Fresno, CA.: At the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, an animation video previews the upcoming Kingdoms of Asia attraction. It’s playing on a big screen TV near where the entrance of the exhibit will be.
“Guests are transported to a lush jungle landscape, teeming with sights and sounds,” an announcer says, as the video pans over to show trees and wildlife exhibits.
The exhibit will feature 11 species native to Southeast Asia, including orangutans, komodo dragons, tigers and sloth bears. It will be designed to look and feel like the iconic Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
The entrance is modeled after the famous entrance of the ancient temple, says Dean Watanabe, Chief Conservation Education Officer at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
“They have where the stones are stacked, which is where it gets this really distinctive look and has these really tall features.”
At the construction site, he points to the first part of a wall that’s been built to replicate the temple’s tiered design. It will be one of several buildings at the exhibit that will be built to look like the ancient grounds.
For now, there’s a lot of work ahead. A construction crew is busy inside the fenced off zone, located at the center of the zoo.
The $38 million project comes from Measure Z, a 1/10th cent county sales tax that benefits the zoo.
“So, the idea was proposed if we themed it after Angkor Wat, which is in Cambodia. And so as we started to really think about it, the idea came, it’s like, ‘well we could do a lot more than just theme an exhibit. We should work with our community here,’” he says.
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