The new gorilla habitat at the Franklin Park Zoo provides a state-of-the-art outdoor exhibit, training, and visitor viewing area for the lowland gorilla. A critically endangered species, the new habitat is key to improving the quality of life for the gorillas and creates an educational and immersive experience for Zoo visitors.
The close-up encounter exhibit allows guests to observe the behaviors and social interactions of six gorillas housed among a mix of real and fabricated trees, sculpted shotcrete rocks, climbing vines, moats, and a riverbed. The 23,000 square foot open-air habit sits within a soaring, netted aviary structure. New exterior and interior lighted pathways direct guests through the exhibit to observational outposts. A designated training area offers guests the opportunity to view sessions between the animals and zookeepers. Additionally, the project provides new subsurface utilities, and on-site storm water management.
Ensuring the safety of the gorillas in the final product is a priority for the Zoo. In the end, the exhibit must be safe for the animals, Zoo staff and the visiting patrons. Throughout construction, careful monitoring of noise, vibrations and any other disruptions to the gorillas and animals in other nearby exhibits was critical. This was part of the safety training that all subcontractors received before beginning their work. They also were given access to information and resources to learn more about the gorillas and why the Zoo was undertaking this important project. It helped our construction partners to become more invested in a project they could be proud to be a part of.