To mark it’s 55th Anniversary, the Welsh Mountain Zoo – National Zoo of Wales, has revealed plans for a state of the art £1 million development, ‘The Silk Road’.
The project will see a complete redesign of the Zoo’s snow leopard enclosure, to become a representation of the mountainous regions in which the endangered species lives. The Silk Road will forge links with China and the Himalayan mountains exploring the Chinese culture, language, environment and species that originate from there.
The snow leopard enclosure will be designed to offer visitors a nose to nose visual experience through glass, whilst an elevated walkway will journey around the site, offering panoramic views across the Zoo and to the Carneddau Mountains.
This unique project goes way beyond what is considered to be a typical Zoo project, creating a visually stimulating experience fused with cultural and factual signposting and information.
Nick Jackson, Director at the Welsh Mountain Zoo explains: “Silk Road is an incredibly important project for us that not only gives a new home to our snow leopards, but delves far deeper into the natural habitat and the wider environment in which this species lives.
With our wonderful pair of breeding snow leopards, we have through the years becoming increasingly involved in conservation campaigns and projects to raise awareness of their endangered status, now having made an annual commitment to support the Snow Leopard Trust. Silk Road will help highlight their position in the wild, whilst creating an exciting and innovative enclosure that will form an important part of the Zoo’s future .”
In association with Bangor University and the Confucius Institute, the project will explore and educate visitors on the culture of China. Following on from this an interactive mobile device app will also connect zoo visitors to the project by taking them on a journey down the Silk Road – encountering plants, animals, people, stories, and culture as they explore the connections between the flora and fauna of North Wales and China. Incorporating mixed reality, real-time updates, and gameplay, the app will invite zoo visitors of all ages to step into another world: that of the Silk Road.
Whilst work is set to begin on the project later in the year, a Crowdfunding campaign will be launched next month to support the build programme. The target for this campaign has been set at £200,000 and these funds will be crucial in helping the Zoo meet its £1 million goal for the project as a whole.
Nick added: “We are a forward thinking charity and Silk Road reflects this. The crowdfunder route is an innovative and relatively new conecpt in fundraising and therefore offers strong synergy and good potential with our own ambitions within this project.”
He concluded: “No other zoo or wildlife attraction in the UK (we believe) has taken a similar imaginative leap in combining the zoo community’s traditional offers of biodiversity protection and tourism/ leisure experiences, with the wider macro political and trade interests of two very different nations.”