Fresno Chaffee Zoo's upcoming exhibit will whisk you away to southeast Asia

The Kingdoms of Asia exhibit will feature animals like Sumatran orangutans and Malayan tigers.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The heart of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo is being reimagined with newly renovated spaces for the animals native to southeast Asia, such as Sumatran orangutans and Malayan tigers.

"When Kingdoms of Asia is done, it's going to feel like we're transporting people here in Fresno to southeast Asia," says Chief Conservation Education Officer Dean Watanabe.

Watanabe and other zoo officials consulted with members of Fresno's southeast Asian community to make sure the exhibit accurately reflected the culture.

Danny Kim of United Khmer Cultural Preservation was among the local community members offering advice.

An eatery in the new section will offer southeast Asian food.

"We are very honored and excited that the Chaffee Zoo reached out to us to showcase the beautiful and colorful religion, tradition and culture," says Kim.

Once visitors come through the Kingdoms of Asia entrance, they'll weave their way through the tiger exhibit, which will have a pool.

"Tigers are excellent swimmers and this will give them the opportunity to cool down," says Watanabe.

Sloth bears and Asian small-clawed otters will share a space.

"We're going to be bringing in new species like Sunda gharial, which are those massive crocodilian species. Those are brand new to Fresno Chaffee Zoo."

As you stroll through the zoo, you'll notice some animals have already been moved to make way for the new exhibit.

It's hoped the first part of the exhibit, featuring orangutans and Komodo dragons, will be done by the end of the year.

The brand new area should be complete next year.

The $38 million doll price tag on the immersive project will be covered by funds generated by Measure Z, a one-tenth of a percent tax passed in Fresno County which also paid for the zoo's African Adventure and Sea Lion Cove.

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