Exhibit Located in New York City’s First "Green" Renovated Landmark Building: The Lion House, a 1903 Beaux-Arts Jewel

Look into the Eyes of a Lemur and See How We Can Work Together to Save Our Planet

“Madagascar is the naturalist's promised land…There you meet bizarre and marvelous forms at every step.”
Philippe de Commerson, French Explorer (1771)

Bronx, NY – June 19, 2008 – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) today unveiled Madagascar! at the Bronx Zoo, a spectacular immersion exhibit inside the restored historic Lion House.

Madagascar! offers guests a breathtaking view of the world’s fourth largest island off Africa’s eastern coast and home to an amazing array of unique animals and plants. The exhibit features a wealth of wildlife diversity found in this island nation, sometimes called “the eighth continent.”
As visitors explore the exhibit, they will see a 13.5-foot, 800-pound Nile crocodile lurking in a limestone cave; acrobatic ring-tailed lemurs leaping in a spiny forest; and more than 100,000 Madagascar hissing cockroaches crawling in a massive baobab tree. More than 150 other animals, representing nearly 30 species, will be featured in the 20,000-square-foot building.

“The Wildlife Conservation Society’s new exhibit featuring Madagascar is a window on our conservation of wildlife in that beautiful island country. The exhibit's placement in the historic Lion House at the center of the Bronx Zoo symbolizes Madagascar’s importance to the world of wild nature,” said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, WCS President and CEO. “Each visitor to Madagascar! will walk through a 'green' building that honors our mission in New York and around the world. We hope everyone will be moved to help save wildlife and wild places.”                                                                                                                            

Madagascar President Marc Ravolamanana, a long-time ally of WCS, has made his nation a global leader in conservation through the “Durban Vision,” tripling the area of the island set aside in protected areas.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has worked to save Madagascar’s biodiversity since the early 1990s. Through its projects and partnerships, WCS protects and manages wild places in Madagascar, including the country’s largest remaining tract of rainforest, a quarter of its coastal forests, and its vast coral reefs – the third largest reef system in the world. Two of WCS’s most notable achievements in Madagascar have been the design, establishment, and management of Masoala National Park and the Makira Forest, which together make up Madagascar’s largest, contiguous protected area.

The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Government of Madagascar recently announced a landmark agreement, where the government will offer for sale more than nine million tons of carbon offsets to help safeguard Makira Forest and fight climate change.

The rededication of the brilliant architectural legacy of the Bronx Zoo’s 1903 landmark Lion House breathes new life into the Beaux Arts jewel of Astor Court. This restoration is a major accomplishment of WCS’s $650 million Gateways to Conservation campaign. The building, once the home of the New York Aquarium and the zoo’s big cats, will also include The Schiff Family Great Hall – a spacious community meeting and event area.

The building design adapts to the functional demands of the future and incorporates new advances in animal welfare, visitor experience, conservation awareness, and science education.

In 2006, the Lion House received the NYC Green Building Award by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Additionally, the Lion House will carry the distinction of being the first landmark building in New York City anticipated to receive the US Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or green certification. Some of the green technology includes extensive use of dynamic skylights to maximize daylight and modulate the temperature in the exhibit, geothermal heating and cooling systems to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, and technologies that result in a 57 percent savings in energy and a 59 percent savings in water consumption.

The restoration of the Lion House was supported by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, former City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, Sr., former City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, New York City Council Bronx Delegation, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr., as well as the generosity of WCS public and private donors, including the New York Power Authority, The Schiff Family, Joan O.L. Tweedy, Jonathan L. Cohen, and others.

The complex design and building process of more than six years included participants from NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC,) NYC DDC Office of Sustainable Design, FXFOWLE architects, and WCS’s designers, horticulturists, and animal curators.

About the Exhibit
In the Joan O.L. Tweedy Tsingy Cliffs habitat, Coquerel’s sifakas show off their unique mode of locomotion called vertical clinging and leaping, using powerful limbs to jump from tree to tree. In the Jonathan L. Cohen Crocodile Pool, a 25-foot-wide, two-inch thick expanse of glass holds 17,000 gallons of water and allows for an up-close encounter with two huge Nile crocodiles. Small Wonders, Big Threats introduces mouse lemurs, tomato frogs, leaf-tailed geckos, rainbow fish, lesser hedgehog tenrecs, and other living gems. These exhibit spaces are set into a high-tech "theater-in-the-round" with dramatic video that shows the threats facing Madagascar.

The arid Spiny Forest is home to ten playful ring-tailed lemurs and a pair of personable brown collared lemurs. Flying freely within the exhibit are vasa parrots and red fodys. A fabricated baobab tree hosts over 100,000 Madagascar hissing cockroaches enclosed behind glass artfully angled to look as if it doesn’t exist. The Discovery Zone named for Guy Rutherfurd by The Bodman Foundation, a child-focused interactive area, provides hands-on exploration to spark curiosity and foster learning.

In Masoala, a cascading waterfall flows into a 1,000-gallon elevated pool filled with colorful cichlids. This all sets the stage for a group of vociferous red-ruffed lemurs and a lemur predator, the fossa — a unique mammal predator found only on Madagascar. As guests exit Madagascar! and return to Astor Court, they follow the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, Inc. Conservation Path, where visitors are asked, “Why Protect Madagascar?”

The Schiff Family Great Hall
The Schiff Family Great Hall is a magnificent 4,600-square-foot, multi-use space. The historic architecture has been restored with century-old trusses, two-story windows, and ornamental animal sculptures visible to guests. The venue, to be used for WCS functions, community events and private parties, has a seating capacity of 250. An Executive Meeting Room is a glass-enclosed space within The Great Hall, providing a bird’s eye view of the larger space below.

The Lion Garden on the western side of the Lion House is enhanced by the historic architecture with the sentinel lion sculptures, relocated from the original southern entrance.

Madagascar! and The Schiff Family Great Hall were made possible with support from:

The Schiff Family
Joan O.L. Tweedy
Jonathan L. Cohen
The Bodman Foundation
Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, Inc.
The Barker Welfare Foundation
Kathryn and Alan C. Greenberg
The New York Times Company Foundation
Dr. Henry C. Frick II
Richard and Cathy Miller
The Ruttenberg Family in honor of Derald H. Ruttenberg
The Edward John & Patricia Rosenwald Foundation
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn
Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr.
New York City Council Bronx Delegation
New York City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, Sr.
New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller
New York Power Authority

Madagascar!  is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation.

Contact:  Stephen Sautner 718.220.3682/ ssautner@wcs.org

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education, and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together, these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org