Schwerin Zoo Lion enclosure at the Red List Centre receives award

Lion enclosure at the Red List Centre receives award

Every year, the Professional Association of Zoo Animal Keepers awards the BdZ – Biber prize for outstanding animal facilities in German-speaking countries. The awarded animal facilities must convince through modern animal husbandry, interesting concepts, innovative ideas as well as

their competent implementation. The BdZ – Biber 2021 was awarded to Schwerin Zoo in April 2022 for its facility for Asiatic lions. The Red List Centre, newly opened in 2021 directly next to the entrance area of the zoo, houses the award-winning lion enclosure. The animal keepers concerned were always involved in the planning and implementation. The result is a facility that places animal welfare and protection at the center of attention and that serves as a role model overall. The architects of dan pearlman Erlebnisarchitektur, led by Kieran Stanley, are responsible for the conception and planning of the Red List Centre with its award-winning lion enclosure.

From the justification for the BdZ – Biber award for the lion enclosure at Schwerin Zoo:

“The enclosures have, among other things, grass and sand areas and a den. The larger enclosure has climbing trees, a beech grove, a pond and a heated rock. In order to be able to observe the animals better even in bad and cold weather, a “winter garden” was created. This has bark mulch as a substrate and was planted with bamboo. It also has a reclining platform and six large skylights. The large windows provide a generous view of both the conservatory and the outdoor area. The panes are covered with a scratch-resistant film and are almost soundproof.

Even behind the scenes there is enough space for the residents. A total of six indoor boxes and a smaller outdoor enclosure are available. The boxes are divided on two sides inside the house. The floor of the boxes is made of mastic asphalt, which is easy on the animals’ joints and easy to clean. The floors are cleaned daily with the hot water high-pressure cleaner integrated in the grooming aisle. During the construction of the boxes, a marble test was carried out several times to ensure that the water really flows in the direction of the drain. Each box is also equipped with a lying board at different heights. The grids are designed in such a way that no animal can hit through them. The doors to the boxes have a hatch through which feeding, and a water bowl can be inserted if necessary. At the same time, a mesh basket can be let in for medical training. The slides consist of a grid slide and a full slide and can be operated mechanically. A step has been attached to each of the pulling devices, which also helps smaller and lighter members of staff to operate the heavy slides.

There are two yellow safety lines on the floor in the groom aisle and all areas can be seen without any problems. Since the animals are not allowed in the two “public” outdoor areas at night for safety reasons, there is a “night operation” in the house. The third outdoor enclosure mentioned above is 123m2 in size. It is fully fenced, which means that the animals are also allowed to use it at night. The outdoor enclosure has removable fence panels so that a transport crate can easily be placed against the building. In addition, the wall has retaining lugs on the outside slider so that the crates can be safely docked and secured.

Night-time operation means that the lions can move from the conservatory and indoor boxes on the left side via the keeper’s walkway to the boxes on the right side and the outdoor night enclosure via a rolling gate and a specially made stainless steel crate, thus creating a circular walkway. The steel box and the rolling gate will be lowered for this purpose and secured with bolts. In addition, the electricity is switched off so that everything can no longer be moved. The stainless-steel box can also be locked on both sides, which allows for crate training. When an animal is in the crate, one can remove the crate completely and check the weights of the animals by means of a lift truck with integrated scales.

The complete facility is equipped with a complex locking system with a total of 56 individual keys. The system prevents people from working inside and outside at the same time. There are also emergency keys that could be used in the event of a medical incident, for example. If an

emergency key is used, this is directly documented. In addition, a “lamp system” indicates the operating mode in the house. (Yellow = someone is in a facility, blue = night operation, red = emergency). The winter garden and the litter boxes are video monitored. Each entrance into the facility has a lock. There is a ventilation system for the inner areas and the lighting consists of LED lamps.

Even a separate feed kitchen has been included in the building. This has a visitor’s view, a high-pressure cleaner, a sink, stainless steel work surfaces and two refrigerators with freezer function. At the time of the visit, there were three alternating fast days per week and the feed is constantly adjusted to the body weights of the animals. When available, whole-body feedings are also readily provided. The integrated self-drinkers are each equipped with a water meter to check how much the animals really drink.

At the spacious viewing areas for the visitors, numerous information possibilities are offered, e.g., display boards with various information on e.g., habitat, behavior, and threats. In addition, there is a touch screen monitor where all information can be called up as well as, among other things, lion roars.

All in all, a good foundation stone for the successful breeding of the endangered Asiatic lions has been laid here at Schwerin Zoo. We say congratulations and wish all the best!”


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