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Panda-proof playground in Ähtäri Zoo

Panda-proof climbing frames designed from the Flora collection.

Ähtäri Zoo
We often receive requests by customers for custom-made playground and exercise equipment, and our designers at the Lappset MyDesign! service have a great deal of experience with tailored products and their variations. This past year, one request truly stood out from the rest with its peculiarity, as Jan Sundvik was tasked with designing custom climbing frames suitable for pandas from the natural Flora collection.
Ähtäri Zoo

In the design, I needed to into account the pandas’ weight and gender, as well as learn about their ranges and manner of movement. The climbing frames also had to be made solely of surface-treated, natural wood”, Jan Sundvik explains.

The climbing frames and playsets have been specially designed for the panda couple Lumi and Pyry at Ähtäri Zoo, in cooperation with their keeper and on a tight schedule.

Zookeeper Anna Palmroth had studied the behaviour and habits of pandas in detail, and provided essential information to help in the designs. Her suggestions included adding possibilities for “tree-like” climbing, a roofed platform for resting, and balance beams”, Jan describes.

According to Sundvik, the designs also had to account for possible eventual panda cubs, who would also want to climb and play in the frames.

For example, we could not include a close-meshed net that might prove too difficult for the cubs to climb. Another challenge we faced was how to accommodate the designs for the pandas’ different personalities, such as the fact that Lumi is more playful than Pyry”, Jan says.

From the outset, the Flora collection was chosen as the basis for the designs. Flora frames are made of northern pine, and their natural, round and curved shapes are ideally suited for slow-moving pandas. 

We also had to pay particular attention to how the frames were secured and installed. Ähtäri Zoo took care of preparing the foundations and installing the frames according to our instructions”, Jan Sundvik explains.

Northern pine is a sturdy, tight-grained and durable material. Lappset purchases the majority of its timber from sustainably managed, PEFC certified forests in Northern Finland.

The climbing frame has been very well received by the panda couple, who have already put it to eager use.

Lappset Group Ltd is an official partner of Ähtäri Zoo.

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