TOPEKA ZOO -- Thursday, January 12, the Tropical Rainforest at the Topeka Zoo will temporarily close to the public. The rainforest is undergoing several construction projects that will expand and repair the facility.
The first of these construction projects, which began last December, will expand the holding area at the back of the building. Once the holding area is completed, the rainforest animals will be transferred to this area and construction on the rainforest roof will begin. The glass triangular panels that make up the roof surface have become cracked over time. These panels will be replaced and other repairs will be done as necessary.
Construction is expected to be completed by the beginning of summer 2012. "We are sorry to have to close the rainforest to the public, but the construction is necessary for the safety of the animals and visitors," said Brendan Wiley, zoo director.
The Topeka Zoo's rainforest is currently home to nearly 100 different species of plants, birds, reptiles and mammals. Many of the animal species are native to South America, while many of the birds are Neotropical. The wide variety of plant life in the rainforest is representative of many parts of the world.
For more than 35 years, the Topeka Zoo's rainforest has been a major tourist attraction in Kansas. Opening in 1974, it was the first and largest rainforest building of its kind. Designed as a Crystogon dome, the building won an award from the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA). The award was for outstanding achievement in the area of exotic animal display, exhibit technique and design innovation.