Work on San Diego Zoo’s new ‘Wildlife Explorers Basecamp’ enters final phases

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Zoo is highlighting progress on a new 3.2 acre “basecamp” ahead of its expected unveiling early next year.

The Denny Sanford Wildlife Explorers Basecamp is under construction at the site of the former Children’s Zoo. The team at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said the project is entering its final phases with a grand opening scheduled for February 2022.

Zoo leadership chose the name to represent their desire for the new area to serve as a launch pad for budding conservationists of all ages. The design aims to appeal to a broader audience while still capturing the hearts of young explorers.

Renderings from the zoo show some of the four types of habitats highlighted at the basecamp — rainforest, wild woods, marsh meadows and desert dunes. Each will feature unique wildlife and up-close interactions with nature.

Visitors can learn about arachnids, crustaceans and insects in the rainforest area. It also features native bees and other animals, such as sloths, that live under the cool rainforest canopy. Young visitors can then head over to the wild woods section for a unique play experience. A 20-foot “ancient oak tree” will greet guests as they explore a suspension bridge, net tunnel and water play area that includes a waterfall grotto and splash pad.

Marsh meadows will introduce zoo visitors to a variety of plant life, while boulder play is the highlight of desert dunes. Children can climb all over this area, exploring cool caves and searching for hidden reptile sculptures and petroglyphs.

“We want to play a role in building future conservationists by creating lasting memories that inspire empathy and curiosity; encourage innovation, collaboration, resilience and optimism; and shine a light on the interconnectedness of the health of wildlife, people and the environment they share,” said Nadine Lamberski, DVM, chief conservation and wildlife health officer at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

The wildlife alliance said almost 3,100 donors contributed more than $87 million to the construction of Wildlife Explorers Basecamp.

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