River of Discovery
The Zoo’s second bioclimatic zone exhibit, Tiger River: Kroc Family Tropical Rain Forest, opened in 1988, representing a tropical Southeast Asian forest where Sumatran tigers, fishing cats, a Burmese python, mouse deer, Malayan tapirs, and milky storks lived. Tiger River expanded the concept of an immersive habitat experience, with innovative elements like a cabinet showing household products with rain forest origins, an opportunity to hear a tiger’s roar, more than 5,000 Asian plant species filling the canyon with scents and textures. Environmental details were a main focus, with walls along walkways designed to look like eroded banks with embedded tree roots emerging from them, the sounds of running water, and misters to provide the wet, tropical feel of a rain forest. The exhibits were designed to create delightful surprises around every bend in the path, drawing visitors on to the next discovery. Even the tigers provided a surprise: the adult female that arrived in 1987 turned out to be unexpectedly pregnant, so when Tiger River opened in March 1988, there were two curious and active cubs to explore the new habitat along with her.