One of the latest editions in the M.C. Zoological Park, Chhatbir is a Nocturnal House. It has been constructed to house different species of nocturnal animals like bats, owls, civet cats, slow Loris, hyena, porcupines, and lesser mouse deers, fly squirrels etc. These animals are active in the night and spend the day lying asleep thus these are unattractive to visitors when they are kept for public display in normal enclosures. To make the nocturnal animals active during the daytime for the benefit of visitors, the wake-sleep cycle of the animals is reversed by simulated night condition, inducing the night time activities in the animals. In this connection special arrangements are made to change the time of the day gradually, that is from day light to dark and dusk to dawn, so that the animals are conditioned to the change of biorhythm in their routine life.
The nocturnal house has been conceived as a cave to exhibit these animals in such a way that people have a feeling as if they are going through a tunnel and see the animals in their natural habitat. An exclusive house for these animals is a prestigious project cleared by the Central Zoo Authority of India, as till now such a facility was available only at Delhi and Kanpur zoos. With the addition of this house the visitors are able to watch the natural behavior of these animals in ‘artificially created night’.
The house is designed as a ‘light-proof’ structure which remains dark during the day to make it look like night. To give visitors access to nocturnal enclosures, a specially designed passage has been created so that their movement does not disturb the animals and prevent them from exhibiting their natural behavior. There are eight cubicles which are enriched with features of natural habitat of its occupants.
The plan of the house is in free-flowing form in consonance with the organic character of the zoo. The only conspicuous parts of the house are its entry and exit points. The visitors’ gallery which runs on the periphery has been provided with a few small apertures for little light and ventilation. Openings in animals’ cubicles towards visitors’ gallery have been provided with fixed glass. Each cubicle has its own open-to-sky court towards the inner side. A keepers’ gallery is sand witched in between the cubicles for the movement of caretakers. The internal courts and the keepers’ gallery have been firmly covered with chain-link to protect the animals.



NOCTURNAL HOUSE, CHHATBIR ZOO, NEAR CHANDIGARH by Sarbjit Bahga in India won the WA Award Cycle 17. Please find below the WA Award poster for this project.

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