Reid Park Zoo Begins Construction on Pathway to Asia

Major Expansion Will Connect Guests with Wildlife of the World’s Largest Continent

Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo is excited to announce that it has broken ground and construction is beginning on the much-awaited Pathway to Asia exhibit.

Anticipated to open in 2026, Pathway to Asia will transport guests to the world’s largest continent, connecting them with fascinating and iconic wildlife of Asia including red pandas, Komodo dragons, sand cats, and many others. Importantly, the new exhibit will bring Malayan tigers back to Reid Park Zoo in a spacious, state-of-the-art habitat that will be a breeding and conservation center for these highly endangered big cats.

As guests enter Pathway to Asia, they will feel as if they have traveled a world away from Tucson. Architecture of Cambodia, reminiscent of Angkor Wat, gives the appearance that the animals have taken over ancient temple ruins. Once inside, guests will encounter spaces and animals that reflect Asia’s diverse ecology from tropical jungle to arid desert to mountain steppes.

“Each habitat in Pathway to Asia is being carefully designed to fit the specific needs of the animals, while supporting the animals’ choice and control of their environment”, said Adam Ramsey, Reid Park Zoo’s Director of Animal Care. “For instance, the red pandas will have an indoor-outdoor living space,while the tigers will have ample pools for swimming and multi-tiered climbing structures.” At the same time, the new area offers an immersive experience for guests, providing them with unique viewing vantage points and interactive opportunities. They can see the tigers as they swim through an underwater viewing window or go inside a Tiger Research Station to follow along as conservationists study the big cats.

In the exhibit’s Wings of Wonder interactive aviary, guests will have the opportunity to get up-close and feed brilliantly-plumed birds such as Javan sparrows and exotic pheasants. The Robert H. Hamilton Tropical Discovery Center will be home to Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizard, Burmese python, and tortoises, as well as giant fruit bats, offering intimate views as well as interactive interpretive exhibits. The indoor Kasser Family Lotus Pavilion will offer a unique space to hold corporate gatherings, weddings, conservation presentations and other events, seating up to 250 in air-conditioned comfort. The Pavilion includes changing rooms, a full catering kitchen and audio-visual amenities. An adjacent tranquility garden offers a picturesque setting for wedding ceremonies or a peaceful respite for guests to stop and rest on their Zoo visit.

Around every bend in Pathway to Asia, guests will discover what is being done to protect the animals in the wild and steps they can take here at home to help.

The Pathway to Asia project will add 4.5 acres to the Zoo with funding made possible by the voter-approved one-tenth of one percent sales tax passed in 2017, and additional support by private donors and foundations grants. The project will complete Phase I of the Zoo’s 10-year Master Plan to refurbish infrastructure and enhance the Zoo, bringing it into the future.

“Pathway to Asia will be transformative for Reid Park Zoo, furthering the Zoo’s mission of education and its role as a national leader in conservation,” says Nancy Kluge, Reid Park Zoo President and CEO. “We are profoundly grateful to the Tucson community without whose support this amazing new space and the many improvements to the Zoo over the past several years would not be possible.”

Children break ground on Pathway to Asia
Donors break ground on Pathway to Asia
Zoo staff break ground on Pathway to Asia
Children break ground on Pathway to Asia
City of Tucson and Pima County employees break ground on Pathway to Asia
Reid Park Zoo Board Members break ground on Pathway to Asia