PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Zoo’s newest exhibit showcases some birds of prey. It’s called the Raptor Ridge Experience.
In the wild you would never get to be this close to these types of animals. But the zoo’s newest exhibit has them a few steps away.
Glory and Ritz, two American eagles, are housed in a fenced in enclosure mimicking the birds’ natural habitat. Next to that, a barn yard scene, a fake cow, but real owls, barn owls named Tyra and Alba. There are wooden benches with chainsaw carvings, birds of prey incorporated into the design.
Kristen Waldron, Director of Conservation Education and Integration at the Philadelphia Zoo, says zoo employees were given a budget and free rein to brainstorm, design and implement the concept with eagles and owls now known as Raptor Ridge.
“It’s an employee engagement initiative, but also there is a huge scene of pride among the staff that did this,” she said. “You had a keeper from the primate area, a keeper from the reptile area, our electrician, our business operations person. It was just a really unique activity for our staff to showcase their creativity and work.”
But why the bald eagle or barn owl?
“It shows the difference between daytime animals and evening animals,” Waldron explained. “The barn owls are nocturnal. You may not see them during the day, but they are active at night. So it’s a really nice contrast.”
Waldron says the birds showcased in the exhibit are rehabilitated and are not releasable and cannot survive in the wild.
The exhibit includes a 40-foot-long mural with owls and bald eagles on it. There are a set of wings on a mural for visitors to compare their wingspan to, and you also can get a picture taken and soar with the raptors.
Vittoria Woodill contributed to this report.