For Release: April 28, 2004
Peper Long 202-673-0206; 202-390-8798
Carolyn Martin 202-673-0209
National Zoo Breaks New Ground for
Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat and Asia Trail
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo broke new ground today, April 28, on the future site of the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat, the first step in a 10-year renovation of the Zoo.
The first phase of the Zoo’s renovation is called Asia Trail, and will cover nearly a quarter of the Zoo’s public exhibit area. Asia Trail is anchored by the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat – a state-of-the-art, expanded outdoor habitat for Washington’s beloved giant pandas. Much of the design of the new habitat is based on behavioral data collected by National Zoo researchers during the pandas’ first years at the Zoo.
Other species along the Asia Trail will be sloth bears, fishing cats, clouded leopards, red pandas and giant salamanders. All exhibits will incorporate creative design elements that will help visitors make the connection between these endangered or threatened species and the science that helps us to understand them.
“For more than a century, the National Zoo has offered the public an exciting place to visit. It’s a vibrant place, an oasis of nature in an urban environment, a place where family and friends gather to learn and have fun. With this new panda habitat and Asia Trail, the Smithsonian will continue to offer the public an enriching educational experience,” Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence M. Small said.
“The expanded Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat is representative of the entire Asia Trail,” National Zoo Director Lucy Spelman said. “It will bring visitors close to the animals and allow us to share more information about our giant panda conservation research, both here and in China.”
Fujifilm, the lead corporate sponsor of the Zoo’s giant panda program, continues its dedication to conserving and protecting giant pandas through its $7.8 million commitment to the Zoo, and its award-winning conservation education programs that reach millions of children.
“It is our hope that the 2 million annual visitors to the National Zoo will take away not only beautiful memories of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian but also a strong knowledge of what it takes to protect the entire species,” said Stanley Freimuth, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Fuji Photo Film, U.S.A., Inc. “Science and conservation education is the essence of our partnership with the National Zoo and Friends of the National Zoo.”
ceremony, dignitaries planted trees called dawn redwoods (Metasequoia
glyptostroboides) that will be part of the new outdoor yards
the giant pandas. Native to China, dawn redwoods are often called
living fossils because the species was known only by fossil records
until the discovery of
a small grove in China in 1946.
Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat
The current outdoor area of the Fujifilm panda habitat is 17,500 square feet and includes both an air-cooled grotto and a water-cooled grotto, which the pandas have enjoyed during their summers in Washington. The new state-of-the-art habitat will nearly double their outdoor area, and will include a slide for the pandas to roll down, cooling rocks for lounging, and foggers that will mimic the environment in their native habitat.
Fujifilm’s support helped bring the giant pandas to Washington in December 2000, and is helping Zoo scientists learn how to ensure the survival of the giant panda in the wild. Fujifilm’s $7.8 million donation supports the expanded giant panda habitat, and the comprehensive conservation education programs designed to help children and adults learn more about giant pandas and the conservation of wildlife and their habitats. Friends of the National Zoo, the National Zoo and Fujifilm have developed education programs and materials that have reached an estimated 7 million students with conservation messages.
Phase I of the Asia Trail
The first phase of Asia Trail will cost $34 million to build. Two-thirds of that amount will be paid with federal funds; one-third from private donations. Joining the giant pandas along Asia Trail I are sloth bears, red pandas, clouded leopards, fishing cats and giant salamanders (a new species for the Zoo). The Zoo’s sloth bears need this new home, since their previous Zoo residence, built in the late 19th century, had fallen into severe disrepair. Their Asia Trail home will be a place where visitors can appreciate the bears’ unique, disheveled beauty and unusual eating habits, which revolve around a diet of termites, ants and fruit. Plans for the second phase of Asia Trail are underway, and will include an expanded area for the Zoo’s Asian elephants.
Note to editors: Drawings of the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat and other Asia Trail exhibits, as well as photographs of the six Asia Trail species can be found at the following ftp site, which will be active until Friday, April 30.
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