The fin-footed inhabitants of the Moscow Zoo will soon move to a new, spacious home. It will be built near the Elephant House in the old section of the zoo. Sprawling over 5,400 square metres, the Pinniped complex will have six pools in which artificial waves will be generated.
The new enclosure will accommodate seals, eared seals, fur seals and walruses and even white whales (a toothed whale species). Its design concept has already won the approval of the Moscow Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning with construction scheduled to begin later this year.
“No zoo either in Russia or in other former Soviet republics has similar enclosures. Director of the Hamburg Zoo Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck, a well-known German zoologist, helped us design this project down to the smallest detail. Dr Hering-Hagenbek’s zoo has an enclosure for pinnipeds, which has successfully operated for years, delighting zoo-goers,” said Sergei Kuznetsov, Moscow’s Chief Architect.
Sea mammals from the Russian North will be able to stay in the new enclosure all year round. There will be six outdoor swimming pools between 3.5 metres and seven metres deep, filled with sea water and equipped with a special temperature control system that will keep the water at the required temperature. The water will be cleaned daily using modern technology that will preserve its biological properties.
In order to create conditions as close to wildlife as possible, artificial waves will be generated in each of the swimming pools. For example, fur seals and eared seals are very fond of somersaulting on waves. Guests will be to watch the animals from the closest possible distance in a special observation area level with the water surface.
“As we worked on the Pinnipeds enclosure, we strove to create, above all, the most comfortable environment for the animals. So, one of the tasks was to build special indoor shelters for the animals to retreat if they need some privacy, for example, when giving birth to or nursing their babies. For these purposes, we designed an artificial cliff, inside which females and their offspring can feel safe and comfortable,” Svetlana Akulova, General Director of the Moscow Zoo, told reporters.
The aim of the project is to create favourable conditions for the accommodation, exhibition and study of unique sea mammals included in the Russian Red Data Book and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, she added.
The artificial cliff will have rooms for animal keepers and technical rooms with equipment for taking care of fur seals, seals, eared seals and white whales.
The Moscow Zoo boasts more than 1,000 animal species and over 8,000 animals. Every year, the zoo welcomes new arrivals, including very rare species, from various continents, while constantly improving its infrastructure.
Another project that will go ahead this year is an insectarium, the largest in Europe, where guests will be able to enjoy the singing of field crickets and grasshoppers and marvel at the beauty of tropical butterflies and the bioluminescence of lighting bugs all year round. The insectariums will have around 200 species of invertebrates.
On top of that, the zoo is planning to build two ultra-modern enclosures, Arctic and Amazonia, offering a unique opportunity to travel to hot and humid South America or the cold and harsh Arctic at any time of the year.