Zoos traditionally hold animals in distinct enclosures into which visitors can peer. Newly unveiled designs for Givskud Zoo in Denmark, however, look to shake up this model. Zootopia will feature open landscapes for the animals into which visitor viewing points and routes will be built in a way that minimizes conspicuous barriers.
The Zootopia concept was conceived about five years ago in a workshop amongst Givskud Zoo staff, with help from design and conceptual agencies. Architectural work begun about two years ago and has been carried out by Big Architects.
The zoo has three areas representing Asia, Africa and America set within 120 ha (1.2 sq km) of land. Its design seeks to minimize the number of conspicuous barriers between animals and visitors. Visitors to Zootopia will be able to move between the three different zones using a network of walking and cycling trails.
More traditional safari-style tours will be used when viewing wild animals such as lions, with guests able to step out into safe-zones to view the animals up close. In the same way that viewing areas for visitors will be built into the landscape, so too will accommodation for the animals.
"The most special feature is the we want to eradicate all experience of fences and buildings, making Zootopia the universe of animals." director of Givskud Zoo Richard Østerballe told Gizmag. "Hopefully [it will be] a unique experience where people meet the animals in their universe and not in the traditional zoo experience."
A central circular building will contain amenities such as a restaurant, a shop, a ticket office and toilets. From this central point, visitors will be able to either go out and explore the park or climb on top of the building and look across the park from a high vantage point.
The entrance into each of the continent zones is through three different gates from the central building. In addition to following the trails, visitors will be able to travel by boat through the African zone and by cable car through the American zone.
Østerballe says it will take an estimated 20 years to complete Zootopia, assuming funding can be secured. A partial opening is planned for 2019 during the 50th anniversary year of Givskud Zoo.