Hellabrunn’s Polar World reopens: New building, pool, and very cool
After a two-year construction period, the site fencing for the second renovation phase of the Polar World was finally removed and the animal house reopened to the public on Friday, 8 September 2017. Visitors will now be able to enjoy new facilities such as the new enclosure for the South American sea lions as well as meet the new residents: mountain hare, Arctic fox and snow owl now live in three enclosures, which visitors can reach by walking across a wooden walkway.
"With today's opening, we are also proud to celebrate the completion of the first geozone of the planned new layout of the zoo according to the geozone biodiversity concept. After the Elephant House, this represents the second important milestone in the Hellabrunn Master Plan," said Christine Strobl, Mayor and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, on Friday at the zoo. "The Polar World now houses all the animals of the polar regions in one place. In addition to the previous residents such as polar bears, penguins and South American sea lions, I am especially pleased with our new additions - with the snow owls and mountain hare, Hellabrunn offers visitors an opportunity to meet two completely new species." Even the Arctic fox, which previously lived with the big cats, has now moved into the Polar World, where he lives together with a new female. In the neighbouring enclosure dwell the hares - and according to a popular German expression true nature exists where the fox and hare bid each other goodnight.
Visitors to the new Polar World will now be able to experience the animals up-close: in the case of the Arctic fox and mountain hare only a wooden walkway separates them from the animals, while they can experience the snow owls up-close in their aviary. The snow owl enclosure is designed without glass; instead its sides and roof are made of wire rope mesh.
In 2010, the completion of the first renovation phase of the Polar World already made it one of the most modern polar bear enclosures in Europe. The design for the complete refurbishment of the second area was realised by the company Rasbach Architects. Peter Rasbach, a specialist zoo architect, placed great emphasis on a nature-inspired design based on the polar animals' natural habitat. For example, the South American sea lion enclosure features rocks and plant stems to replicate the coastal cliffs of Chile, while the landscape of the tundra and taiga was brought to Hellabrunn with the log cabin and the design of the surrounding enclosure.
Behind the scenes, the enclosure was also upgraded with state-of-the-art technology: a new, underground filter system provides crystal-clear water to ensure visitors have a good view of the sea lions when swimming. "The installation of the filter system eliminates the need for regular cleaning of the pool, which makes the animals much more relaxed and stress-free," explains zoo director Rasem Baban. "It has also allowed us to considerably reduce the use of chemicals and use water - an important resource - much more sparingly."
The zoo has also completely upgraded the educational concept for the Polar World. On the one hand, visitors can learn interesting facts about the special characteristics and adaptations of the animals in their natural icy habitat in the polar regions. On the other hand, they can explore interactive elements such as a thermal imaging camera in the Trappers Hut. Furthermore, the exhibit Aquarium Full of Plastic and info panels raise awareness about the threat to our oceans and their inhabitants through increasing pollution. Zoo director Rasem Baban adds: "The exciting exhibition highlights the threat to cold habitats and raises awareness about the link between human activity and climate change. In this way, we aim to fulfil our educational mission as a zoo."
Animal lovers are invited to visit the new Polar World at Hellabrunn Zoo with its nature-inspired rock and tundra landscapes. The completion of the second renovation phase has created a harmonious geozone in the southern part of Hellabrunn Zoo.