For the Budongo Trail at Edinburgh Zoo, MET Studio worked closely alongside Edinburgh architects Cooper Cromer, combining an exciting visitor experience with wildlife conservation, science, education and research. It told the story of the Budongo Forest in Uganda and the Budongo chimpanzee conservation project, both funded by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
Designed to accommodate a community of up to 40 chimpanzees, the attraction included a large outdoor area and is home to a series of exciting interactive exhibits that demonstrate in fun ways the cultural and behavioural similarities between chimpanzees and humans.
At the heart of the three pods was an ”interactive chimps’ home” and audio visual theatre, designed to demonstrate the chimps similarities with human culture, including a chalk height chart showing the height of junior chimps as they have grown and a ‘Meet The Family’ display. Video presentations, providing an introduction to the chimps that live at Edinburgh Zoo, were also located in the home.
Conservation was very much at the heart of the project’s philosophy, and we worked closely with Edinburgh Zoo to ensure that this message was respected and clearly communicated.
The entire experience was presented in way that made it clear that visitors were being invited into the chimpanzees home, and as such should be respectful of this.
‘The Budongo exhibit is a truly outstanding achievement. I suppose everyone who has had first hand acquaintance with chimps in the wild must initially have reservations about keeping such creatures in captivity, particularly in a non-tropical environment, but the Budongo installation is so remarkable and imaginative that it banishes those doubts.’
(Sir David Attenborough)