From the Ground Up, a Diary of Pictures and Updates.
April 30, 2013 – Encounter Africa is complete and ready for guests! April was all about “finishing touches” –the outdoor exhibits have beautiful plants, the pools were filled, enrichment logs, trees and feeders are in place and a second black rhino (an interactive sculpture) was installed near the entrance next to the bush plane. April was also a time for our animals to acclimate to their outdoor spaces, and they appear to be very happy with their HUGE new habitats. The elephants have been rolling in the sand and swimming in their pools, the meerkats enjoy eating crickets out of their interactive termite mound and through positive reinforcement training Jumbe, our black rhino, is working on getting comfortable with his outdoor space. Now that Encounter Africa is fully open and operational, keeper talks and animal demonstrations have started daily at 11:30 a.m and 3 p.m in the Encounter Africa Elephant Amphitheatre (weather dependent). Visit Encounter Africa and learn about our pachyderms and their new homes.
OVERALL SITE PLAN: Encounter Africa Download PDF (1.3MB)
February 2013 - We are thrilled, ecstatic, elated, jubilant and just plain excited to open Encounter Africa for a “Work-in-Progress Preview” March 15 through April 30, 2013. During the preview, guests will get to experience many of the exhibit’s new state-of-the-art features. More importantly, they will be able to watch our elephants and black rhino acclimate to their outdoor spaces. Our horticulture department and construction crew continue to push toward Encounter Africa’s Grand Opening on May 1. Currently, our horticulture department is planting a wide variety of plants and native grasses. Meanwhile, our construction crew is adding finishing touches to the elephant demonstration amphitheater and completing the new lion building. Come, take a preview peek at Encounter Africa and say hello to some old and new animal friends.
January 2013 -We’re so close to getting you up-close with our elephants, meerkats and rhino! Final construction on their outdoor exhibits was a priority this month, and only a few hardscaping tasks remain. Four semi-truckloads of landscaping materials have been ordered to create unforgettable outdoor habitats for our African animals. Landscaping will be installed now through May as weather permits.
Our elephants were happy to see guests again during Electric Safari and don’t want to wait until our exhibit grand opening on May 1 to see them again. We are excited to announce that we will be hosting a “work-in-progress preview” March 15 – April 30. Although we’ll still be working on some finishing touches, and it will be too cold to fill our water features, the exhibit will be open to the public! Guests will have the opportunity to watch the elephants and rhino acclimate to their new outdoor exhibits, walk across the sky bridge, experience the new safari tent, take photographs with our elephant sculptures and enjoy all the features of the new elephant barn. Encounter Africa - the opening is almost here!
December 2012 - It’s a bird, it’s a plane… It IS a plane! A restored Beech SNB-5 bush plane was installed this month during the finishing stages of Encounter Africa construction. The aircraft is cantilevered into the black rhino enclosure, giving guests a unique perspective into Jumbe's habitat. The additions of metal shade trees and enrichment trees to the elephant exhibit and extensive work on the new lion building and outdoor habitat are all major accomplishments this month. Phase 2 of construction on Encounter Africa is scheduled to be complete at the end of December. Following construction, animals will be acclimating to their new outdoor spaces and landscaping will be done in time for our Spring 2013 grand opening. Guests attending Electric Safari are getting a special sneak peek of Encounter Africa as the sky bridge and elephant barn are open during the event hours only. Electric Safari runs through Tuesday, January 1 from 5:30 - 8:30pm nightly, with the exception of Christmas Eve.
November 2012 -Colder weather has not slowed down the construction progress on Encounter Africa. In October and November, crews installed four life-sized elephant sculptures, completed work on the safari tent and both meerkat exhibits are now ready for new mobs. Plus, the pools in the elephant area and black rhino exhibit have just been filled to test the concrete – everything is water tight! End-stage construction and finishing touches on Encounter Africa will continue during the day in the coming months, but we are thrilled to announce that the boardwalk and the new Elephant Barn will be accessible to guests starting December 7 – ONLY during Electric Safari! Electric Safari runs Friday, December 7 - Sunday, December 9 and Friday, December 14 - Tuesday, January 1 (Electric Safari closed Christmas Eve) from 5:30 - 8:30pm nightly. For more information about Electric Safari visit: www.cmzoo.org/ElectricSafari.
September 2012 -The Encounter Africa site has been a busy place over the last few weeks. Construction crews can be found working on all of the remaining portions of the project from the boardwalk construction to crafting rock formations. Others are moving around dirt and gravel to help design the landscape and terrain. The Safari Tent has been constructed which will serve as a future viewing and picnic area. We hope to see you during the opening of our new exhibits...our elephants are ready to make a SPLASH!!
July 2012 -The afternoon thunderstorms have not stopped the progress in the Encounter Africa exhibit spaces. The concrete work is taking shape in the elephant and rhino yards and massive amounts of dirt is being placed in the elephant and rhino yards. The new lion holding, viewing and exhibit spaces look different every day. Large pieces of glass for the viewing area was delivered and placed today. Guests can now peek through the chain link fence for a hint of what is to come.
June 2012 - Construction crews are continuing to make things happen at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the new Encounter Africa exhibit. The elephant pool and waterfall are being molded and constructed. The rock work at the new lion holding area is being placed and work is beginning on the new shade structures. Please continue to watch as our progress constantly moves forward.
May 2012 -Asphalt work and planter prep has taken place along the main road allowing for fencing to be removed from view; tons of dirt is being placed for the future rock work in what will soon be the new elephant and rhino yards; the new lion holding building is beginning to take shape; the entire zoo staff is celebrating the completion of our BIGGEST fundraising campaign ever...and that's just what's happening above ground. Stay tuned for future updates and don't forget to come for a visit; the view from here is changing daily.
April 2012 - Fences are up, walking paths are being modified, the new lion holding building is under construction and tons of dirt is being placed. With activity going on in all directions - even the elephants are excited. Please continue to check in as the landscape continues to change and we get closer to the completion of Encounter Africa.
March 2012 - The old elephant building has been demolished and the rubble has been moved from the site. Large pieces of equipment are moving tons of dirt in place to make up the future Elephant and Rhino yards and even more truck loads of dirt are on their way. The main road will be saw cut in the coming weeks to make way for the new exhibit space, changing the look of the entire area just east of the Administration Building. The area adjacent to the Safari Lodge is also receiving a face lift as the area is prepared for the new Lion holding building and exhibit space. Please visit us periodically to watch our progress!!
December 2011 - The new Elephant/Rhino Barn is completed and the elephants are settling into their new home. With the new building in operation big changes are occurring at the old location. The demo of the old elephant building is currently taking place, paving the way for a new state of the art outdoor Elephant, Rhino and African Lion exhibit currently slated to be open in fall of 2012.
September 6, 2011 - Final touches are being made on Phase 1 of the Encounter Africa project. The new hay storage sheds were installed this week, boy our elephants are in for a real treat!! Please continue to check this website over the course of the next few months to see our progress on Phase 2.
August 26, 2011 -The construction crews are cleaning up and the punch list items are under way. The asphalt patching is completed and even the dumpsters have been delivered. It won't be long and the elephants will be in their brand new home.
August 15, 2011 -Excitement about the new elephant building continues to build as crews continue to make progress. The Wilgruen Elephant Center sign was installed this week. The building name is in honor of a very significant donor who loves elephants and all other animals too. Had it not been for donors like them and many others, this project would not have been possible. If you are interested in making a donation to the Encounter Africa campaign, please visit the Encounter Africa Support & Give webpage. Please continue to share in our excitement by watching our weekly progress on this website!
July 1-15, 2011 - The project is taking shape now more all the time so stay-tuned!!!
June 24, 2011 - The roof is nearing completion. In fact, the elephants will soon be able to admire the starlit sky through the large skylights that have been installed as well as the forested landscape to the north through the large garage doors. The Boardwalk is taking shape promising a beautiful view leading to the massive new building.
June 17, 2011 - There is a building structure, an enrichment tree, tons of bollards, an elephant trek and now we even have a portion of the roof in place! Excitement about the Encounter Africa project is growing as we get closer to a finished building.
June 3, 2011 - The sunlight peeking through the roof of the new Elephant Building has helped the construction crews at Encounter Africa give life to a new enrichment tree. Duct work, heaters, boardwalk supports and tons of bollards are being installed. The placement of the roof panels should begin next week. As the summer heats up...so does the excitement around Encounter Africa!
May 27, 2011 - As Memorial Day Weekend approaches the crews on the Encounter Africa site are working harder than ever. The shotcrete wall is nearing completion and the lines of bollards are being set. Next week promises to bring excitement with the installation of the roof structure. Join us next week for another update...
May 20, 2011 - The Encounter Africa construction site is buzzing with activity. While design and construction meetings were taking place in the Zoo Library, construction crews were placing bollards, installing colorful walls and pouring floors in the new building. Please check out the picture from this week to see a sneak peak inside the new building.
May 13, 2011 - It's Friday the 13th and the progress at the Encounter Africa site has been so great this week its almost scary. Sewer manholes are being placed, internal barn work is being done and literally tons of dirt is being moved. The site changes by the moment and as our summer season and the opening date for Encounter Africa approaches excitement continues to grow.
May 10, 2011 -Look at the size of that building! The roof structure beams have been set and precast concrete walls are being placed as we speak. Activity on the site is taking place in all directions. In just a couple short months our elephants will get to explore their new home. Things are moving fast...stay tuned to our website to catch our exciting weekly updates.
April 21, 2011 -This week brought lots of changes at the Encounter Africa site. Tons and tons of concrete are arriving daily, the installation of roof beams continues, the sewer lines are taking shape and ground stabilization materials have been placed on the north side of the building. Portico and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo representatives are making final color choices and JE Dunn continues to push forward on-site.
April 11, 2011 -The Encounter Africa site changes each and every day! This week brought us the beginning stages of the roof line for the new Elephant and Rhino Building, a new line of internal bollards and it looks as though construction crews are paving the way for what will be portions of the new boardwalk. Please check our website in the coming weeks to see signs of more and more progress. Things are really getting exciting!!
April 4, 2011 -Things are moving fast at the Encounter Africa site. The first signs of electrical, water and drainage lines are visible and the future bird holding that will be under the new mezzanine is underway. Stock piles of building materials can be found in the south parking lot and large pieces of equipment seem to be running non-stop. Excitement continues to build as progress is being made every day.
March 21, 2011 - Daylight savings time shines new light on the Encounter Africa project. Portions of the concrete building walls have been set and the first row of internal bollards is currently being placed. It's beginning to look at lot like...a building! Workers can pass through future elephant doors and down a pathway between a 42' shotcrete wall and the concrete building walls; a great way to gain a unique perspective of the size of this project. The next few weeks promise major progress and lots of excitement.
March 14, 2011 - You can see changes in all directions this week as JE Dunn prepares for the installation of the barn walls as early as next week. Truck after truck has arrived delivering the first portions of the building walls, hundreds of bollards and tons of dirt. Next week should prove to be exciting as the building will begin to grow from the ground up and take a more three dimensional shape.
March 4, 2011 - What an exciting week!! Successful meetings for Phase 2 of the Encounter Africa Project were held on Wednesday and Thursday. Representatives from Portico, JE Dunn and many subcontractors were on-site to discuss details, costs, design, etc. During the meetings and throughout the week T.O. (site superintendent for JE Dunn) and his crew continued to progress on the building of Phase 1. Bollards have been delivered and building walls should be arriving shortly. Please continue to check in on our progress!
February 25, 2011 - Ugly weather will not prevent the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo from "Encountering Africa" this Summer! Building foundation and shotcrete walls are taking shape, water and electrical lines are being buried and the future elephant trek currently serves as a construction vehicle corrido. We are excited about the progress being made even in the chilliest of temperatures.