In the first quarter of 2019, visitors who visit Rio’s Zoo in Quinta da Boa Vista will participate in a safari on a 400-meter-long boat ride down an artificial river. The attraction will take place in the 12,000-square-foot savannah area, a biome that will have species such as zebras and giraffes – which currently no longer exist in the area and will once again enchant children and adults – as well as wildebeests. This will be the first of the six biomes that will form the new park to be delivered to the public. The demolition of the old space for sea lions, in early June, marked the beginning of construction.
At an announced cost of US$17.3 million, the improvements will be funded by Grupo Cataratas, as foreseen in the 35-year concession contract, signed in 2016, with Rio’s city hall. The intervention, which will be completed by the end of 2019, aims to adapt the area of the zoo – whose entry will cost just over $9 after the end of the modernization project (currently a ticket is around $5) – to the new model around the world: the inverse enclosure, where visitors traverse smaller areas and animals share wider areas, rather than cages, similar to the natural habitat of these species.
“Rio’s zoo is quite old. We’ve arrivat at the concept of a more modern zoo. There are examples of zoos that are world landmarks, such as the one in San Diego. All these attractions already exist in other zoos. We want to build a brand new zoo by searching for the best ideas out there. In the project, the area for the public is smaller than it is today because it’s currently disproportionate. We’re going to reduce it without causing discomfort. The objective is to greatly increase the space for animals, with the so-called inverse enclosure”, said Bruno Marques, president of Grupo Cataratas.
According to him, there will be no significant increase in animals. In addition to the almost 1,200 that already exist, zebras and giraffes and, in the future, rhinoceros should be added to the zoo. The entire project must be completed by the end of next year, says Bruno Marques:
“Our intention is to do the project in three phases. We should already open the first phase in the first quarter of next year, a second in the middle of the year and the last one by the end of the year.”
During the renovation, the zoo will be partially open, from Friday to Sunday and also from 10am to 5pm, with the closing of the ticket office at 4pm – the new opening hours were adopted about a month ago in preparation of construction. Before, the Zoo was open from Tuesday to Friday. It is expected that, after completion of construction, the zoo will receive 1.3 million visitors per year. Last year, there were 700 thousand visitors.
MORE THAN 100 SPECIES OF BIRDS
In the bird biosphere, the first area will be the visitors’ walk in the future, a large nursery of approximately 3,000 square meters. More than 100 species will be divided into three biomes: Atlantic Forest, Pantanal and Parrots. There will also be the option of a canopy circuit. The sensation will be of an immersion in a large rainforest, says the concessionaire responsible for its management.
During the visit, the biosphere for reptiles and insects will be the second stop. These environments will be made of vegetation, with turtles, snakes and alligators. The biosphere for felines and canines promises to enclose the visitor. Tigers, lions, jaguars and wolves will be observed through glass tunnels. The area will be over 7,000 square meters.
One of the bets of the new park will be the elephant biosphere. Access to the area, where the largest land animals will be, will be through gazebos, tunnels and acrylic aquariums. The space will have waterfalls and walkways with a 360 degree view for the public. Beyond elephants, bears and marine animals will have lakes and transparent tanks. The concessionaire also promises an aquatic ballet of penguins.
“It will be one of our greatest attractions. Inside, we will make a deep acrylic pool so the audience can see how the elephants behave in the water. We will do the same thing with the hippopotamus – said the president of Grupo Cataratas.
Fazendinha will be kept as a place for the education of children so they can have close contact with animals. This is where the little ones will learn, for example, where the milk and eggs come from that are part of their food.
Grupo Cataratas has been in charge of the management of the zoo since 2016. The company is responsible for the management of visitation at Iguaçu National Park. Throughout the 35-year concession contract, the concessionaire says it will invest $34.7 million in the construction of the site (including the $17.3 million in this reform). The estimate is that, over the contract period, the city will receive a return of $347 million, considering the payment of taxes, investment in city patrimony, the generation of jobs and reduction of the city’s expenses. Just between 2017 and 2030, the direct return to the city should be $41.9 million.
VISITORS RECEIVED TOUR PASS
Two visitors in love with the Rio Zoo received an unlimited one-year visitation pass from the current administration. Actor André Sebastião Santos, 29, who owns a blog about the park since 2009, was one of the chosen ones.
“I created the blog because the zoo’s old site was very outdated, with little information about the animals. So I decided to create the blog to update it. I’ve lost count of how many times I visited the zoo. I think the zoo will look really pretty,” says André.
Leandro Henrique Simões, 10, has also lost count of how many times he has visited. The answer is “many,” since the first time he was on the spot was when he was still a year old, and since then, Leandro has celebrated his birthday there. With the reform, he hopes to see the giraffe and penguins again:
“I like Simba (the lion) better, but I miss the giraffe and the penguins.” I’m very excited. I want to do the boat trip (in the Savana area).
RIO’S ZOO IS THE OLDEST OF THE COUNTRY
The Zoo of Rio de Janeiro is the oldest in Brazil, at 78 years old. The area is located in the Quinta da Boa Vista Park, former residence of the Portuguese imperial family. The city obtained the space on March 18, 1945. One of the most striking images of its construction was the imposing gate built at its entrance, which can be seen in the landscape of some paintings from the imperial period. The gate was offered by an English nobleman as a wedding gift to Dom Pedro I and the future Empress Leopoldina.
Despite being the oldest that’s still active, the current zoo was not the first in the country. The activity of showing animals and trying to bring a bit of wildlife into the city began on January 16, 1888, when the Baron do Drummond founded the first Brazilian zoo in Vila Isabel, with an area of streams, artificial lakes and an extensive collection of animals.
Over the years, however, it created financial difficulties. The maintenance of the animals became difficult and to solve the problem, Baron do Drummond created the “jogo do bicho“, attracting the attention of visitors, residents of the neighborhood and, later, of the whole city, who placed their bets in the morning and checked the results in the afternoon.
The Baron of Drumond’s initiative, however, was not enough to save the ancient zoo, which ended by closing its doors in the 1940s. – Source (PT)
Note: That Brazil’s first zoo was built in Rio in the late 1880s is debateable, although in the 1640s, Recife’s Palácio de Friburgo was technically under Dutch rule at the time.