Tons of dirt moved, gigantic rock structures created, old barriers demolished, new pathways laid out…these are just a few of the recent happening behind the construction fences in the African Journey area of the Zoo where the lion, giraffe, and elephant habitats are being renovated. Take a look below at a few behind-the-scenes views of the progress on this massive project that will benefit some of the biggest animals we care for.

Elephant Habitat:

Where the Rock Island penguin exhibit once stood, the new upper elephant habitat is taking shape. The barriers and future shade structures are going up and the ground is being graded to make it ideal for the elephants to roam.

With the addition of this new yard, the elephant habitat space will nearly triple. Features of the new habitat will include a sand pit and wallowing area. Guest pathways will run alongside this vast new savannah area.

The Savannah passage between the upper and lower elephant savannahs is complete. The elephant-sized pathway includes rocks that were saved from the old Rock Island exhibit and used to create switchbacks so the elephants can navigate the slight incline between the two yards with ease.


Giraffe Habitat:

The landscape between the giraffe and elephant habitats is changing. Behind the Oasis cafe, the smaller outdoor giraffe yard is being extended and new guest paths will be created.

A big change recently took place in the outside giraffe habitat that you will notice if you visit. The smaller of the two outdoor giraffe yards has been completely demolished in preparation for it to be expanded and flattened. Don’t worry, you can still visit our herd inside the Giraffe House throughout this process.

Creating a flat habitat requires moving tons and tons of dirt. It will all be worth it when the giraffes are able to go outside more often in a variety of weather conditions they were less able to navigate when the outdoor yard had a slope.

Guests visiting the Giraffe Feeding Station are getting a new view, too! New rock-inspired barriers are quite literally taking shape.


Lion Habitat:

The moat that separated the lion and giraffe habitats has been filled in to make way for a new guest pathway between the two species as well as impressive glass viewing walls.

Some rock detail work is beginning in the lion habitat. There will be new places for the pride to lounge and even better opportunities for you to see them up close.

Big changes for big creatures. It’s #AllForAnimals.

For more info on the African Journey renovation project, including renderings of what the new habitats will look like, click here.