Meerkat Mania at Chehaw Wild Animal ParkAug 1, 2010
This spring marked the completion of Chehaw Wild Animal Park’s newest guest experience with the opening of a meerkat exhibit and an adjacent interpretive play area. Designed and built in-house, the exhibit features an open-air viewing deck from which guests can watch the meerkats dig and forage and climb through tunnels in termite mounds to keep a look-out from the highest vantage point. A glass viewing area offers a glimpse of the animals’ underground life in the burrow. The night house building was constructed with “green” building practices in mind by repurposing materials left over from previous projects and incorporating an energy saving vegetative roof, planted with a variety of drought resistant flowering plants.
Nearby, children can learn firsthand what life as a meerkat is like by mimicking their behaviors in an over-sized termite mound complete with eighteen inch termites, a lookout point with a spyglass for sentry duty, and a spiral slide inside for a quick getaway. A parent-friendly maze interprets life in a burrow system. As they wind their way through, young visitors experience various encounters with things like a giant scorpion, a litter of baby meerkats, and an eagle on the hunt threatening from above. Kids can pretend to dig like a meerkat with the toy excavator in the sandy play area in the center of the maze.
The project was funded in part by a grant from the Home Depot Foundation and contributions from local businesses, and is proving to be a favorite with zoo visitors.
For more information contact Deidra Langstaff at (229) 343-1366.
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