terrific.’