By Jez Abbott
Children are to be let loose in one of the world’s most famous zoos to climb trees and walk among llamas and prairie dogs as part of a £3m new landscape.
The redesign of London Zoo’s children’s zone will include tree-canopy viewing platforms for children to look at racoon-like coatis jumping from branch to branch.
Landscape architect Jennette Emery-Wallis said: “We are targeting seven- to 11-year-olds, an age group notoriously difficult to attract to anything.
“The client wants to break down barriers between animals and children. Youngsters will climb trees to look at coatis and enjoy walk-throughs in zones for goats, prairie dogs, llamas and sheep.”
The existing children’s zone, a farmyard-type attraction, had been copied elsewhere and a new concept was needed, said Emery-Wallis, principal landscape architect at Land Use Consultants (LUC).
“We are trying to be as eco-friendly as possible and will use mostly native plants, with a few exotics to define the various enclosures, designed by artists and crafts-people.”
Building work is due to start on the zoo’s south boundary, next to Regent’s Park, this summer. It is expected to be completed in 2009.LUC won a competitive tender to redesign the 5,000sq m site.
The project forms part of a major master-plan for the client, the London Zoological Society. A gorilla kingdom was opened last year and a new lions’ enclosure is being designed.
“We have worked with English Heritage to ensure the children’s zone ties in with the overall zoo design by Decimus Burton,” said Emery-Wallis.
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