Under the direction of the Zoological Society Board, the Buffalo Zoo has completed Phase One of its 15-year master plan.
In 2002, the Buffalo Zoo developed an exciting master plan to completely transform the Zoo with major new exhibits and visitor facilities. The core experience of the new zoo will be a series of realistic, immersive animal enclosures that take visitors on a journey around the world. Primary exhibit zones, accessed off a central pathway, include African Watering Hole, South American Rainforest and Arctic Edge. In addition, a two-part exhibit near the entrance features sea lions and river otters. At the other end of the Zoo, crocodiles, tigers, lions, and gorillas will inhabit refurbished enclosures in front of the Main Animal Building, while a series of outdoor enclosures explore the plight of the earth’s “vanishing animals”.
The major organizing theme of the new zoo will be “water.” This theme was chosen because of water’s historic importance to the City of Buffalo. Nestled between two Great Lakes and at the foot of the Erie Canal, Buffalo is world-renowned for the use of water for transportation, hydroelectric power, and recreation. Moreover, the Earth is a watery planet. Animals must contend with every scenario possible: being submerged in rapidly moving water; alternating between no water and drenching rains; existing in a perpetually moist environment (such as a rainforest); or living in surroundings that are frozen most of the time.
The most recent additions are M&T Bank Rainforest Falls and the Delta Sonic Heritage Farm. Opened in 2008, Rainforest Falls is a fully enclosed South American exhibit providing the new Zoo with a signature four-season attraction. Visitors will walk through trees via a series of ramps and overlooks. Along the way, they will encounter a remarkable collection of species that live at different levels with the rainforest including squirrel monkeys and white-faced sakis, piranhas, roseate spoonbill, scarlet ibis, toucans, boat-billed herons, tamandua, and vampire bats. The forest floor features larger species such as capybara, ocelot, giant anteaters, armadillos, giant river turtles, dwarf caiman and anaconda. The Delta Sonic Heritage Farm opened in 2010 and became the Zoo’s new year-round children’s Zoo. The farm features a genuine heritage barn from the 1800 to recreate the feeling of what life was like on the Erie Canal in the 1800s. Complete with its own garden, the heritage farm is home to Berkshire pigs, a Devon cow, Southdown sheep, Dominique chickens, turkey and a mule similar to those used to tow boats along the Erie Canal.