Friday marked the grand opening the newly constructed Elephant Expedition. The three-acre habitat has a host of new exhibit features along with upgraded visitor amenities.
The new exhibit construction includes a 100,000-gallon, 10-foot deep pool with a sloped zero entry access. Faux mud textured steps have been integrated to allow for easy entry and exit from the pool. The pool’s zero entry is fed by a 14-foot tall waterfall and a long stream that bisects the exhibit. The stream originates from a large, 20-foot tall simulated rockwork waterfall that allows the elephants to shower under the falls. To enable better access into the exhibit, a naturalistic-themed bridge was built across the stream. The bridge was developed to support the new resident elephants and zoo maintenance vehicles. Natural-looking shotcrete rockwork was strategically constructed throughout the space to disguise architectural site lines, to address site grade changes, and to provide an organic finish. Finally, sand was used throughout the exhibit as it provides a softer material for walking.
Working alongside PGAV Architects, JE Dunn Construction, and the Kansas City Zoo, COST worked collaboratively to enhance the elephant exhibit and create a more purposeful, elephant-friendly habitat. During the project unveiling (link) Zoo Director Randy Wisthoff mentioned the popularity of the elephant exhibit and elephant keeper presentations, * adding to the educational content. The project also included a tram stop at Elephant Expedition, an elephant overlook view deck, additional shading and seating areas, ADA restrooms, and a mother’s room.
COST was hired by JE Dunn to perform shop drawings, structural engineering, a scale construction model, fabrication and construction work. On-site construction performed by COST field crews include the pool/theme earthen/mud textures, simulated rockwork, waterfalls, and theme bridge. The decades-long relationship between COST and the Kansas City Zoo includes high-profile projects like the Polar Bear Passage, Stingray Bay, and Orangutan Canopy.
*Source: KMBC 9 News.