The $30.4 million project will develop 43 acres of the zoo’s current 586-acre expanse and is scheduled to open in May of 2014.
Tom Stalf, interim CEO and president of the Columbus Zoo, said the new exhibit will simulate the look, feel, tastes, smells, and sounds of the African savannah, in addition to a marketplace, new restaurant, and a creative, art-making hub for guests.
An innovative array of close-encounters and a grassland plain safari will offer visitors many opportunities to learn about and interact with some of their long-time favorite animals, as well as some new species, including gazelles, impalas, cheetahs, zebras, monkeys, ostriches, and a pride of lions. Guests will even be able to hand-feed giraffes, zip-line across the savannah, and truly get up-close and personal with the animals and their trainers. “It’s something that’s not been done before,” said Jack Hanna, director emeritus at the Columbus Zoo.
Safari Africa! is the zoo’s first expansion since the opening of the $20 million Polar Frontier in 2010 and is the first project of the comprehensive master plan developed by PGAV Destinations. “We’ve worked very closely with the Columbus Zoo to develop a thorough, strategic business plan for them,” says PGAV Destinations Vice President John Kemper. “Safari Africa! is the first realization of that strategy, bringing together cutting-edge environmental developments for the animals as well as immersive, fun, and exciting experiences for visitors that drive them to become more active and engaged in the mission of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.”
PGAV Destinations has also been involved with the Columbus Zoo’s Zoombezi Bay water park, and will continue to plan and develop the 110-acre space north of Polar Frontier in conjunction with the master plan.