Project Updates: Angel Charity for Children World of Play, Pathway to Asia and More

March is our busiest month of the year at Reid Park Zoo, and it has been wonderful to see all of the families with children on spring break the last couple of weeks! As a reminder, Dinosaur Discovery continues at the Zoo with animatronic giants moving and roaring through May 15. We also hope that you can join us on April 9 for elephant Penzi’s 2nd birthday celebration from 9 -11 a.m. with elephant themed activities, special enrichment for Mapenzi and her family and a singing of Happy Birthday!

We are continuing to make progress on projects at Reid Park Zoo. Here are some of the updates:

Angel Charity for Children World of Play

This play area where children will learn about wildlife, habitats and nature through play, is nearing final design.  Plans are expected to be submitted for permits at the beginning of April and our contractor, Lloyd Construction, will then begin the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) bid verifications. These two important parts of the process will happen through May so that materials can be ordered and preparation for construction to start. We expect to begin construction in June or July, 2022 with an opening planned for spring of 2023.

For this month’s project update, we will focus on the sequoia forest area in World of Play. This 40-foot structure will not be quite as big as the largest trees in the world, but will look like one of the massive sequoia trees found along the Sierra Nevada. Children will be able to reach the mid-level area of the tree by travelling an accessible path, climbing a rope ladder through the trunk, or coming across from the South America area via a rope trampoline! Along the way, they will be able to play a scavenger hunt, challenging them to spot sculptures of some of the amazing animals of the forest such as banana slugs, red-bellied newts, Humboldt’s flying squirrel and raccoons. As they reach the top, they will pass through an eagle’s nest as a replica of an eagle is poised to swoop in for a landing. Children will be able to learn about these animals as they decide if they want to depart down the slide or by path. Which is the better route to try?

When construction preparation begins (timeframe estimated to be this June), the small parking lot to the south of the Zoo’s Conservation Learning Center, just north of the horseshoe pits, will be closed as a staging area for construction.There will be a construction fence installed for the 8-10 months of construction and at times there may be brief interruption to traffic on Lakeshore Lane. While no changes will be happening to Lakeshore Lane as a part of the project, during construction there will be times where there is increased traffic and noise.  As a part of the project, this parking lot will be enclosed with a fence added along the curb line. No changes will be made outside the parking lot.

We thank everyone for their patience during this process.

Pathway to Asia

Design is progressing well on this new area of the Zoo. The parking design that was shared last month continues to look very viable and the architects, engineers and surveyors are continuing to work on the details, utilizing as much of the building, landscape and exhibit design of the previous plan as possible, including sustainable practices. The new parking lot will have a number of trees added to combat heat island effects along with landscaped bioswales which will collect stormwater to water the parking lot trees while reducing debris and pollution. The parking lot trees will be a small portion of the estimated 210 trees that will be added as a part of the project. As with any Zoo project, we will be emphasizing trees that can be trimmed to collect browse, leaves, and stems that are enjoyed as enrichment for the animals in the Zoo!

Some of the changes to the original plan are all for the better. With the new location for Pathway to Asia, we have been able to enlarge the outdoor habitats for the aviary birds, fishing cat, siamang, red panda and add an additional fruit bat holding area. We are continuing to work on finalizing identification of utilities and planning communication with utility companies about any changes. There is still a lot of work to do on many details but we continue to be on schedule to start the new parking lot in spring of 2023 and start construction of the animal habitats and guest features in Fall of 2023 with an opening in Spring of 2025.

Other projects

  • The front restroom project will be completed with new stalls, fixtures, and updated flooring this summer when the number of visitors decreases and there is less impact to guests. We will also be adding updates to the café in the summer to provide additional visitor comfort.
  • The sloth habitat design is almost finalized and should begin construction this summer with an anticipated opening this fall.
  • Plants are being ordered for the revival of the pollinator garden, which we will be bringing back in the next few weeks.
  • A new shade structure has been added to the birthday party area with more improvements coming this summer.