Butterfly House? We got this—Spotlight on York Zoo

York ZooOne of the biggest appeals to ClearSpan Fabric Structures is their ability to be completely versatile and accommodating to almost any application. This held true when Mika Nurmikko contacted us in hopes to create a zoo exhibit like no other. Today’s blog features his story and spotlights how ClearSpan provided the perfect solution for York Zoo.

Step inside York’s Wild Kingdom butterfly house and enter a Costa Rican tropical rainforest where alligators swim in shallow water, Collard Anteaters snooze in live tree branches, and Toucans, Plushcrested Jays, Buff-crested Bustards, Derbyan Parakeets and Blue-breasted Quail preen themselves. A plethora of rare and colorful butterflies—200 to 500—fly freely within this enclosed tropical habitat. You can watch them hatch from their chrysalis and fly around the building’s interior, a recreated Central American ecosystem complete with waterfalls, live orchids, verdant foliage and a tank full of salt water fish, Brain Corals, Feather Dusters, Sea and Carpet Anemones.

Several years ago, when planning the Butterfly Kingdom, zoo director, Mika Nurmikko, started looking for the right structure to house the exhibit. Nurmikko says that in creating this “biodiversity,” he knew he wanted a structure that offered natural lighting and some temperature control, but also one that was exceptionally economical.York Zoo

“I financed this exhibit myself,” he says. “I like to try new things. This building had to go up in nine months. It needed to be fairly simple and quick to construct since I would be putting most of it up on my own. We used a Bobcat tractor and made some modifications to the building so that we could secure it to prevent animals from getting out and coming inside. We put 1/4″ welder wire around everything—two feet outside and three feet inside so that nothing can dig out or in. We also anchored the legs to six by six telephone posts to prevent slippage and modified the base surface to minimize erosion and avoid frost heaves.”

“The illumination and temperature are very good. I absolutely love this building. There is no waste. That’s important to me because when I save money, I can put it back into keeping animals from becoming extinct. Our mission is to preserve, propagate and educate. The more economically I build, the more I can put back into ecology. For three months in the winter I work in the Monkey Park, a foundation in Costa Rica where we rescue and rehabilitate Holler Monkeys that have been hurt by the region’s rapid development. I could use a ClearSpan building in that environment. I also plan to build another one in the New England area.”

It pleases us to know that our customers are not only satisfied with our buildings, but thrilled at how well they work with their applications. Participating in a project like York Zoo is always a pleasure and we’ll jump at the opportunity to work on another type of project like this in the future.

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