Brexit Highlands Biodiversity Hotspot

April 1, 2019

To celebrate their 90-year anniversary, San Francisco Zoo & Gardens is delighted to announce the design for their Brexit Highlands Biodiversity Hotspot.

Inspired by environmental conversation and historic preservation objective, the habitat will focus on the previously considered lost flora, fauna and animals of the medieval period in the Zoo’s core historic district. Highlighting this experience will be our newly rescued, remarkable Unicorn – “Frisky.” This overlooked, yet magnificent ancient creature will be new the focus of the Zoo’s new direction combining historicism and imagination within a conservation mission.

“This is a community Zoo, and as so many compelling ideas in San Francisco originate with our community’s input, whether solicited or unsolicited, so did the Unicorn habitat. It started with a trickle of letters but rapidly escalated to hundreds of letters” said Tanya McVeigh Peterson – CEO & Executive Director of San Francisco Zoo & Gardens.

The Zoo also received a few less gentle ones, such as following one by an unnamed contributor:

“Why don’t you have Unicorns at the Zoo? What’s the bias about? I hear Cincinnati Zoo has Unicorns. AND I hear their habitat won all sorts of Green awards. What’s the deal? Shame on the San Francisco Zoo for not supporting these animals.”

Even local bakery, Noe Valley Bakery, designed a Unicorn cake to broaden support for the effort.

“Our mission at San Francisco Zoo is the 3 C’s: Connect, Care & Conserve. We sometimes add a 4th C: Community…. And our Community was telling us to connect with, care for and conserve the Unicorn.”, expressed Peterson as she helped herself to a serving of the remaining unicorn cake.

The importance of this opportunity is the choice for the new habitat, adjoining a proposed Snow Leopard habitat expansion for the Zoo’s newest snow leopard cubs, who will be named at the Zoo’s annual Fundraiser, ZooFest, where Liam Mayclem will be the EmCEE.

MK Think’s Odi Schlosberg, animal habitat specialist designer shared with us her intricate design process:

“I was really determined to develop a deep understanding of the Scottish Unicorn spirit in the design, so I took all of my niece’s unicorn toys and surrounded myself in a medieval fort to seek inspiration. Design opportunities like this are 1 in 100. Another difficulty is that there’s slight guidance on Unicorn Habitat standards. So, I combined the American Zoological Society Guidelines for Zebras with those of the European Hawk. The result is a vertical environment that will enable these magnificent creatures soar between platforms three stories above the visitors.

SF Zoo’s Executive Director established an ambitious challenge that the design team embraced.

The new facilities proudly contribute to the Zoo’s efforts to pursue the Care, Connect and Conservation of animals and the biodiversity that supports all life on earth.