MCZ Hippo1 artificial rockwork

African Adventure Phase 2, Exhibit Fabrication

It was 1957 when the Milwaukee County Zoo became COST’s first exhibit fabrication client. Sixty-three years and many exhibits later, COST is proud to have successfully completed the new African Adventure Phase 2, Hippopotamus exhibit. This is the new home for Happy and Patti, the zoo’s 38-year-old male and 49-year-old female hippos.

The new exhibit features a 60,000-gallon glassed-in aquarium that allows zoogoers to watch hippos swim at eye level from just inches away. Artificial rockwork and earth bank textures surround the exhibit perimeter, providing a naturalistic backdrop to the habitat. Patrons enter the African-thatch and faux mud textured building to access the underwater viewing area.

The larger new exhibit space allows the zoo to house three adult animals and several youth hippos. The pool includes varying depths of water, 7 feet at the deepest section, with sloped artificial rockwork and ramps to provide the hippos different resting options.

Outside the view building is a children’s play area with two hippopotamus sculptures, one mother and one baby. The play elements are surrounded by aqua blue “water” playground surfacing. The sculptures also serve as a great family photo opportunity.

COST was hired by JP Cullen to perform shop drawings, structural engineering, a scaled construction model, fabrication, and construction work. On-site construction performed by COST field crews included the naturalistic hippo pool with themed earthen/mud textures, artificial rockwork, two large glass fiber-reinforced concrete (GFRC) hippo sculptures, two artificial tree stumps, and two artificial deadfall trees within the hippo pool. Graef’s Milwaukee Office performed the architectural services.

The Milwaukee County Zoo director’s interview and more information on the zoo’s latest exhibits can be found here.

Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Zoo.