Zoo Habitat Design

Akron Zoo Grizzly Ridge

About the Project

Grizzly Ridge is designed to bring both the present and historical fauna of wild Ohio to life. This Akron Zoo exhibit includes a native bird aviary, river otters, red wolves, coyotes and Grizzly bears.

A natural hillside and backdrop of mature native trees make the ideal setting for this exhibit. Three distinct viewing areas into the Grizzly yard offer a variety of experiences to the guest. The first looks uphill across the yard and features an underwater view of the bear pool. The next area is from a higher vantage point where shade, hot-rock, and a “foraging box” (to be loaded with berries) all encourage the bears to spend time close to visitors in every season. Finally, a “training wall” for keeper chats and demonstrations caps an unforgettable learning experience.

The river otter habitat is also situated to take advantage of the natural topography. Guests first approach the exhibit from a lower path by entering a “trappers cabin,” where one side opens up to a deep water view, creating a unique opportunity to witness the otter’s dynamic underwater maneuvers. Continuing uphill, guests come to a plaza where several features allow them to engage with otters and learn a bit of Ohio history. Children are thrilled with a clear tube slide that passes through the otter pool. A central shaded area surrounds the guest on three sides and provides a panoramic view. A demonstration wall presents an educational opportunity to increase the guest’s understanding of the otters and their care.

The two-story tree house and rope bridge, suspended 16 feet in the air, invite visitors to meet more than a dozen of Ohio-native bird species face-to-face.

Grizzly Ridge is certified LEED Silver and includes several green elements, including rain barrels, a green roof, pervious concrete and bio-retention filters.

WDM collaborated with Hasenstab Architects, Inc. out of Akron to design this project.