Last week we were lucky enough to attend the opening night of the new Tropical House at Marwell Zoo.
Powered by “zoo poo”, the innovative and sustainable “Energy for Life” Tropical House is the first in the UK to generate energy using waste created by animals at the zoo.
The Tropical House looked stunning in the golden evening light and I can only imagine how gorgeous it will look when the plant life establishes itself outside the building.
You are greeted by large screens depicting moving images as you head inside the first door, which the kids were fascinated by.
You enter the Tropical House itself through a heavy black curtain and it offers a real “WOW” moment as you admire the scene in front of you.
The Tropical House spans two levels with vantage points all along the walkways that allow you to admire the residents and exotic plants as you walk along.
Our first encounter was with Rica, the resident sloth who dozed her way through our entire visit, completely unaware of the excitement around her.
There were interactive screens dotted along the trail which allowed the kids to find out all the information on the house and its residents which include yellow-throated frogs which we could hear but not see, as they were hidden in the waterfall and a group of cute pygmy marmosets who live on their very own island above the exhibit’s impressive 70,000-litre aquarium, home to 2,500 fish.
The lush canopy of plants and bustling forest floor are also home to Javan chevrotain (Mouse Deer), tortoises and free flying birds.
Also in the Tropical House are a colony of leaf cutter ants and a crocodile monitor lizard, who was all tucked up in bed so we didn’t get to see him.
The exhibit is part of a ten-year, £17 million investment plan to create improved habitats for animals, more immersive experiences for guests and to help the zoo achieve its goal of being carbon neutral by 2020.
In the lower half of the Tropical House you have great views of the aquarium which is the largest freshwater aquarium in the UK and its inhabitants.
Next door is a really interesting room which highlights how they are using animal waste (dung, soiled bedding and leftover hay) and converting it to be used for renewable energy for the zoo.
It is a really unique visitor experience and with animals to see and then learning some of the science behind renewable energy and how we can work together to save the planet.
The groundbreaking project features a woodchip boiler that will be supplemented by a specialist boiler capable of burning straw-based animal manure later this year. This will provide heating for buildings and enable the charity to reduce its carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels.
The kids were fascinated by the technology, but their favourite part of the Tropical House had to be the arrival of rain………lots of rain!!
With 100s of animals – including giraffes, tigers & penguins, 140 acres of park to explore, a train and 5 adventure playgrounds, Marwell really is a great day out for all the family.
A Family Ticket (2 x adults and 2 x children) to Marwell costs £62.05 and Children under 3 go FREE and over Easter you can take part in the Giant Egg Trail. Find the GIANT egg and count the animals for a chance to win four tickets to their sunset safari this summer!