Reid Park Zoo Project Update

We are pleased to bring to you the latest monthly update on projects at Reid Park Zoo. February is the beginning of our busy season and this year we have some BIG visitors at the Zoo. Through May 15, ten animatronic, lifelike dinosaurs will be roaring and moving in the special exhibit Dinosaur Discovery, presented by Jim Click Automotive Group. Highlights of the exhibit, which is free with Zoo admission, include a towering 18-foot-tall T.rex and 45-foot-long Spinosaurus set among the Zoo’s lush grounds. As guests come face-to-face, they can learn about these prehistoric behemoths and participate in educational activities while also discovering how to protect endangered species found at the Zoo and in our backyard.

At the same time as dinosaurs are captivating guests, good progress is being made on some major projects at Reid Park Zoo.

Pathway to Asia

Two meetings have been held with the design team of architects, engineers, and general contractor, one in January and one in February.

Within the new design and location, a key point of discussion was parking options. Taking into account input from the community, including Zoo guests, Patrons of the Adaptive Recreation Center (PARC), and other comments, accessibility arose as a key point of consideration. Several designs were reviewed by the design team, PARC, FriendZ of Reid Park Zoo, and others. The architect also toured the Edith Ball Adaptive Recreation Center (ARC) to understand flow for their guests in this state-of-the-art therapeutic aquatic facility.

Through these discussions, a consensus was reached with the option below preferred by all parties.

It is important to note that these designs are preliminary concepts and are not final. Discussion is taking place with the University of Arizona to fully understand the needs of Hi Corbett Field. Additionally, the fieldwork for a survey has been completed with results expected in the next few weeks which will enable the team to better understand utilities in the area. Review is still needed for various code requirements including the Fire Marshall to ensure that fire vehicles will have appropriate access. These could affect the design, but preliminary results indicate this plan can be a viable option.
Some key notes about this design:
  • Primary access to the parking lot would be on the north end of the lot, following the south end of Hi Corbett Field.
  • Guests to the Zoo and the ARC would enter their vehicles from the north, park and unload, and enter a walking path to guide them to the Zoo or the ARC.
  • A vehicular roadway with broad sidewalks on either side would be created, with sidewalks landscaped and potentially shaded.
  • The new design would substantially increase parking by as much as 30%.
  • The Therapeutic playground located off of Randolph will not be affected.
  • There will be a net increase in total green space to offset heat island effects by 45% over the current use. A preliminary timeline was shown to get feedback from the design team.
Key points in that preliminary timeline are that design would be complete in November 2022 with permitting to start in August 2022. The parking lot would be an early delivery item with construction to start in February 2023 and completion in July 2023. Pathway to Asia would be complete in April 2025.
We know that many of you are excited about the new spaces for animals that will be a part of Pathway to Asia. You can see the animals that will be coming in this new area of the Zoo at 

Angel Charity for Children World of Play

The minor redesign and refinements for this exciting kids’ zone is nearing completion and we expect to begin permitting at the beginning of April with construction to begin this summer. Construction will take about a year with opening mid-2023.

One important aspect for park users to know is that the ambassador building to house our ambassador animals is being shifted to Asia, so there will be no changes to Lakeshore Lane. The parking lot behind the Conservation Learning Center will be fenced in during construction with staging of equipment located there. A permanent fence and gate will be added within the current curb of that parking lot.

Last month, we talked about the Antarctic play area and today I will highlight the next stop on the path in the World of Play: the journey to a tropical rainforest in South America. A replica of a capuchin monkey will greet you as you enter a treetop research hut. Whether you climb up or reach the hut on the accessible pathway, you will be able to play a game to learn who lives in the different areas of the rainforest – with the Hercules beetle that lives on the forest floor, the jaguar that lives in the understory, the two-toed sloth that lives in the canopy and the capuchin monkey that lives in the top layer. You can spin the rainstick to hear the sound of the rainforest then slide down the spiral slide to reach the musical instrument area.

We will continue our tour next month with a focus on the sequoia forest portion of World of Play, stay tuned!

Other projects

  • Restrooms at the front entry have had new lights installed and were painted last week. New stalls, as well as new sink fixtures and updated flooring will continue to be installed over the next month. We appreciate your patience as we make these improvements.
  • The ambassador animal habitat in the Conservation Learning Center is now being used by our ambassador outreach animals – when they are not out visiting in our community!
  • Water bottle filling stations have been added to water fountains, encouraging guests to bring their water bottles to help reduce the use of plastics.
  • The sloth habitat design continues and is being refined. This new habitat will be located in the South America area of the Zoo.
  • The facing of the Conservation Learning Center will be redone as part of maintenance and repairs.
  • The birthday party area will be undergoing a facelift, likely to take place this summer.
We look forward to keeping you apprised of projects and improvements at the Zoo as they are accomplished and thank our wonderful community for its generous support and engagement. Exciting things are ahead for Reid Park Zoo, for our community and for conservation!