In 2015, GBI’s Oregon Region completed the three-phase Oregon Zoo Elephant Lands project, which included the construction of a 1.5-mile-long service road, the rerouting of the zoo’s train loop, and the construction of new open habitats for the zoo’s elephants, among other things. In May 2019, GBI started work on the Oregon Zoo Polar Passage Habitat project, which involved the construction of brand-new habitats for the zoo’s polar bears and primates, as well as an improved habitat for its rhinos. Work on the three animal habitats was managed as a single construction project. This project was a part of a decade-long zoo makeover, and when complete, accounted for 40% of the zoo’s “new look.”
The zoo’s former polar bear area was demolished to clear the way for a larger habitat. Similarly, the zoo’s old primate building was demolished and replaced with a larger multi-level habitat for chimpanzees. Additionally, the zoo’s existing rhino habitat was expanded. In total, the three habitats include about 4 acres. The job site encompassed a large area in the center of the zoo, and as a result, the rhinos, primates, and polar bears had to be relocated until construction was completed. GBI’s scope of work included site demolition, excavation, embankment, grading, erosion and sediment control, and the installation of sanitary, storm, and water pipes. GBI also placed natural substrates for the zoo animals, installed retaining walls and rockwork features, and placed deadfall for each of the animal habitats.
Today, the new Polar Passage habitat has natural landscaping, deep saltwater pools, and plenty of open space so the polar bears can patrol as they do in the Arctic. The newly redesigned Rhino Ridge habitat now offers more space for the rhinos and better viewing for human visitors. At the Primate Forest habitat, the zoo’s chimpanzees now have more climbing structures, complex spaces for family groups, and opportunities for enrichment and interaction. GBI is proud to have played a part in improving animal welfare and creating more educational opportunities at the Oregon Zoo.