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.”
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
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 ExhibitIn 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?”
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
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.
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
is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation.
Sautner 718.220.3682/ email@example.com
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
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