Warm Pools & Rocks keep Exhibits Open

The Challenge

A Wyoming zoo’s plans for a new exhibit for mountain lions, lynx, otters, snow fox and grizzly bears called for keeping the animals as close to the public as possible. The idea of heated concrete “rocks” located close to the exhibit’s glass separation panels was sure to attract the animals in the colder months. And a heated pool for the otters that might like to take an occasional dip seemed to be the ticket to keep them lively throughout the winter. The only issues were: keeping the animals from harming the controls that were providing their comfort, and, potentially, harming themselves.

The Solution

The heated pools utilized a specially modified Chromalox over-the-side (OTS) heater to be used in a containment sump that circulates to the outside environment and draws the otters closer to the visitor area with warmer water. The mountain lion, lynx, snow fox and grizzly bear exhibits featured freeze-protected “rocks” which were heated by Chromalox mineral insulated cable that was attached to rebar within the concrete. This approach provided the needed flexibility and wattage per area to heat the surface of the curved and jagged rocks – and maintained the natural look of the exhibit without loss of heating integrity. The rocks are kept between 60F and 80F, which provides a comfortable environment for the animals. Except for the grizzly bear exhibit, the temperature controls utilize RTD sensors from the conduit and junction boxes to keep the temperatures within the desired range. The controls are kept to the side of the exhibit, away from the animals. Because grizzly bears have powerful claws that can dig through most anything – even concrete, with time – a special ¼” metal-plated enclosure was designed for the power connections and sensors in that exhibit, allowing it to be submerged in enough concrete to be “bear-proof.”

The Benefits

+ Year-round “natural” environment created through comfortable heating control
+ Animals protected from potential self-harm through their natural curiosities and tendencies to dig
+ Extended months of business operation and sales opportunity