wild-design was part of the design team with the architecture firm HHCP and Ripley's Entertainment in-house designers.
That modesty disclaimer out of the way: the tunnel is awesome! It's a one of a kind feature that offers lots of fun for kids (and adults - if they dare). Check it out yourself, or let me show it to you here.
|Two penguins swimming over the all acrylic cylinder|
Below is a photo looking back to the entry. I picked a couple photos without visitors to show you how transparent the tunnel is.
acrylic floor feels softer and warmer than glass, which makes it better for crawling on, and because the floor is chemically bonded it doesn't have any joints i.e. there's no silicon edge along the glass seam. It is completely smooth and allows you to slouch down the wall towards the floor.
|Kids slouching in tunnel|
main visitor route, indicated by the orange arrow, you first encounter a large viewing panel, curved at one end and crowned by three large monitors at the other. Once you turn the corner to continue through the penguin exhibit, you can branch off into the crawl-through cylinder; marked here by a small red arrow.
I took this short clip from the main window. First you see the above water view into the exhibit then the camera dips down below the water level pointing towards the crawl-through cylinder.
Here the underwater view as a photo:
|The bright reflection on the cylinder is not visible from inside it|
explore, have an adventure on their own, but still interact with the adults on the main path.
The interaction between the child and adult happens when a kid pops up in the vertical cylinder at the end of the crawl-through cylinder and, of course, they get a great close up view of penguins.
|Children popping up in the middle of the exhibit next to penguins|
|Parents taking photos of their kids in the pop-up cylinder (orange arrow)|
|From a different angle during a keeper talk|
|Children crawling along another penguin viewing tunnel|
|Kids looking at penguins above them|
When the wave machine is off, as during the keeper talk, the water is so calm that you can watch the talk from underneath the water.
|Children watching the keeper talk from underwater|
|Penguins standing on acrylic panel|
I will continue this narrative and why this tunnel is unique with more details in a follow-up post.
Meanwhile, and in celebration of African Penguin Awareness Day, I'd like to promote a couple of links that fit the occasion.
At the WAZA website (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) you can find out what zoos and aquariums are doing to help African Penguins.
In South Africa, the penguin's native habitat, SANCOOB is helping these birds with a multitude of projects in close coordination with zoos and aquariums around the world. SANCOOB stands for Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds.
The life-story of Mrs. Althea Louise Burman Westphal, co-founder of SANCCOB, makes a great read.