“you bring a unique experiential perspective to the work; you don’t just replicate what you see at every other Zoos…and when asked to deliver full products on half budgets, you always keep the experience intact…effectively managing multiple strong personalities, with a clear focus on animal health and the visitor experience.”
Shelly Lakly, Ph.D., former Vice President Education and Conservation Programs, Zoo Atlanta
This project represents the first phase of a multi-phase exhibit area devoted the zoo’s youngest audience . There is a Tented Camp area, “Base Camp Discovery” for overnights, Summer Camp and other educational programs. This is set in our South American tropical forest, “Brazilian Outpost”, with free-ranging exhibit areas for the Tamarins, Sloth and Tamandua.
The children can assist in on-going Tamarin research projects to learn that caring for wildlife involves careful observations and data collection. The Tented Camp can sleep 90 children and 6 adults. A small outdoor classroom overlooks the “Wonderful Wetlands” exhibit. The Tamarins have a small holding building that contains a large indoor exhibit area for inclement weather.
Phase II included a big Australian Sheep barn, “Outback Station”, with indoor exhibits and interactives, as well as space for sheep, goats, kookaburra and kangaroos. The 5000 s.f. barnyard allows for free contact with the Sheep and Goats and activities to learn how to care for domestic wildlife. The complex includes a 2000 s.f. walk-through animal barn, 450 s.f. keeper service center, 5500 s.f. red kangaroo yard, and a hand-washing station.
Upon completion of the Tamarin Forest, the Zoo Atlanta Staff was asked by their donor, “What’s next?” Apparently this was a difficult question, as there were lots of options, but they hadn’t done a comprehensive plan within this “KidZone” area, beyond the Orkin Family area, to determine a consensus response.
KidZone Planning Workshops
Ursa was asked to lead a concept planning process to answer the question with a definitive list. The Plan represents 4-5 workshop meetings with the staff to brainstorm and analyze options for further development. Goals and mission statements where established and a multi page “Wishlist” was documented. In the end, the plan provides five major exhibit areas:
• KidZone Playground and Entry Area
• Australian Walkabout
• Wildlife Theater and Snack Bar
• South American Monkey Jungle and friends
• Penguin Plunge
Previous successful projects such as the Outback Station contact area and Train, Safe Playground and Endangered Species Carousel, were integrated into the new overall plan, and new elements were outlined. A new circulation system was designed, as well as a new entry. The Team recommended (unanimously) that the Penguin Plunge be advanced as “What’s Next”, but by this point, the Donor had moved on.