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Mega-Budget American Zoo Exhibits

Discussion in 'United States' started by snowleopard, 19 Jun 2015.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I spent a considerable amount of time researching zoo exhibits in the United States that have opened since 2004. I then made a list that only included an exhibit complex that cost a minimum of $10 million and I ended up with close to 100 different exhibits. What ones am I missing? The extraordinary amount of money spent on zoos in the U.S.A. is a major reason why so many zoo nerds go out of their way to make the United States their #1 destination for zoological delights.

    2004 – Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago): Center for African Apes - $26 million
    2004 – Jacksonville Zoo: Range of the Jaguar - $15 million
    2004 – Palm Beach Zoo: Tropics of the Americas - $30 million
    2004 – Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo: Hubbard Gorilla Valley - $14 million
    2004 – Point Defiance Zoo: Asian Forest Sanctuary - $10 million

    2005 – Indianapolis Zoo: Dolphin Adventure Dome - $10 million
    2005 – Cameron Park Zoo: Brazos River Country - $10 million

    2006 – National Zoo: Asia Trail - $53 million
    2006 – Pittsburgh Zoo: Water’s Edge - $12.5 million
    2006 – Philadelphia Zoo: Big Cat Falls - $20 million
    2006 – Memphis Zoo: Northwest Passage - $23 million

    2007 – Los Angeles Zoo: Campo Gorilla Reserve - $19 million
    2007 – Indianapolis Zoo: Oceans - $10 million
    2007 – Oklahoma City Zoo: Oklahoma Trails - $10 million
    2007 – Seattle Aquarium: Window on Washington Waters - $41 million

    2008 – Mesker Park Zoo: Amazonia - $13 million
    2008 – Bronx Zoo: Madagascar! - $62 million
    2008 – California Academy of Sciences: Steinhart Aquarium - $500 million
    2008 – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Jungala - $20 million?
    2008 – Minnesota Zoo: Russia’s Grizzly Coast - $30 million
    2008 – Zoo Miami: Amazon & Beyond - $50 million
    2008 – Buffalo Zoo: Rainforest Falls - $16 million
    2008 – San Antonio Zoo: Africa Live! Phase 1 - $12 million

    2009 – San Diego Zoo: Elephant Odyssey - $45 million
    2009 – Peoria Zoo: Africa! - $27 million
    2009 – Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo: African Journey - $10 million
    2009 – Shedd Aquarium: Oceanarium (renovation) - $50 million
    2009 – Philadelphia Zoo: McNeil Avian Center (renovation) - $17.5 million
    2009 – Memphis Zoo: Teton Trek - $16 million

    2010 – Happy Hollow Park & Zoo - $72 million (2008-2010 renovation)
    2010 – Los Angeles Zoo: Elephants of Asia - $42 million
    2010 – Brookfield Zoo: Great Bear Wilderness - $27 million
    2010 – Como Park Zoo: Polar Bear Odyssey - $15 million
    2010 – Kansas City Zoo: Polar Bear Plunge - $11 million
    2010 – Columbus Zoo: Polar Frontier - $20 million
    2010 – Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo: Expedition Madagascar - $10.5 million
    2010 – Dallas Zoo: Giants of the Savanna - $30 million
    2010 – Fort Worth Zoo: MOLA (Reptile House) - $19 million
    2010 – Houston Zoo: African Forest - $42 million
    2010 – El Paso Zoo: Passport to Africa - $33 million?
    2010 – San Antonio Zoo: Africa Live! Phase Two - $10 million

    2011 – Birmingham Zoo: Trails of Africa - $12.5 million
    2011 – Georgia Aquarium: Dolphin Tales - $110 million
    2011 – Cleveland Zoo: African Elephant Crossing - $25 million
    2011 – Honolulu Zoo: Asian Elephant Exhibit - $12 million
    2011 – Oklahoma City Zoo: Elephant Exhibit - $13 million
    2011 – Louisville Zoo: Glacier Run - $26 million
    2011 – Virginia Zoo: Asia: Trail of the Tiger - $18 million

    2012 – Los Angeles Zoo: LAIR (Reptile House) - $14 million
    2012 – Saint Louis Zoo: Sea Lion Sound - $18 million
    2012 – Reid Park Zoo: Expedition Tanzania - $10 million
    2012 – Toledo Zoo: Tembo Trail - $15 million
    2012 – Denver Zoo: Toyota Elephant Passage - $50 million
    2012 – National Zoo: American Trail - $42 million
    2012 – Fresno Chaffee Zoo: Sea Lion Cove - $10.5 million
    2012 – Utah’s Hogle Zoo: Rocky Shores - $18 million

    2013 – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: Encounter Africa - $13.5 million
    2013 – National Zoo: Elephant Trails - $56 million
    2013 – National Aquarium: Blacktip Reef - $13 million
    2013 – New England Aquarium: Giant Ocean Tank:renovation - $18 million
    2013 – Como Park Zoo: Gorilla Forest - $11 million
    2013 – Kansas City Zoo: Helzberg Penguin Plaza - $15 million
    2013 – Akron Zoo: Grizzly Ridge - $13 million
    2013 – Philadelphia Zoo: KidZooU - $33 million

    2014 – San Diego Zoo Safari Park: Tiger Trail - $20 million
    2014 – Jacksonville Zoo: Land of the Tiger - $10 million
    2014 – Columbus Zoo: Heart of Africa - $30 million
    2014 – Indianapolis Zoo: International Orangutan Center - $26 million
    2014 – Los Angeles Zoo: Rainforest of the Americas - $19 million
    2014 – Maryland Zoo: Penguin Coast - $11.5 million
    2014 – Utah’s Hogle Zoo: African Savanna - $16 million

    2015 – Woodland Park Zoo: Banyan Wilds - $21 million
    2015 – Zoo Atlanta: Scaly Slimy Spectacular (Reptile House) - $18 million
    2015 – Toledo Zoo: Aquarium (renovation) - $25.5 million
    2015 – Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago): Macaque Forest - $15.5 million
    2015 – Houston Zoo: Gorillas of the African Forest - $29 million
    2015 – Saint Louis Zoo: Polar Bear Point - $16 million
    2015 – Henry Vilas Zoo: Arctic Passage - $10 million
    2015 – Buffalo Zoo: Arctic Edge - $14 million
    2015 – Fresno Chaffee Zoo: African Adventure - $56 million

    2016 – Oregon Zoo: Elephant Lands - $57 million
    2016 – Detroit Zoo: Polk Penguin Conservation Center - $30 million
    2016 - Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago): Polar Bear & Penguin Habitat - $22 million
    2016 – Sedgwick County Zoo:Elephants of the Zambezi River - $11 million
    2016 – Memphis Zoo: Zambezi River Hippo Camp - $21 million
    2016 – Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo: African Grasslands - $73 million
    2016 – New York Aquarium: Ocean Wonders: Sharks! - $150 million?
    2016 – Como Park Zoo: Sea Lion Exhibit - $15 million

    2017 – Oakland Zoo: California Trail - $61.5 million
    2017 – San Diego Zoo: Africa Rocks - $60 million
    2017 – Texas State Aquarium: Caribbean Journey - $50 million
    2017 – Zoo Miami: Florida: Mission Everglades & Entrance - $35 million
    2017 – Saint Louis Zoo: Grizzly Ridge - $15 million?
     
    Last edited: 21 Jun 2015
  2. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Trends that emerged include:

    - a whopping 16 elephant exhibits, including a few that open within the next year
    - 12 exhibits featuring polar bears (including 4 just in 2010!)
    - 2010 was a big year for Texas, with 5 mega-budget exhibits opening
    - at least 5 gorilla exhibits
     
    Last edited: 21 Jun 2015
  3. savethelephant

    savethelephant Well-Known Member

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    Impressive list! How do you know how much future projects cost?
     
  4. Gulo gulo

    Gulo gulo Well-Known Member

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    Oregon Zoo Elephant Lands costs to date on page 11 and projected final costs. Page 13 also has finl rendering of what the yards will look like with Barn and Forest Hall.
    http://www.oregonzoo.org/sites/defa...izens' Oversight Com mtg packet 5-13-2015.pdf

    Staggering list and projects compiled, snowleopard. Would it not be more helpful to break down the exhibits and complexes? Especially those with multiple species to show costs were spread out through various exhibits that make up complexes as a whole?
     
  5. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the list. As Gulo gulo notes some of these figures are not really comparable. The California Academy of Sciences figure is for an entire aquarium and science center built from the ground up, as is the New York Aquarium shark aquarium.

    The Fresno Africa Adventure includes an elephant exhibit, large mixed species savanna exhibit (rhinos, giraffes, etc.), lion exhibit, cheetah exhibit, a restaurant, etc. It is essentially a 10 acre zoo itself added to the existing zoo.
     
  6. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    The list took me many hours to complete and it was enjoyable to search on zoo websites and Google to find out the bulk of the information. I have no desire to post a breakdown of each exhibit complex as most of them I've already toured, reviewed and know very well. Listing the exhibits that cost a minimum of $10 million is interesting but there is no doubt that if zoo nerds start comparisons then it could well be apples to oranges in many cases. For example, Saint Louis Zoo opened Sea Lion Sound in 2012 for $18 million and it is perhaps the best pinniped exhibit I've ever seen. However, in the very same year and for the exact same cost ($18 million) Utah's Hogle Zoo opened the equally impressive Rocky Shores and that complex contains exhibits for Polar Bears, Grizzly Bears, California Sea Lions, Sea Otters, Bald Eagles plus several visitor amenities. Which is better? Who knows!

    The overwhelming trend for these mega-exhibits is to build habitats for elephants (15 examples) and polar bears (11 examples) and the amount of money spent just on those animals is rather mind-blowing. Another interesting fact is where construction takes place as that can often determine the cost of a project. Major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have enormously expensive construction costs and so when Lincoln Park Zoo spends $15.5 million on a few snow monkeys then by comparison Oklahoma City Zoo can open one of the largest zoo exhibits ever created in the U.S. for Asian Elephants at a cost of $13 million. The elephants have approximately 4 acres of space amidst the 9.5 acres of the entire site and if that elephant complex was built in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago the exhibit would have cost at least triple the amount.

    Also, money is not everything. Los Angeles Zoo features 4 times on the list and yet are there any zoo nerds that would place that facility in America's top 10? Probably no one, even though the zoo is much improved and now has some world-class facilities. Did Philadelphia Zoo's new children's section really have to cost $33 million? Is Elephant Odyssey's $45 million at San Diego Zoo worth the expense?

    There are examples of top-notch exhibits that have transformed or reinvigorated zoos. Reid Park's $10 million on Expedition Tanzania has put that little zoo on the map; Henry Vilas spent the same amount and Arctic Passage has generated huge attendance numbers; while $134 million was spent in a single year at 5 Texas zoos (Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso and San Antonio). Some zoos spent big and then have been coasting with minimal improvement for more than a decade (Palm Beach) while others appear to have endless pits of money. I was in a friendly debate with a couple of zoo nerds last month and all 3 of us agreed on what we perceived as America's top 5 zoos...although we had them in all different orders. It is not a surprise that San Diego, Omaha, Saint Louis, Columbus and Bronx all have large attendance numbers and have spent millions on creating world-class exhibits and we came to the conclusion that one could make a strong argument that those are the top 5 zoos in the country; yet each of them has invested in poor exhibits at one time or another.
     
  7. girafee1985

    girafee1985 Active Member

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    surprised the Bronx zoo's children's zoo renovation or island giants didn't make the list.Can't believe the cost of Madagascar as the exhibit is not overly large.
     
  8. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if somebody can link this list to effects - what was the rise of zoo attendance and money raised for conservation?

    And as somebody who is not impressed by simply spending money - anybody can supply list of zoos which spend most on conservation in the last years?
     
  9. temp

    temp Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately I have been unable relocate it, but a few years ago I saw an article that had looked at zoo spendings and involvement in in-situ conservation related projects. A very rough summary was that North American and West European zoos overall were comparable and most medium and large zoos were involved in multiple projects, but the Wildlife Conservation Society (Bronx+Central Park+Prospect Park+Queens Zoos, and NY Aquarium) were in a league of their own. They far surpassed everybody else, at least from an economic standpoint.
     
  10. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    As others have said, while the list is a great job and fascinating, it does not in itself tell us much. Elephant exhibits are always more expensive than lion exhibits. The elephant barn is a big building and the enclosure is both large and has big heavy-duty fences. A polar bear exhibit is always more expensive than a black bear exhibit, it has pools with filtering and most often underwater viewing. An "exhibit" that is large and complex might include new rest rooms, a restaurant, education classrooms, etc. Or not. Bronx Zoo's Madagascar's budget largely went to saving a landmarked building rather than to lemur exhibits. Columbus Zoo's "Heart of Africa" included a new parking lot, restaurant and special events building.

    To tie new exhibits to real visitor increases is also a challenge. Weather is everything for zoo attendance. Other exciting entertainments in the region will compete (would this zoo's "bump" in attendance have been greater if the near-by water park hadn't opened a new area at the same time?).

    I enjoyed seeing Snowleopard's list and all that it contained. I wouldn't get too involved attempting to data mine it

    What surprises me, studying the list, is that the economic tumult of 2007/8 had little effect on the construction of exhibits. I had the impression it had.
     
    Last edited: 20 Jun 2015
  11. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that the near-depression had a profound effect in some ways. The new tiger exhibit at the San Diego Wild Animal Park was originally meant to be a multi-species complex. It was significantly scaled back from its original plan and was delayed for several years. I imagine that the same was probably true for several other exhibits.
     
  12. jibster

    jibster Well-Known Member

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    Besides the scaling back of some construction, the recession probably slowed the completion of some projects and led to the cancellation/postponement of others. For example, at Columbus (home to two of the exhibits listed), both exhibits as completed were delayed beyond their original projected dates (4 years for the Heart of Africa) and both exhibits were significantly scaled back from original plans. Neither the delays nor the scale-backs were as significant in the exhibits completed prior to the years covered.

    While it does appear that there were significantly fewer of these multi-million dollar projects completed in the earlier years snowleopard surveyed without more data, it's hard to know whether this is actually a statistically significant change. Many zoos don't begin final planning/design or construction until funding is in place, so the real effects of the recession may be still to come (one important point is that exhibits planned to be finished in the next two years may not be completed in time and all of the numbers given are mere estimates at this point). Also telling are the large numbers of elephant exhibits (many built specifically due to the change in AZA elephant policy) - I can't imagine new/renovated exhibits that would not involve more than $10 million price tag. Once the new AZA policy has gone into effect, we might see a large drop overall in the number of multi-million dollar exhibits. The large number of polar bear exhibits may represent a current trend that just happens to involve a species that required larger-than-average expenditures. And of course, there are the issues of inflation and other rising costs - some exhibits may even have cost more than $10 million solely because of the recession (delays in building due to lack of funds, etc.)

    What is more telling from this great list snowleopard compiled is the type of exhibits for which zoos are willing to expend such large sums. As noted, elephants and polar bears are the two that appear most common, but I think this can explained in terms of those species necessarily involving large sums that will surpass the $10 million dollar exhibits. Plus, exhibits for both elephants (due to the coming AZA policy) and polar bears (due to changes in modern exhibitry) in many zoos are the most due for renovation or replacement that would exceed the $10 million mark. Compare this to, for an example off the top of my head, giraffes: the number of zoos which have changed (or will change) their giraffe exhibits to allow for the now-ubiquitous giraffe feeding is probably quite large - but modification of existing giraffe exhibits does not require the same expenditure of funds, so this trend may not be represented to the same effect (outside of the large African savanna exhibits - and to my cursory examination, it looks like there are a good dozen of those represented in this list). Looking at the list as a whole (and I'm going what I know, rather than specifically checking each exhibit - I acknowledge this is merely from a cursory glance), what is more striking is how many of these exhibits are focusing on zoogeographical regions and how few exhibits are focusing on the taxonomic grouping of the past. With the exception of aquaria and reptile exhibits and a few outliers (I see one big cat complex and one bird complex, both at the Philadelphia zoo, which is so constrained by space that a taxonomic approach may be its only way to maintain a comprehensive collection), everything that is not focused on a single species appears to be focused on zoogeography. Besides renovations, when is the last time U.S. zoo has opened a new (as opposed to renovated) bird house? Or a big cat house? Or a pachyderm building?
     
  13. Wild wolverine

    Wild wolverine Well-Known Member

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    Hey snowleopard, great list! Very interesting to see how much all of these things cost. But there is a future exhibit at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago that you forgot to mention. A $22 million polar bear and penguin exhibits are supposed to open in 2016. Here is a link to the exhibit details: Polar Bear and Penguin Habitats | New Exhibits | Lincoln Park Zoo
     
  14. Gulo gulo

    Gulo gulo Well-Known Member

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    Most of the money usually spent on exhibits and complexes is used for things beyond what visitors see and experience. The utilities and mechanicals eat a lot of the budget just to make things work. With green construction and energy saving measures, they cost more up front, and over time, save money and energy waste and consumption. Most new exhibits that follow these LEED examples try to aim for certain levels. Once complete, tests are performed and then they are deemed their LEED levels of certification. Depending on where construction takes place, some Zoos do not need protection against most elements that do not affect their region. Some of the best use of money and what they accomplished with their investment can be seen in a few Zoos. Reid Park Zoo, added Expedition Tanzania. Adding a fantastic exhibit for African Elephants and expanding the Zoos footprint. Birmingham Zoos Trails, the addition of a new barn and large yard against a nice backdrop of mature trees, works well. Yes, the four Bulls living together is a nice accomplishment, but there's more. While the White Rhinos and Male Hippopotamus have their own yards, they are sometimes given access overnight while the Bulls are in their barn and off-show areas. It's nothing like Dallas' mix of Giants, but having White Rhinos and male Hippo together in that large yard is quite the sight. Sometimes each have that yard to themselves and the Hippo has a blast running in and out of the various pools and around the exhibit. Same for the Rhinos. I prefer this exhibit over Dallas. It is all about aesthetics and works well. OKCZoos Asian Elephant exhibit is amazing for it's size. While African Elephants seem to have the upper trunk in terms of new exhibits, it is nice to see money well spent. Polar Bears, are other stars and making new exhibits allows Zoos to get in line with certain standards and remain holders for this species well into the future regardless of a shortage of bears. Some of the newer Polar Bear exhibits are concrete monoliths, while others are soft and easy in the eye and afford the bears space. Not a fan of Pittsburghs, Louisville, Kansas City, Memphis, Brookfield and the newer Saint Louis due to small size and concrete overload. Columbus and Como have done wonders with their Polar Bear exhibits. Henry Vilas added Polar, Grizzly and Seals along with a restaurant and buggy for short money. NCZoo has emerged to topple the concrete monoliths with their expansive new yard and denning areas, already added to their older exhibit. It took years to complete, but money well spent. Buffalo has Arctic Edge coming up replacing their old grottos. Two Polar yards, split level viewing underwater, Bald Eagles, Arctic Wolves and Lynx in their own exhibits. Should be really nice. Baltimore has a great Polar Bear exhibit. I don't think Lincoln Park Zoos will be all that great. Not due to money spent, but size. The demolition cost a mint just like Macaque. While the exhibit is an upgrade, it seems the bears still will have nothing fancy or brag worthy. I don't know why Oregon or PDZoo even bother renovating. The future of bears seems up in the air at the moment and investing millions into something that may not happen, seems like a waste.
    The mention of top zoos in the country seems like playing bingo and rolling the cage and plucking the numbered balls to spell bingo. Saint Louis Zoo is hard to beat. Even with the disastrous Polar Bear exhibjt and subpar Wild Dog, it still remains the best. Hard to find a zoo with the support and investment the community believes in like them. With free admission, how can you go wrong? Future isn't slowing down with this place. There seem to be projects carrying on for years to come. San Diego Zoo has been replacing and adding on with the quickness. Nearly half the Zoo will be revamped once Africa Rocks is complete. Hard to find another Zoo moving at this pace. Are the exhibits worthy? Maybe, maybe not. All new facilities for cats, elephants and others is hard to beat.
     
  15. groundskeeper24

    groundskeeper24 Well-Known Member

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    I was surprised to see Cincinnati's new Africa exhibit absent from the list. The zoo's webpage list the total estimated cost (once fully complete) at 34 million.
     
  16. Gulo gulo

    Gulo gulo Well-Known Member

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    The only good/decent exhibits in Africa are the painted dogs and meerkat. Mostly due to size, as Skimpcinnati usually crams animals in nooks and crannies. Don't get me wrong, they have the quantity to satisfy the public, but their exhibit quality is subpar. Orangutan outdoor is nice. After that, not so much.
     
  17. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I struggled as to what to do with Cincinnati Zoo's African expansion. Isn't the whole thing going to consist of 4 Phases over a large number of years? The final total might well be close to $40 million but since the exhibits are arriving in bits and pieces over several years then I'm not sure that it needs to be on the list. Tough decision. :) I've had numerous friendly debates with fellow zoo nerds over Kansas City Zoo's incredible African expansion in the 1990's. The 95-acres of construction is made up of loads of separate exhibits but it was all built and opened at the same time and thus the argument could be made that it was all one enormous complex.
     
  18. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Another polar bear exhibit? I'll add it to the list, and thanks for the update. I think the score is now elephants 16, polar bears 12. :)
     
    Last edited: 21 Jun 2015
  19. bgeezle513

    bgeezle513 Well-Known Member

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    What do this have to do with Snowleopards original post about Mega Budget American Zoo Exhibits
     
  20. bgeezle513

    bgeezle513 Well-Known Member

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    There is 1 phase left and it opens in 2016