Reid Park Zoo Projects Making Progress

Summer is here! As the days get warmer, we will be changing our hours at the Zoo to 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting June 1 for the comfort of our guests and the animals. We encourage you to visit during these cooler times of the day or in the evening during our Summer Safari Nights. Each evening will have a special theme highlighting different members of our animal kingdom. Learn more about Summer Safari Nights and other summer special events on our website.



On March 18, Reid Park Zoo held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Angel Charity for Children World of Play.  This adventure zone will combine learning and play, bringing an appreciation of the amazing diversity of our world to the playground.  Children from Tucson joined representatives from Angel Charity for Children, other donors, representatives from the City of Tucson, general contractor Lloyd Construction and chief architect Torre Design Consortium, Reid Park Zoo board members, and staff to take the first dig!

“This is a dream that started when parents of children came to the Zoo and asked for a play area for their kids, but of course, at the Zoo it can’t just be a play area,” said Chad Driedger, Reid Park Zoo Foundation Capital Campaign Chair. “Next spring, about a year from now you’re going to see a complete adventure zone where kids can learn about animals and learn about habitats. They’re going to be able to climb a rope bridge all the way to the top of a sequoia tree, sit next to eagle eggs in a giant eagle’s nest, and then whoosh down the slide.”

Construction is expected to start in June as the permitting process is finalized and it is expected to open in the summer of 2023. Please note that once actual construction begins, the parking lot behind the Conservation Learning Center will be closed and will be a construction staging area. Access to Lakeshore Lane should not be impacted, but there may be times when there is traffic or noise due to construction.

World of Play will be located within the Zoo at the site of the former flamingo habitat and adjacent to the Lee H. Brown Family Conservation Learning Center. In addition to funds from the voter initiative, World of Play is made possible by a generous lead gift from Angel Charity for Children with additional support from Cavender-Simpson Family, the Rotary Club of Tucson and other private donors.

Pathway to Asia

The redesign of Pathway to Asia continues to make good progress. At this month’s design meetings, there was a focus on the parking lot area and entrance, finalizing details on where dumpsters are located, and ensuring that water features and life support systems meet the animal needs while maintaining as many water conservations features as possible. We confirmed our commitment to harvesting solar energy for the grid through some of the rooftops where it is feasible. In addition, the City will also be adding electric vehicle charging stations.

Parking lot, dumpsters, and fences  

Last month we talked about one of the not-so-elegant but very necessary features of the Zoo, the restrooms. This month we are concentrating on parking lot and dumpsters. We are working to not only make sure guest parking is convenient but also to ensure that the vehicles to pick up dumpsters for trash, recycling and compost, as well as the large media vehicles that come in for those special games at Hi Corbett field can get in and out easily. The good news is that we have lots of terrific engineers and architects figuring out all those details and getting it laid out just right.

We also looked closely at the look, feel and experience of the walk from the parking lot to Edith Ball Adaptive Recreation Center and Reid Park Zoo. Fencing material is an important decision as this will meet many needs. It should adhere to guidelines for perimeter fencing from the Association for Zoos and Aquariums of 8 feet high, deter anyone from entering, prevent anyone having to look into maintenance areas, provide sound mitigation next to some animal habitats, and be aesthetically pleasing – whew, that is a lot of requirements to fulfill! The design is still in progress, but we are currently considering a decorative picket fence as you come in from the parking lot that would be covered in flowering vines. That would transition to a masonry wall with landscaping and decorative features including stunning repurposed art by local artist Alex Heveri, who makes beautiful sculptures.

Animal habitats and life support systems

Life support systems is a phrase used in the zoo and aquarium world for the water systems that our animals need to live in, bathe, and play for their health and enjoyment. And we all know that those water features are also pleasant and relaxing to us human animals as we visit zoos, parks, and other areas in our life.

We spent a portion of this month’s meeting reviewing these life support systems with our water treatment system consultant as well as the rest of the design team. We assessed and triple checked the temperature ranges that are absolute for each species so we have the right controls for the water temperatures. We looked at the humidity requirements and what the ideal water system would be for each species. This is particularly important for the reptiles that will be housed in the Robert Hamilton Tropical Discovery Center where we have many unique species, each with different needs. I am always very proud of our Zoo’s consistent response when faced with cost versus animal comfort. Our first priority is always to do what is best for the animals.

Solar power

At Reid Park Zoo, we have several solar systems that complement the investment the City of Tucson has made in moving our community forward toward sustainability. The Lee H. Brown Conservation Learning Center, the Click Family Elephant Care Center, and the Zoo’s animal health center are three examples of solar powered buildings that were donated through programs at Tucson Electric Power.

We are early in the process of solar design for some of the features for Asia, but we have given a strong affirmation that using solar power is important.

We hope you are able to come enjoy the Summer Safari Nights this year. Thank you for caring and staying up to date on progress for Reid Park Zoo.