Gorillas in New York's Congo and Grizzly Bears in Minnesota's Russian Coast: A Conversation


Lee Ehmke has helped elevate zoo habitat design to new heights both as a designer and a director. “I think it’s very critical how things are designed,” he said. “You can have a space full of enrichment but it can still be artificial and sterile. You need to make great spaces for animals with their welfare front and center but also integrate conservation messages into these spaces, which to me includes realistic replications of the animal’s natural habitat.” Ehmke became influential in the zoo field when serving on the design team for the Wildlife Conservation Society/the Bronx Zoo. His breakthrough came when he served as project manager on the acclaimed Congo Gorilla Forest, a tour de force in immersive habitat design. Ehmke served as director at the Minnesota Zoo for fifteen years and transformed the zoo with new groundbreaking habitats and a newfound focus on conservation. He is now director at the Houston Zoo where he is taking an already great zoo to the next level.

@ Lee Ehmke

“Zoo design was a second career for me,” Ehmke said. “I went to law school and practiced environmental law for a few years but have always been passionate about zoos.” In the early 1980s, he became aware of the emerging field of immersive zoo habitat design. This new approach concentrated on recreating the native environments of animals at zoos through landscape design and making an animal’s environment as natural as possible. Ehmke soon felt enticed to become part of this growing trend. After meeting with some professionals at the San Francisco Zoo and being blown away by the revolutionary naturalistic gorilla and African Savanna habitats he saw at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, he “decided to go back to school and become a zoo designer.”

@ Scott Richardson

“It was a major jump into the unknown but it turned out very well,” Ehmke reflected. “I did my landscape architecture degree at Berkeley and got a small grant to develop my thesis- a design project for a zoo.” The project brought him to the East Coast, home to the magnificent Bronx Zoo in New York. There he went to an informational interview with Bronx Zoo design legend John Gwynne which “soon turned into a job interview.” Gwynne was a key designer of JungleWorld, an indoor rainforest transporting visitors to Southeast Asia which particulary impressed Ehmke. “The level of detail and immersive guest experience were taken to a level never seen before,” he said. “It was a signal moment in zoo design from the perspective of true reality, scale and authenticity. The integration of the conservation message was better done there than just about anywhere else.” Ehmke was hired to be on the Bronx Zoo’s design team in 1988.

@ Scott Richardson

Under the leadership of zoo legend Dr. William Conway, the Bronx Zoo had established itself as a frontrunner not just in zoos but also in global conservation. “It was the very best time to be there,” Ehmke said. “The New York Zoological Society was being transformed into the Wildlife Conservation Society so field conservation projects were expanding dramatically. Lots of major new habitats were being developed and the field work informed a lot of the habitat design of the zoo. I got to work on some of the most amazing zoo projects ever.” Sometimes Ehmke and the rest of WCS’s design team did projects completely outside of the nation. “The design department was asked to help design interpretive centers with live animals in the field,” he explained. “Some of my most treasured memories are spending time in Kenya and Uganda redesigning animal orphanages and building these modern zoo-based centers aimed at reaching local African audiences.” This was a zoo that was beginning to have a profoundly broader scope and vision than its site in New York.

Julie Larsen Maher @ WCS

The first exhibit Ehmke helped design at the zoo was a renovation of the zoo’s old Elephant House, renamed Zoo Center. “It was one of the first Asian elephant habitats that actually showed them in a forest,” he commented. “We did habitats for Sumatran rhinos and Malayan tapirs as well and redid the indoor space.” While the Zoo Center was considered good when it opened, it no longer houses elephants as they have since all been moved to the Wild Asia monorail ride. “It was good for its time but they came to realize no matter what the interior spaces wouldn’t be big enough,” Ehmke explained. “It no longer became considered an appropriate space for elephants so now they have white rhinos in there.”

@ WCS

Immediately after Zoo Center, Ehmke worked on Baboon Reserve, the largest primate habitat in the nation at its opening. “I wasn’t there for the preliminary design but I worked on the final design and actually building it," he remembered. "It’s unique and focused on an environment- the Afro-montane grassland- that wasn’t typical zoo subject matter. It works very well.” The Baboon Reserve features gelada baboons, Nubian ibexes and rock hyraxes in a realistic recreation of the Ethiopian highlands. Rolling hills, rocky slopes and a stream create the perfect playground for the baboons to forage, explore, play and interact.

@ WCS

Integrating multiple groups of baboons was a challenge. “Each troop of baboons had to be introduced to the habitat individually,” Ehmke recalled. “At one point there were three separate troops of them coexisting. The population is significantly less at the zoo than when it opened but I know they’ve brought in some new geladas from Europe and have started to breed again. I’m hopeful it will be full of geladas again soon.” Several interpretive themes were integrated into the Baboon Reserve through features such as a hominid dig fossil dig, animal artifacts like hyena scat and a nest of ostrich eggs, and believe it or not a real elephant skeleton. “It was very topical when we used a real elephant skeleton since the ivory ban had just been put into place,” Ehmke said. Baboon Reserve won the AZA Exhibit of the Year award in 1991.

@ WCS

Throughout the 1990s Ehmke worked on a variety of projects for the Wildlife Conservation Society both by designing new habitats in New York and interpretive centers around the world. Some of these included a renovation of the Bronx Zoo’s reptile house and a new seabird aviary featuring terns, cormorants penguins. “The Seabird Colony replaced the old flight cage that collapsed during a winter storm,” he mentioned. However Ehmke spent most of the decade as project manager of the biggest project in the zoo's history, Congo Gorilla Forest. The zoo decided to replace its gorilla habitat from the 50s- which was “old and needed to go-“ with a state-of-the-art recreation of a Central African rainforest that many consider the best habitat complex ever built at a zoo.

Julie Larsen Maher @ WCS

From the beginning, Congo Gorilla Forest was a project that put the spotlight on field conservation and the need to save species and ecosystems from extinction. “Congo in many ways is a story of how you do conservation,” Ehmke explained. “Dr. Conway really wanted an exhibit that would give a true sense of what it’s like to be active in conservation, what the process involves and how visitors could be part of that. The dedication of funding generated by the exhibit going to support field conservation was something he pushed hard for early on.” This idea materialized in a unique exhibit entry fee directly donated to in situ conservation in Central Africa. At the end of the trail, visitors choose which of four projects they want their $5 entry fee to contribute towards.

@ Scott Richardson

While the theoretical vision might have come from Dr. Conway, it was Lee Ehmke who led the design team. “I had a lot to do with it but there were a lot of other creative minds as well,” he said. “We had access to WCS field scientists from Central Africa whose story we essentially told in Congo. I went to Uganda to see the gorillas in their natural environment and talked to the field biologists at work.” The design process for the complex was quite a long one and many different ideas were explored. “Some of the earlier ideas were having visitors outside on a trail and having discrete views of the gorillas,” Ehmke explained. “The reality was we needed a major winter holding facility and the complex was right on the edge of the zoo’s property with busy streets and tall buildings right outside. So we decided in the last iteration of the design to have a large portion of Congo have visitors inside looking out at the gorillas.”

@ WCS

@ WCS

While visitors are outside in a forest when they see the okapis and colobus monkeys, they go inside to see the mandrills, red river hogs and gorillas along with a diverse variety of African forest reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. This decision turned out to have great payoffs. “This really helped in controlling the sightlines,” Ehmke elaborated. “It creates the sense you’re looking out at a forest that goes on forever. You’re tucked into the building so you are completely unaware you are in a city. Part of what makes Congo great is the primary viewing areas are adjacent to the indoor holding spaces where the gorillas tend to congregate, but in a way that visitors are not aware there is a building- no doors or containment of any kind is visible.”

@ WCS

The climax of Congo Gorilla Forest is a tunnel where visitors are surrounded by up to twenty gorillas. One of the main focuses Ehmke had with designing Congo was to have it tell a great story and move in a theatrical manner. “The sense of choreography is great,” he explained. “You build up to the experience of being up close with the gorillas and then going in the tunnel. Each experience is a bit more powerful than the last. JungleWorld has a similar kind of choreography by having each experience around every corner more exciting than the one that came before.”

Julie Larsen Maher @ WCS

The design team also built the perfect environment for the gorillas to thrive. “Congo is distinguished by its level of detail and the seamlessness between natural land forms and vegetation and artificial ones,” Ehmke elaborated. “You can’t tell when the real ends and the artificial begins.” When visiting this part of the zoo, visitors discover gorillas interacting in large social groups just as they would in the wild. However, an ongoing problem to be solved with Congo Gorilla Forest was what would happen during New York’s winters when the gorillas would not be able to go outside. “Initially we were supposed to build a seasonal habitat for gorillas and that’s how we started the design process,” Ehmke commented. “Late in the process it was decided we needed to accommodate some winter viewing. At that point we had essentially designed the entire holding building so the only way we could do a winter viewing area was to have a little naturalistic alcove in their holding space. There’s a much larger, two story indoor space not visible to the public.”

Julie Larsen Maher @ WCS

Congo Gorilla Forest opened in 1999 to unprecedented critical acclaim both in and out of the zoo field and won the AZA Exhibit of the Year award in 2000. Since that time, several gorillas have successfully been born and raised there and millions of dollars have been raised for insitu conservation in the Congo through the entrance fee. As project manager of Congo, Ehmke began to get noticed by the wider zoo field and was hired to be director of the Minnesota Zoo in 2000. Having proven himself an influential designer at one of the most prestigious zoos in the world, it was now time for him to be the leader in revitalizing a zoo.

@ Lee Ehmke

About thirty minutes away from the Twin Cities, the Minnesota Zoo opened on 485 acres in 1978. It was meant to be the zoo of the future and used groundbreaking habitat design. However, by the time Ehmke got there, “it had really not delivered” all the way in terms of public engagement. “The zoo was built in the 1970s when raw, unadorned concrete was pretty prevalent and that style of architecture hasn’t aged particularly well,” he commented. “Much of the original master plan was not developed so large stretches of the zoo did not have much going on. It was an encyclopedic zoo missing a lot of its volumes.” Ehmke recalled that many directors shied away from the Minnesota Zoo since it did not have the best relationship with the state government in terms of funding. However, he “was relatively young and they took a chance on me and I took a chance on them. I feel very good about the things we were able to accomplish.”

@ Minnesota Zoo

@ Minnesota Zoo

At the time and to a lesser extent today the zoo almost exclusively focused on cold-weather animals. “The zoo did not have a lot of charismatic tropical animals,” Ehmke recalled. “The original master plan had called for six enormous tropical buildings for each continent, one of which was built.” Even more problematic, much of the zoo was not very appealing or engaging for guests. “The perception of the zoo was that animals either had these giant exhibits where you could never see them or just had concrete,” Ehmke elaborated. “We needed to change that.”

@ Minnesota Zoo

Ehmke was determined to take the zoo to new heights and worked diligently to get the zoo more support financially. “I made the case with state legislators that the zoo was an important investment,” he said. “I would spend a lot of time at the state capital telling the zoo’s story and getting them out there to see it.” To do this, the zoo needed to have better, more intimate and interactive experiences. For decades, the zoo has been renowned for its Amur tigers and role in their conservation. However, when Ehmke came to Minnesota, it was often quite hard to see the tigers well or truly learn about them. “The tiger habitat back then was quite good but lacked good viewing and interpretation,” he recalled. “The Minnesota Zoo was famous for its conservation of tigers but when I came there was just one small sign for them.” Therefore, one of Ehmke’s first projects was renovating the tiger habitat and making it better for guests.

@ Scott Richardson

“What we did was build a new structure with glass viewing in the cool, shady area where the tigers tended to congregate,” Ehmke said. Tiger Lair used the same principle done successfully in Congo Gorilla Forest of having the primary viewing area adjacent to entries to holding areas. This allowed visitors to get much closer to the cats than ever before. Ehmke also found ways to make the two tiger habitats better for the tigers as well. “We added lots of enrichment such as the heated rocks and the fake moose carcass feeder,” he said. These features are conducive to natural tiger behavior and enhance their experience living in a replication of the Russian wilderness.

@ Minnesota Zoo

@ Minnesota Zoo

“We also added lots of interpretive features about our involvement in tiger conservation,” added Ehmke. “The very first Species Survival Plan ever done by the AZA was with Amur tigers and it was started at the Minnesota Zoo when it opened in 1978. The late Ron Tilson, who was our conservation director for many years, focused on tiger conservation and did a lot of great work for them in the wild.” The zoo was instrumental to raising awareness in Indonesia to the plight of Sumatran tigers. Today the zoo is still a leader in tiger conservation by coordinating the Tiger Conservation Campaign under the leadership of current Vice Present for Conservation Dr. Tara Harris.

@ Minnesota Zoo

Having proven the zoo could provide great experiences with Tiger Lair and a seasonal meerkat habitat, the Minnesota Zoo was able to gets it first big allocation of funds in 2005. “The zoo was able to secure big funding for Minnesota Trail and Russia’s Grizzly Coast,” Ehmke said. Next the zoo reimagined Minnesota Trail, one of the original parts of the zoo. “The animal spaces were quite good but it was designed so you were in a cold austere corridor looking into the habitats,” he explained. “That was the model of many zoos in the 1970s. We broke that barrier down by bringing naturalistic elements into the public area and adding an interpretive layer to that. The most important change was the aesthetic change of the guest spaces- making them warm, interesting and full of context.”

@ Scott Richardson

@ Minnesota Zoo

When Minnesota Trail opened in 1978, it gained attention in the zoo world for its state-of-the-art beaver dam and river. The beaver habitat and many other animal spaces stayed in the 2007 renovation but new animals such as wolves, coyotes and bald eagles were added. A few years later a wilderness habitat for black bears was added. “We had hoped to do a black bear habitat initially but we didn’t have the funds for it,” Ehmke said. “A few years later we got some donors and added it to the end of the trail. The fence is hidden and there is plenty of naturalistic space with a lot for the bears to do and up close viewing for visitors. All the habitat’s elements were rendered very well and have built in enrichment opportunities.”

@ Minnesota Zoo

@ Minnesota Zoo

Lee Ehmke lead the zoo to its largest expansion ever with the opening of Russia’s Grizzly Coast, the first habitat complex at an American zoo to focus on Russian wildlife. It spectacularly recreates three distinct zones of the Russian Far East: the Pacific Coast, Volcanic North and Forested South. The project was a brainchild of Ehmke’s and features grizzly bears, Amur leopards, sea otters and wild boars. “If you’re going to design a habitat I think it’s best if you can zoom in on a specific place rather than a general idea of Africa or Asia,” he elaborated. “I like to do something more discrete so you can tell a better story and make it more believable. Russia’s Grizzly Coast is much more specific than let’s say Asia. It’s a believable situation- all those animals might be found in relatively close proximity and having them together tells a more complete story of the place and the ecological relationships.”

@ Scott Richardson

Ehmke used his strong background in exhibit design to bring the quality of Russia’s Grizzly Coast to perfection. “It gives you an opportunity to look very closely at geology, vegetation and even some human elements,” he said. “We really focused on getting those details right.” Visitors start exploring the region by going to the Pacific Coast. Here they find sea otters swimming in an incredible replication of their native deep underwater caverns. “Otters are in constant motion so we needed to figure out ways for them to have food hidden in places they had to work to get it,” Ehmke commented. “Our design team built artificial shells to put food in. The sea otters can play with them and destroy the kelp, which is fun for them. There’s a lot of interaction between the otters and the keepers, which is important for active animals who are eating almost constantly.”

@ Minnesota Zoo

Next visitors go to the Volcanic north where they find grizzly bears in one of the most naturalistic and enriching habitats ever built for their species. They live in a space that recreates the rugged Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia complete with a geyser and a massive riverbed (where guests can see the bears swim through underwater viewing.) It also features a variety of features specifically tailored to the welfare of the grizzly bears. “Bears like to swim, dig, climb, eat and catch fish," Ehmke elaborated. "They like to have a sense of their surrounding through their nose and eyes. All those elements were integrated into the design. We put fish into the pool for them to catch. They have high points where they have a great view over the zoo. I’m sure they can even smell the McDonalds three miles away up there. We built shaded digging areas where they can create hollows to cool off midday. We added real deadfalls and elements they can take apart.”

@ Minnesota Zoo

When it came to getting grizzly bears for the new habitat, the zoo wanted to find a group of animals who were compatible. “We worked with the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Service years in advance,” Ehmke recalled. “We took orphaned and abandoned cubs and brought them together at the Alaska Conservation Center. They grew up together and act as if they’re siblings. When they came to the zoo, they acted as a cohesive social group and were very active. We were able to do a lot of training and enrichment with very early on. They have always been in a good space, together, well cared for and well trained.”

@Minnesota Zoo

The last zone of Russia’s Grizzly Coast is the Forested South, home to the elusive, stealthy Amur leopards. “Leopards were challenging since so much of their natural behavior revolves around hunting, which you can’t do in a zoo,” Ehmke explained. “They also rarely interact with each other in the wild. So we had feeders put in at hidden spots and put in lots of high spaces where they can climb in three separate but linkable habitats.” The zoo is an active participant in Amur leopard conservation and has successfully bred the endangered big cats.

@ Minnesota Zoo

Russia’s Grizzly Coast turned out to be a huge success and was very well received by the public and zoo field alike. It even won the 2009 AZA Exhibit of the Year award and has been regarded as one of the best exhibits of its kind. Russia’s Grizzly Coast led to greatly increased attendance and revenue, which as Ehmke pointed out, “led to more money for conservation.” The zoo even got “some good funding from the state to do great conservation programs for Minnesota wildlife.”

@ Minnesota Zoo

However, while the Minnesota Zoo was getting better than ever, Ehmke’s time at the Minnesota Zoo was not without controversy or crises. “You need to be honest, forthright and available,” he candidly said. “You need to tell the story and be truthful. In the end that’s the best answer to any crisis situation. Things happen- it’s a reality of an institution like a zoo.” One of the biggest obstacles the zoo faced during Ehmke’s tenure was controversy surrounding the zoo’s dolphin program. Since its opening in 1978, the Minnesota Zoo had been home to bottlenose dolphins and they were among the most popular animals at the zoo. However, some unrelated dolphin fatalities encouraged some people who were convinced the dolphins should not be there.

@ Minnesota Zoo

“The difficult thing with the dolphin situation was it was very clear a large portion of the population had made the judgment it’s not appropriate to have cetaceans in human care,” Ehmke said. “I could read the writing on the wall when it came to dolphins. We were simply not in a position to acquire new dolphins and the facility needed to be massively renovated. It made sense to get them to a new social situation.” In 2012, the zoo decided to relocate its remaining dolphins to new homes and end its dolphin program. This decision was received with very polarized reactions. “Half of the people were saying dolphins shouldn’t be in human care at all while the other half love seeing dolphins at the zoo and were confused why we were taking them away.” In the end, after major repairs to the pool, Discovery Bay has now become a home for a group of un-releasable Hawaiian monk seals, who serve as ambassadors for their very endangered wild counterparts.

@ Minnesota Zoo

Despite issues like the dolphin controversy, Lee Ehmke continued to build stronger community support for the zoo and make it better for animals and visitors alike. One of the ways he did this was by redeveloping much of the Tropics building. “Originally Tropics was only home to Asian species,” Ehmke explained. “The original plan when the zoo was built was to have five more of these megabuildings each devoted to a continent, which was simply not practical. So we rethought the building by focusing on multiple tropical zones. I removed the sun bears and clouded leopards, which had spaces I felt were way too small and not enriching. We built new areas of the building into environments from Africa and South America.”

@ Minnesota Zoo

@ Minnesota Zoo

To solve the problem of not having many animals by the entrance, Ehmke added Penguins of the African Coast. “The habitat turned out quite well,” he said. “It’s got some unique viewing opportunities- you can climb up on boulders that look exactly like the ones on the shores of South Africa and the penguins can even swim in an alcove in an education classroom. It gives a nice sense of where these penguins live and it’s been very popular since everybody loves penguins.” In Lee Ehmke’s 15 years at the Minnesota Zoo, the “community got stronger with the zoo as it improved so much.”

@ Minnesota Zoo

@ Minnesota Zoo

As much as he loved the Minnesota Zoo, Ehmke took the opportunity to become director of the Houston Zoo in 2015, which he dubs “the fastest growing zoo in the nation for the past five or so years.” Following in the footsteps of its recently retired legendary director Rick Barongi, he saw a great foundation to build off of at the zoo. “The Houston Zoo has a conservation culture that is second to none,” Ehmke said. “The zoo is beloved and well supported by the community. The setting of the zoo is gorgeous. The horticulture is great.”

@ Houston Zoo

@ Houston Zoo

Receiving over 2.5 million visitors annually, the Houston Zoo is the second most attended zoo in the nation that charges admission. Ehmke strongly believes this correlates with the impressive amount of conservation work the zoo does and the manner in which the zoo conveys those messages. “We’re getting more interest and public support by telling the story of conservation,” he elaborated. “We’ve culturally brought the mentality into every level of the zoo. Even the people selling and collecting the tickets at the front gate are able to communicate to visitors that they are helping save wildlife. That’s been critical to getting community support and being allowed to rebuild the zoo.”

@ Houston Zoo

@ Houston Zoo

Not only is the amount of conservation the Houston Zoo does unique but so is its application of it. “Rather than just writing checks to conservation or sending people out on field programs, our model has been to find a local organization in let’s say Borneo, Madagascar or Tanzania and find ways to support them through our expertise at the zoo,” Ehmke explained. “We might even do something like help them set up a website or a banking account. We make sure there are long-term sustainable partnerships in places conservation needs to happen.”

@ Houston Zoo

@ Houston Zoo

When Ehmke came to the Houston Zoo, it had just opened Gorillas of the African Forest. It recreates a Congo forest clearing with a lush, state-of-the-art habitat for gorillas full of opportunities for them to roam, climb, forage, play and explore. Not only is the space the gorillas live in beautiful and perfect for their welfare but also around it are several educational and interpretive features about gorilla conservation. “Everybody loves the gorilla exhibit,” Ehmke said. “To me Gorillas of the African Forest is the standard to which I point to as much of the rest of the zoo is redeveloped.”

@ Houston Zoo

@ Houston Zoo

Part of the challenge of redeveloping the zoo is its size and location. “I had been used to having very large palettes at Bronx and Minnesota while here we are only 55 acres and landlocked with very urban things around us,” Ehmke elaborated. “How do you manage 2.5 million people in a site so small? Also every square inch of this place has something on it already.” However, he also sees the constraint in space as an opportunity for the zoo and design teams to be more creative. “It’s a challenge in a good way,” Ehmke said.

@ Houston Zoo

This spring the zoo completed its expansion of the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat, giving Houston a great facility to manage these large, social and complex animals. “We’ve committed in a big way to Asian elephants,” Ehmke said. “We just opened the last phase of the expansion of the elephant complex. It gives us room to manage more animals in a more enriched way. It includes a lot of bamboo planting, shade structures, artificial trees with enrichment incorporated and a great, enormous pool. It’s almost doubled our space for the elephants.”

@ Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo participates in Asian elephant breeding and has welcomed three successful births in recent years. Determined to ensure the health and longevity of these calves and ones to come in the future, the zoo has embarked on intensive studies and searched for treatment of a deadly virus that has been known to kill some baby Asian elephants. “We’ve done a lot of research on EEHV and worked with doctors at Baylor College of Medicine to find an effective treatment protocol,” Ehmke commented. “It is primarily therapy based using hydration and is very aggressive. We’ve been able to bring young animals showing signs of it back to health.”

@ Houston Zoo

@ Houston Zoo

Lee Ehmke has completed a master plan to redevelop much of the zoo and is determined for it to be world-class in a decade. He wants to replace a number of habitats that in his eyes do not live up to his high standards with ones recreating a specific natural habitat and that teach people about conservation. “We want to tie all of our exhibits to existing or proposed conservation projects around the world,” Ehmke said. “There are a number of things which need to be rethought and replaced. We’re going to replace the sea lion exhibit at the front of the zoo with a new sea lion habitat in the context of the Galapagos Islands. We have a long history of conservation programming there and no other zoo has done a mixed species zone about the Galapagos Islands. Visitors will be welcomed to the zoo by a Galapagos area featuring sea lions, brown pelicans, sharks, rays, sea turtles and Galapagos tortoises.”

@ Houston Zoo

Additionally, a pond area in the middle of the zoo will become a “Texas wetland environment” including whooping cranes, bald eagles and American alligators as well as a new café. This area will talk about “species brought back from the brink of extinction” in North America. “Patanal is going to recreate the wetlands of Brazil with jaguars, tapirs, giant otters and other wildlife,” commented Ehmke. “We’ve been supporting a lot of tapir, giant anteater and armadillo conservation and research so that will be the focus." He also plans to dramatically renovate the orangutan and black bears habitats, restructuring the bird area and finish the African Forest loop with river hippos, okapis, antelope and birds including shoebill storks. “We want to convert the zoo from a taxonomic one into a zoogeographic one,” Ehmke commented. Clearly he is not short of ambition for his zoo and is determined to elevate its status as a mecca on the forefront of animal welfare and conservation.

@ Lee Ehmke

#MinnesotaZoo #HoustonZoo #BronxZoo

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I'm a 23-year old wildlife enthusiast, conservation and animal welfare advocate, environmental activist and zoo fanatic who aspires to work in zoo public relations or education. I am here to share some insight into the world's best zoos to show all the great things they are doing. 

 

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© 2017 by Grayson Ponti