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Building Zoo Enclosures with Webnet

Across the world, zoos and wildlife parks continue to attract high visitor numbers, the popularity of each attraction determined not only by their size and the variety of species represented, but also by the design of the animal enclosures and the public’s ‘viewing experience’.

Since Carl Hagenbeck first introduced open viewing enclosures in the early 20th century in Hamburg, the ultimate aim has been to present animals in an environment as close as possible to their natural habitat – without the need for intrusive fencing. Although traditional caging and bars haven’t altogether disappeared, particularly for dangerous animals, there is a definite trend towards replacing steel cage structures with other types of enclosures.

Materials such as Jakob Webnet provide the ideal aesthetic and functional alternative to fencing and bars. Webnet is a cost-effective, safety-certified, weather-resistant and highly durable material that requires virtually no maintenance.

However, the main benefit that Webnet provides for zoo enclosures is the filigreed structure that virtually eliminates the viewing obstruction that would be caused by a traditional safety barrier. This effect is well illustrated at Temaiken Zoo in Buenos Aires, where Webnet has been used to build huge, walk-through aviaries. Strung between steel arches that are up to 12 meters high, the mesh is barely visible when looking up to the sky. The benefits of transparency, however, are not limited to visitors to the zoo, the animals themselves seem to appreciate it too – for example, the squirrel monkeys in Rapperswil Zoo in Switzerland began to exhibit significantly increased birth rates very soon after they were transferred to their new Webnet-secured enclosure!

In 2010, a new development of Webnet was used for first time on a macaque enclosure in Basel Zoo – sleeveless Webnet. This innovative product derivative is able to withstand greater stresses than a sleeved wire rope of equal thickness, so that an even thinner mesh can be used, increasing transparency still further.

When architects and engineers are planning new animal enclosures, Webnet allows designs to be built to virtually any shape and size. The primary supporting structures for the mesh may be steel pylons or steel arches – that can be used to accent the shape of the enclosure. Of course, Webnet can also simply be strung between the ground and a protective roof. Jakob not only supplies turnkey systems, but also provides full design and technical support to architects in the pursuit of increasingly innovative solutions.

To date, Webnet has been used mainly for monkey enclosures and aviaries. However, it is equally suitable for predatory animals, as demonstrated at Krakow Zoo, which houses Siberian tigers, panthers and snow leopards in an enclosure secured with Webnet. In principle, Webnet allows the construction of enclosures for most land animal species, as the size and resilience of the mesh structure can be adjusted to suit specific requirements simply by choosing wire ropes of the appropriate diameter.

For more information, contact Jakob on 01761 419427.

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Jakob Rope Systems is supplied exclusively in the UK by MMA Architectural Systems, providing quality solutions for Green Walls, Car Park Safety, Animal Enclosures and Bridge Safety. We are also the sole UK agent for the proven Geggus Entrance Matting System.