Work begins on the new Rainforest House

Malayan sun bears and tree-kangaroos will move into renovated Alfred Brehm building

For several weeks, construction fences by the Alfred Brehm building have been hinting at the start of a large-scale project at the Tierpark. The first old tiger cages have already been torn down, and now machinery stands ready to remove the railings from the former lion enclosure.

On 29 May, together with architects from the firms dan pearlman and SKP, Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr Andreas Knieriem gave the official go-ahead for construction to commence. The long-awaited overhaul of the listed Alfred Brehm building is the largest renovation project carried out at the Tierpark in decades. The building, which was erected in 1963, is well past its prime and is therefore undergoing an extensive makeover to transform it into a modern Rainforest House. Once the project is finished, the building will house threatened species from the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. The Tierpark’s king cobra and the two Sumatran tigers Harfan and Mayang will be among the Rainforest House inhabitants, raising awareness for their endangered fellows in the wild. The renovation will provide decidedly better living conditions for Malayan sun bears Tina and Johannes. They have been living in an enclosure of just 180 m2 by the entrance next to Schloss Friedrichsfelde manor house, but once the Alfred Brehm building is ready, they will move into a spacious habitat of almost 1,000 m2, complete with climbing trees.

“The Malayan bears’ situation represents just how urgently this renovation is needed,” says Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr Andreas Knieriem. “The focus is on quality over quantity: to allow all Tierpark inhabitants to live in species-appropriate habitats, we must reduce the park’s population. We will also be selecting animals based on the level of threat they face in the wild. For example, visitors will soon have the chance to marvel at the endangered Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroo.” Dr Knieriem goes on to explain that, in 2015, the Alfred Brehm building was home to 54 predators of 19 species (big cats, small cats and civets). After the work is complete, it will house just 25 individuals from eight species.
 “The planning documents were approved in mid-May so we can now begin the process of procuring bids from construction companies,” explains Zoo and Tierpark Technical Director Ingo Volmering. “Next, we will rebuild the rock halls and expand the indoor enclosures by filling in the moats.”

History of the Alfred Brehm building
In addition to modernising the technical facilities and improving working conditions, the main focus of the urgently required renovation of the 5,300 m² Alfred Brehm building is to improve quality of life for the animals. The predator house was the largest of its kind when it was first designed by famous architect Heinz Graffunder. As it is now a listed monument, the Tierpark must ensure that the renovation work respects the building’s history.

The project is being financed by various bodies: the State of Berlin is contributing the lion’s share of €4.1 million, while the Berlin Lotto Stiftung is providing some €3.6 million. The Gemeinschaft der Förderer von Zoo und Tierpark Berlin (Society of Zoo and Tierpark Patrons) is also lending its support with a donation of €475,000. In total, the renovation will cost almost €8.2 million. As the work is being carried out in stages, some of the building’s current inhabitants will not be required to move – including the tigers, which visitors will still be able to watch enjoying their rocky outdoor habitat. The work is scheduled for completion in 2019.

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