Mangrove World at Hellabrunn Zoo
This week Hellabrunn Zoo opened a new exhibit called Mangrove World. The new facility in the Jungle Pavilion informs visitors about the flora and fauna found in the unique habitat of mangroves such as mudskippers, archerfish, freshwater pipefish and four-eyed fish. The exhibit Mangrove World is sponsored by the Lebendige Erde (Earthlife) Foundation.
Mangrove forests occur along warm tropical and subtropical coastlines in areas with low and high tide. They provide unique ecosystems that support a wealth of species: the trees above the water level provide a habitat for reptiles, birds and mammals, while below the water surface the roots offer a safe environment for the larvae and juveniles of a variety of fish, crabs and shrimp.
The exhibit in the Jungle Pavilion will also include trees and shrubs from different families of plants found in mangrove forests. The tree species found in mangroves play an important role in reducing the CO2 level of our planet by sequestering large amounts of organic carbon from the atmosphere and releasing it into ocean. Mangroves absorb an estimated three to five times more carbon dioxide than rainforests.
"We greatly appreciate the generous support from the Lebendige Erde (Earthlife) Foundation, which enabled us to create the new exhibit and educational offerings. This further underlines our educational mission and the educational facilities we provide for visitors at Hellabrunn zoo,“ said zoo director Rasem Baban. Sabine Walker, the foundation manager, adds: "We are delighted to join forces with Hellabrunn Zoo to raise awareness about the threats to mangroves and educate visitors about the importance of this unique habitat."
In the last 20 years, over a third of the world’s mangrove forests has been destroyed, disappearing at an even faster rate than the rainforests. This is largely due to a rise in industrial shrimp and crab farming, as well as clearing for rice, palm oil and coconut plantations, and coastal developments such as hotels.
The destruction of mangrove forests has a dramatic impact on the entire marine ecosystem. In areas where mangroves have been cut down on a large scale, this has resulted in a sharp decline in coastal fishery yields as the deforestation also destroys the breeding areas for the fish. The natural coastal protection provided by mangroves against tidal waves, flooding and erosion is also lost.
The Mangrove World exhibit at Hellabrunn Zoo is situated in the Jungle Pavilion, opposite the gorilla enclosure. The exhibit features artificial waves to recreate the movement of ocean water, thus providing an optimal environment for the mudskippers, archerfish, freshwater pipefish and four-eyed fish.