Zoo opens new Asia exhibit

Published 9:41 pm Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dexter is a male white-cheeked gibbon. He’s 13 years old. Gibbon calls can be heard from up to two miles away.

The Virginia Zoo is on the verge of opening a dynamic new exhibit that will put visitors on a tiger’s eye level.

“Asia — Trail of the Tiger” brings together wildlife from across Asia, including Malayan tigers, Asian small-clawed otters, orangutans, siamangs, white-cheeked gibbons, Malayan tapirs, binturongs (a civet), exotic birds and more. More than 30 new animal residents have already arrived in Norfolk to fill out the exhibit.

Email newsletter signup

“This spring marks an incredible milestone in the Virginia Zoo’s 110-year history,” said Zoo executive director Greg Bockheim. “Trail of the Tiger enhances our ability to provide meaningful and effective animal conservation education while giving our visitors the opportunity to experience magical animals from across Asia.”

The 5.5-acre expansion increases educational opportunities for Hampton Roads residents and tourists, and enhances the Virginia Zoo’s reputation as a world-class zoological institution.

Trail of the Tiger features a series of 12 thatch-roofed pagodas — the highest at nine stories tall — and unique viewing environments. A raised boardwalk over an “Asian forest” allows observation of the scene below. A one-of-a-kind viewing cave offers a dramatic look into the tiger and orangutan exhibits. There’s even an area where visitors can watch tigers and otters swimming in their habitats from an underwater perspective.

“The effect is to provide visitors with a tiger’s-eye view of the kinds of animals an Asian tiger might encounter in the wild,” Bockheim said.

The Virginia Zoo is located at 3500 Granby St. in Norfolk. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult tickets are $11. Senior citizens are $10. Children ages 2 to 11 are $9. Children under 2 get in free. For more information, call 441-2374.