Milwaukee County Zoo Otter Passage

Otter Passage, Exhibit Fabrication at the Milwaukee County Zoo

Otter Passage, part of the overall new West Entry project, opened to the public in May. The project’s program includes the 2,000 sq. ft. otter exhibit, a new entrance to the zoo, concessions building, picnic area, and guest services complex. This exhibit’s thematic story revolves around river otters that have moved into an abandoned cabin. The setting takes place in rural Wisconsin. Patrons can view the otters in both underwater and dry exhibit spaces. Two pools with over 10,000 gallons include streams and waterfalls to allow otter water play. The recirculation system turnover rate is about 30 minutes delivering fast moving water. Otters are able showcase their strong swimming skills within the exhibit waterways.

Three young female otters will call Otter Passage home initially, while a male otter will be arriving from Zoo Montana soon.* An otter den with a heated rock allows visitors to view the otters up close, even during the colder Wisconsin winter months.

This project was awarded through a direct bid process to Milwaukee County. Gilbane Building Company was the construction manager while St. Louis-based PGAV is the exhibit designer.

COST’s services included shotcrete rockwork, ponds, stream, faux logs/tree, and theme carpentry. We also theme plastered an extensive wall surface, artistically textured and colored as aged fieldstone. Fieldstone was a commonly used construction material in Wisconsin. Finally, our team was responsible for the procurement and installation of the acrylic viewing panels.

*Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Meet Shamrock, Clover and Emerald – Milwaukee zoo’s new river otters, May 14th 2018.