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null.gifLOCATIONKEY WORDSANIMALSAWARDSnull.gifDESCRIPTIONSIZECOSTSOPENING DATEnull.gifDESIGNCONSTRUCTIONLOCAL CONDITIONSPLANTSnull.gifFEATURES ANIMALSFEATURES KEEPERSFEATURES VISITORSINTERPRETATIONnull.gifRESEARCHMANAGEMENTCONSERVATIONLOCAL RESOURCESnull.gif
 
 
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Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Heart of Africa: Lions

Karen Huebel, Director, Theming & Interpretive Design – Planning & Design Department (author for Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)
Barbara Brem (editor for ZooLex)
Published 2017-2-6

 

UP LOCATION:

4850 W Powell Rd, PO Box 400, Powell, OH 43065
Phone: 011-614-645 3400
URL: http://www.columbuszoo.org


UP KEY WORDS:

Savanna, expansive vista, immersion


UP ANIMALS:

Family:Species:Common Name:Capacity:
FelidaePanthera leo krugeriAfrican lion1.2.0


UP AWARDS:

    2015 AZA Top Honors

    2015 ENR Midwest Best Cultural Project

    2015 LEED Certified Restaurant Building

    2014 Experience Columbus EXPY Award

    2014 Green Restaurant Association 4-Star Status


UP DESCRIPTION:

The Heart of Africa is home to 155 animals and 25 species.

The guest is transported with the sights and sounds of a busy village. Entering the region through a hand-painted portico, guests begin their experience at the outskirts of Mudiwa – a lively, colorful African village replica, located at the edge of the savanna exhibits. Pathway theming anticipates the exploration that awaits the guests. A half-dozen bikes or so, laden with empty water jugs have been parked along fences, gates and walls that are covered with hand-painted murals. A camel ride is located on the opposite side of the path. Conservation messaging begins on this pathway as well – for example, a large wooden map of Africa highlights the countries and field projects that the zoo supports.

Once guests have entered Mudiwa Village, they find brightly painted kiosks which define a market area where Fair Trade products from Africa are offered for sale. The Mapori Restaurant serves local, freshly prepared and vegetarian food with some menu items featuring African cuisine. From the village, guests can take in the grassland vista and gaze onto the savanna dotted with clusters of wildebeests, gazelle, ostrich, zebras and giraffes. Beyond the village, guests enter the theme area of Ajabu National Park, where they can enjoy more views of the 3.2 hectare (eight-acre) savanna and the animals that live there. Graphic panels take on the look of a field guide of the savanna animals. A seemingly stranded airplane offers close views of lions. Continuing, guests come across a watering hole in which animals are continually rotated throughout the day; one may see ostrich in the morning only to return in the afternoon to see a cheetah run demonstration.

The landscape mimics a savanna grassland with pockets of trees scattered throughout the animals habitats and public area spaces. In the distance, a hill with scrubby plants completes what appears to be an endless savanna, and screens views of the adjacent residential neighborhood and perimeter fence system.

The Heart of Africa was designed with several project goals and interpretive outcomes in mind: to bring giraffe and zebra back to central Ohio; to create fun, exceptional guest experiences that offer inspiring conservation success stories and that feature Jack Hanna as the virtual “tour guide”; and develop a region of the zoo that exceeds current standards and trends for animal care and management, and fiscal and environmental sustainability.
 

UP SIZE:

The Heart of Africa encompasses 173,922 m2 (43 acres) of land. Outdoor animal areas include both the exhibit and the off-exhibit holding. Indoor visitor space includes the Mapori Restaurant while the outdoor viewing encompasses outdoor seating at the Mapori Restaurant and the lion viewing area. Staff area is indicated under "Others". Area for the public walkways is not included in the figures below.

Space allocation in square meters:

useindoorsoutdoors     total exhibit    
accessible     total     accessible     total    
animals1741,761
visitors65378
others166
total9931,8392,832

 

UP COSTS:

US Dollar 30,810,498 including 8.50 % for design.

Construction - 83.60 %; Site Furniture, Equipment, Etc. - 4.8 %; Interpretive items - 3.10 %
 

UP OPENING DATE:

22 May 2014
 

UP DESIGN:

Beginning: May 2011

  • Architect/ Planner: PGAV Destinations, St. Louis, MO USA
  • Structural Engineer: Jezerinac Geers & Assoc., Inc., Dublin, OH USA
  • Food Service Equipment Designer: Louis R. Polster Co., Columbus, OH USA
  • MEP/FP Engineers: Prater Engineering Associates, Inc., Dublin, OH USA
  • Landscape Designer: Zoo Horticulture Consulting and Design, Ossining, NY USA
  • Surveyors, Planners, Scientists, Civil Engineers: EMH&T Engineers, New Albany, OH USA
  • Habitat Construction / Theming: The Nassal Co., Orlando, FL USA
  • Interpretive Design: Roto, Dublin, OH USA
  • Theming: Optic Nerve Art Corp., Columbus, OH USA

UP CONSTRUCTION:

Beginning: March 2013

  • Construction Management: Messer Construction Co., Columbus, OH USA
  • Construction: Smoot Construction Co. of Ohio, Columbus, OH USA

UP LOCAL CONDITIONS:

walter.gif This is a climatic diagram for the closest weather station.

345 m altitude
10.8 °C mean annual temperature
967 mm mean annual precipitation

 

UP PLANTS:

The site was a farm field so all plantings were new and selected to visually represent the African savanna.

The plant list specifies the Latin names of the plants used for this exhibit.


UP FEATURES DEDICATED TO ANIMALS:

With the exception of hidden moats, the lion habitat is at the same approximate elevation as the adjacent savanna. Therefore, the lions (as well as the guests) have an unobstructed view of the animals which are foraging in the adjacent habitat.

The plane wing has air conditioning in the wing to make it an inviting spot for the lions to cool down.

The den in the lion building was constructed in the most isolated part of the building. It was designed with climate control, sound-proofing and prepped for birth watch cameras.
 

UP FEATURES DEDICATED TO KEEPERS:

The interior of the lion building has an open layout which provides clear views of the building. The building is zoned with multiple man doors to assure safety.

A shift-way which runs the length of the seven bedrooms allows keepers to shift the lions into the exhibit. The shift way has no exterior doors, eliminating the possibility of a lion being shifted into a keeper area. Keepers manage the squeeze and the transfer of the lions from animal rooms through the transfer chute in the north keeper aisle. A scale is positioned within the chute so that weights can be monitored during daily transfers.

The south and east keeper corridors limit access into animal care rooms as well as limiting the operational function of shifting animals from one animal room to the next. The large hallway along the south end of the building was designed to accommodate crate training.

Keepers maintain a safety zone during keeper talks. The safety zone is designated by solid temporary stanchions during the training and demonstration session.
 

UP FEATURES DEDICATED TO VISITORS:

The lion exhibit is the first habitat that the guests encounter. Design and engineering of several moat and containment fence systems make the two exhibits blend seamlessly. Visitors have four opportunities to view the exhibit which is elongated adjacent to the savannah.

View 1 is outdoor viewing. Guests overlook the habitat as they enter the village.

View 2 is located in the Mapori Restaurant. The guests enter the air-conditioned serving line and then sit in an open-air dining area. Here the guests are separated by a large glass viewing window over which galvanized wire mesh panels allow the exchange of smells and sounds.

View 3 is the Lion Demonstration Area / Ajabu National Park. A large lion training door which is generally “closed” can be “opened” during keeper talks to bring the lions closer to the guests.

View 4 is from a plane which was craned into place such that a portion of it is accessible to guests and a portion to the lions. Custom fabricated glass panels provide tight containment. The plane is reinforced so windows and “skin” meet “lion requirements”. The interior of the plane is wheelchair accessible and provides viewing into the lion habitat. The cockpit can also be accessed and is complete with push buttons and automated prop noises. During hot days, the air-conditioned wing of the plane attracts the lions and guests are able to get an up-close experience as well as great photos.

Each area offers themed signage and exhibitry as well as examples of the Zoo’s conservation partners and important field work. Guests have the opportunity to interact with interpretive and animal staff both through scheduled presentations and informal discussions.

There are two food stands in addition to the main restaurant; restrooms on either side of the region; smaller carts for beverages/ice cream; separate smoking areas on either side of the park; keeper talk locations; shade panels for viewing in comfort; misters for hot days; exterior and interior seating at the restaurant; nursing station for mothers with infants; speaker system for keeper talks; and glass viewing inside the restaurant of both the lion and savanna.
 

UP INTERPRETATION:

Visitors can purchase items made by one of the African co-ops supported by the Zoo. The schoolhouse stage hosts programs, activities, and performances each day. Guests can attend keeper talks and talk with docents about the different conservation organizations whose work the Zoo supports, and they can donate loose change to conservation organizations. Signs and interpretive material has been coordinated with the African theme.
 

UP MANAGEMENT:

The lion exhibit has strategically placed “pride rocks” to allow the lions to view the massive savanna in the cool morning and late afternoon. As the heat of the afternoon rises, the lions seek shade and cooler temperatures along the air-conditioned wing of the airplane.

Zoo security personnel monitor temperatures in animal holding areas, assure all doors and gates are locked, and maintain a secure perimeter. Emergency medical workers (EMS) providers are on-site during guest hours while first aid / CPR / AED certified security staff is available during non-visitor hours. A fire detection system is monitored 24/7.
 

UP RESEARCH:

A multi-phase summative evaluation was conducted in the months following the opening of the exhibit to assess the guest experience, determine the impact of the exhibit on guest knowledge, determine the affective impact of the exhibit on guests, see if conservation interest of the guests was impacted, and determine the success of interactive / educational experiences.
 

UP CONSERVATION:

The zoo participates in the dama gazelle SSP and the Masai giraffe SSP.

The Zoo features 11 complex and on-going wildlife conservation efforts related to the African savanna animals that are on display for the guests. Over $420,000 has been donated to in-situ conservation projects related to savanna species. Interpretive tools focusing on these projects are incorporated into the guest experience in a number of ways including themed signage, interactive elements and dimensional props.

During the design and construction process, on-site efforts were catalogued in the following areas: recycle / landfill program, water efficiency, indoor environmental air quality, materials and resources, energy and atmosphere and sustainable sites. Construction recycling for the entire Heart of Africa site exceeded 91%.

Re-use or repurposing of existing materials was a key factor. An 1890’s one-room schoolhouse was repurposed as an African schoolhouse. An aged barn was dismantled and restored in a nearby county park as a feature for their 1940’s era family farm. A grove of Osage orange trees was protected and incorporated into the guest pathway. Holding and service areas were designed around an existing grove of trees. Boulders were harvested from the site and previous zoo projects for use as animal exclusion barriers. Topsoil was stocked-piled and re-used in the savanna. All site spoils were used on the site. The wooded portion on the north side of the site was protected and maintained as a backdrop and screen. Trees that were cut for utility runs and / or service drives were re-used on the site as deadfall and upright snags. A geothermal system was added to the existing system to heat and cool the Mapori restaurant.

The Mapori Restaurant was awarded a 4-star Green Restaurant Certification in 2014, and LEED certification was achieved in 2015.

The lion moat, as well as remote moats at the perimeter serves as temporary water detention basins.
 

UP LOCAL RESOURCES:


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Overview
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium,

 
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Site Plan
©PGAV Destinations, 2013

 
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African lions (01)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Grahm S. Jones, 2014

 
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Entry portal (02)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Grahm S. Jones, 2014

 
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Mudiwa Village (03)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 2016

 
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View across lions from Mudiwa Village (04)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, PGAV Destinations, 2014

 
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Lion and savanna overview (05)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, PGAV Destinations, 2014

 
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View across lion habitat into the savanna beyond (06)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Grahm S. Jones, 2014

 
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Mapori Restaurant view (07)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, PGAV Destinations, 2014

 
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Close encounters (08)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 2014

 
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Mapori Restaurant indoor viewing (09)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, PGAV Destinations, 2014

 
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Mapori Restaurant view into lion habitat (10)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, PGAV Destinations, 2014

 
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Mapori Restaurant view into lion habitat (11)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 2014

 
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Lion habitat (12)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Astrid Kreidl, 2014

 
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Lion habitat (13)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Astrid Kreidl, 2014

 
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Building mural (14)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 2014

 
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Lion demonstration area / Ajabu National Park (15)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, PGAV Destinations, 2014

 
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Lion demonstration area / Ajabu National Park (16)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, PGAV Destinations, 2014

 
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Beech-18 airplane (17)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, PGAV Destinations, 2014

 
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Up-close encounter (18)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, PGAV Destinations, 2014

 
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Crates at stranded airplane (19)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Astrid Kreidl, 2014

 
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View toward the lion holding building (20)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 2014

 
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Exterior of the lion holding building (21)
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Educational signage (22)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 2016

 
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Educational signage (23)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 2016

 
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Educational signage (24)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 2016

 
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Multiple man door systems (25)
©Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Grahm S. Jones, 2014

 

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