Zoo Habitat Design

Blank Park Zoo Jamaa Kwa African Experience Expansion

About the Project

The Jamaa Kwa African Experience project is a multi-phased expansion that reimagines a significant portion of the zoo’s footprint. Realization of this goal requires implementing over multiple phases to relocate animal species and make way for new development.

An early phase project was the construction of a feature Eastern black rhinoceros habitat. Companion species include giant eland, kori bustard, a small bird aviary, tortoise, ostrich and warthog. The project site is located near the perimeter of the zoo with a protected tree row offering a natural borrowed landscape background for these large species that are notoriously hard on exhibit plantings. The sloping hillside of the site was terraced to develop larger, level paddocks for rhinos. The terraces offered the opportunity to create a dry, ha-ha moat between habitats to allow the zoo to display multiple animals with a layered look.

The rhino habitat is intertwined with other animal habitats along a dedicated Africa-themed pathway allowing multiple views of the varied animal collection and immersing guests into this themed experience. The Africa theme is created using artificial rockwork in select areas, geographically inspired structures and colorful geometric painting.

The cold northern climate presents challenges for these warmer-weather species. To allow guests an opportunity to visit the rhino during colder months, an indoor viewing area was created as part of the pathway experience. The climate-controlled viewing room offers visitors a chance to see how these amazing animals are cared for “behind the scenes.” Guests can view into holding rooms, a large day room and the animal squeeze chute.