Edinburgh Zoo planned to relocate its meerkats to the main entrance of the Park, transforming an old sea lion enclosure into a rocky desert landscape. Creating a home-from-home environment similar to that which the creatures would experience in the wild, the new enclosure would feature large rocks, shrubs and a sanded area for digging.
Whilst the rest of the brief posed no real problems to the design of the new centrepiece, the digging area required careful consideration. Tunnels or burrows dug in sand by small animals are structurally very weak, and a change in weather or an unwanted visitor can cause the tunnel to collapse, trapping the meerkat inside. With the risk of suffocation to overcome, the sand needed to consist of a particle size and grading which would make it continuously collapse in on itself as the meerkats enjoyed their daily dig around.
Furthermore, with 20 metres of glass panelling to the front of the enclosure, the meerkat’s new home would form a key part of the Zoo’s entrance. With around 600,000 visitors coming through the doors each year, the landscaping within the enclosure had to look aesthetically pleasing and of high quality.
Edinburgh Zoo is owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, a not-for-profit conservation charity, which meant that costs were a careful consideration during the project and the sand was no exception.
Aggregate Industries recommended a more cost effective solution to creating a sandy digging area for the meerkats. Traditional zoological landscaping supplies of this nature, especially ones designed to safeguard the animals, can be a costly addition to any new project, and the team at the Aggregate Industries Leavenseat Quarry in Scotland were able to meet the needs of the project.
High quality sand sourced from the Aggregate Industries quarry was suggested as a cost effective alternative to the conventional type of sand. The team at Edinburgh Zoo were delighted to hear they could even colour match it to suit the aesthetic design of the new enclosure.
The sand was delivered to site in plenty of time for the zoo keepers to check it was suitable for the meerkats to dig in. The team were confident there was no risk of the animals being able to create dangerous tunnels which could collapse on them.
The new enclosure received a warm welcome from its new inhabitants and has proven a popular attraction for visitors as they enter the Zoo.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo
- Supply of sand to fill new meerkat enclosure
- Colour-matched product suitable for animal inhabitation
- Cost effective solution
The sand made the grade for safety and we were able to colour match it too, which was great – the new enclosure is at the entrance to the Zoo so it had to look extra special.