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GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Greensboro Science Center is relying on a familiar partner to make their new Revolution Ridge exhibits as real as possible. 

Mick Hilleary is the founder and president of Total Habitat. He describes the importance of building realistic habitats.

“Well, what we hope to do is make sure it’s a fun place for the animal,” Hilleary said. “When the visitors come, the animals are exhibiting their natural behaviors.”

And it sounds like the fishing cats will have a fun place to learn and live.

“Up there at the top is the top pool. Then the water will fall to the middle, and then waterfall down to the bottom pool, which is the deepest pool,” Hilleary said.  

The multi-level habitat will resemble the rocky features the fishing cat would see in its natural environment. 

This is done by first building the rocky frame then cement is poured. The team has to chisel and shape the cement quickly to make the cement look like natural, individual layers of rock.

“In about two and a half hours, it will turn into rocks. So, in that time, we have to quickly develop all of these shapes, and we texture them to get this imitation of geology,” Hilleary said.

Next on Hilleary’s list is the pygmy hippo habitat. 

The exhibit even has details like hoof prints that have dried in mud that is really cement. 

The look of the new Revolution Ridge expansion excites Greensboro Science Center Executive Director Glenn Dobrogosz. He can’t wait for others to enjoy the new space.

“I think they are going to be in awe,” Dobrogosz said. “This zoological expansion is as good as any zoological expansion in the world, in the nation.”

The realism of the animal habitat is part of the story. 

Dobrogosz said the pygmy hippo exhibit explains why the animals are threatened in the wild. 

At the top of the pygmy hippo habitat, there’s a cave with an entry designed to look like a gold mine. In West Africa, the mining of gold is polluting the waters the pygmy hippo lives in.  

“Revolution Ridge is a fight for freedom,” Dobrogosz said. “The American Revolution took place on this ground or a few hundred yards this way.  In the wild, animals want the same thing. They want to be left alone in freedom.”

And with the help of breeding programs at Revolution Ridge, one day threatened wildlife will no longer be in danger and will be able to live in their natural habitats with humans.

The Greensboro Science Center will also breed threatened species like cassowaries, fishing cats and red pandas. 

Revolution Ridge is on schedule for a May 2021 opening.

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