Taronga Zoo’s Lemur Forest Adventure is one of Taronga’s most intimate and memorable visitor experiences, through an experientially rich project, which brings together play, education and interpretation. The recently constructed project is now open to the public.
The place based design collaboration led by Hill Thalis and Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture, on the site of the former seal pools, brings together lemur welfare and conservation, interpretation of place, animal conservation, the wonder of forests, their threat from human deforestation, as well as discovery and beauty within forests.
The project celebrates Taronga Zoo’s remarkable location and harbour orientation, and responds to the natural theatre and drama of the site. The placement of primary structures, works with the lower path geometry to emphasise captured views of the exhibit when approaching from the east and west.
The welfare of the lemurs is a first order design consideration. Their enclosures and play environments are configured to be comfortable and hospitable, and to allow individual lemurs to expand their happy socialisation to include visitors at their discretion. The project includes a Forest Walk Through, Lemur Walk Through and Night Quarters.
The entry into the exhibit and Forest Walk Through along a primary zoo pathway is marked with a circular roof canopy and playful coloured poles.
The forest structure includes an elevated viewing platform, sun shading, slide and spiral stair. Access onto the structure will be along a suspension bridge over the shallow water play stream. The structure is positioned in the terrain to achieve a pronounced 3m level difference from observation outpost level to the viewing platform above.
Entry to the Lemur Walkthrough is beside a sheer sandstone cliff and under a cantilevered waterfall structure. The lemur play structure enables lemurs to move freely between sandstone bedrock ledges and sunning island. The structure includes ropes, for lemur play, and timber platforms and enclosures for lemur display and sun soaking.
The lemurs will also be housed in night quarters. Each dens simple orthogonal plan is articulated vertically with a roof cone to funnel pools of sunlight to the interior spaces.