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Zoo Trail to Extend the Range of the Home

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June 15, 2013

Animals at the Philadelphia Zoo are getting to live more like they would in the wild.

The zoo, with 42 acres one of the largest in the U.S., has installed a series of caged trails and above-ground walkways that will allow the animals to wander from place to place (watched by zoo staff, of course). When the trail system is completed, in a few years, it will be the first such habitat-rotation system in the world.

The display system for most zoos is that animals stay in one location, for ease of care and ease of viewing by human visitors. In nearly every case, that location restricts animal movement out of necessity. But the trail system, which is also in place at other American zoos in Denver and Washington, D.C., allows for a bit of a rotation.

The rotation system wouldn't suit all kinds of animals on display at the zoo. Animals that need water or specific kinds of trees to survive might not qualify. Big cats, great apes, hippos, rhinos, and even elephants, all of which roam along the land, will benefit, though.

The first phase of the trail, which extended the existing Treetop Trail, cost $5.8 million. As a result, monkeys and lemurs can travel overhead from one set of trees to the next and birds can move more freely as well.

The second phase of the trail is expected to have a similar cost. The final phase is expected to be finished in 2017.

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