Philadelphia Zoo's Chief Operating Officer Invited to Visit China to Speak About Innovative New Animal Rotation Trail

Dr. Andrew J. Baker to Speak at Zoo Conference in Chengdu

September 3, 2013 – Dr. Andrew J. Baker, Chief Operating Officer of the Philadelphia Zoo, will travel to Chengdu, China, in September at the invitation of the Animals Asia Foundation to speak at the China Association of Zoological Gardens conference about an innovative first-in-the-world , multi-phase animal travel and exploration trail system in development at the Philadelphia Zoo. The new trail network provides more exciting and enriching experiences for the Zoo’s animals and visitors alike.  The first phase of the animal rotation trail, which is part of the Philadelphia Zoo’s transformational master plan, debuted in June 2011, and the trail system will continue its expansion through approximately 2020, with an extension for big cats opening next year. 
“The Philadelphia Zoo is honored that Dr. Baker has been invited to speak to an international audience about our unique animal travel and exploration system,” says Vikram Dewan, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Zoo.  “Andy is one of the world’s foremost zoo leaders, with more than 20 year of experience in the field.  By sharing information on our animal rotation network and its impact on animals and visitors, it can become a model to be replicated for the benefit of zoo animals and visitors throughout the world.  It is one way we are continuing our commitment to excellence in animal care.”
Dr. Andy Baker joined the Philadelphia Zoo in 1992 as Assistant Curator of Mammals.  From 1994 through 2001 he was Curator of Primates and Small Mammals, and from 2001 through 2008, Vice President of Animal Programs.  He graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biological Sciences, and received his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Maryland, College Park.  He is an expert on golden lion tamarins and oversaw nine years of field studies through grants from the National Science Foundation.  He is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and a board member of the Save the Golden Lion Tamarin Foundation.
“It is an honor to travel to China on behalf of the Philadelphia Zoo to share information on our new animal travel and exploration trail.  By allowing animals to travel across the Zoo’s campus, the trail network benefits them by offering more opportunities for long-distance travel and exploration, greater variety in their environment and a greater ability to determine their own experiences,” Baker said.  “The trail system also creates engaging visitor experiences unlike traditional zoo environments.”
Three types of trails will comprise the travel network.  The Treetop Trail, which opened in 2011 and was expanded in 2013, is an elevated system used by smaller arboreal species including monkeys and lemurs.  The Great Ape Trail, which opened in 2012, represents the first phase of a second, larger trail system, and allows the orangutans to explore outside their usual habitat.  This larger trail system will expand in 2014 with both elevated and ground-based components to accommodate big cats, and in the future, to include other large animals such as gorillas and bears.  A third, fully ground-based trail will engage large, terrestrial animals such as zebras, rhino, giraffe, hippos and antelopes, with the pilot for that system opening in 2015 or 2016.  In each of the systems, many of the animals will be able to rotate through each other’s exhibits, making maximal use of space through time-sharing, in some cases crossing visitor paths, or over them, to do so.  “Destination exhibits” will be added in the future, creating new environments for animals to travel to at the far end of the zoo.
In designing the trail projects, the Philadelphia Zoo has collaborated with CLR Design of Philadelphia and Jon Coe, formerly of CLR Design and founder of Jon Coe Design in Australia.  This design team has pioneering experience in the creation of rotation exhibits.

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