Alaskan Adventure, Concept Art from Omaha Zoo Foundation

Omaha Zoo Expansion: Alaskan Adventure

This summer will already be tremendously busy and exciting at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha due to the opening of the African Grasslands exhibit (see here and here), but another smaller expansion will also be completed for visitors to enjoy.  The Alaskan Adventure, a kids play area and splash park, is set to debut this summer as well, and it will serve as a preview of future North American exhibits that are coming to the zoo. The Alaskan Adventure will be located next to the zoo’s current Durham Bear Canyon exhibit.

Alaskan Adventure Project Layout, Concept Art from Omaha Zoo Foundation

Alaskan Adventure Project Layout/Concept Art from Omaha Zoo Foundation

The $14-million Alaskan Adventure will serve the dual purpose of allowing kids to play and cool off during hot summer days at the zoo while also providing some education about Alaskan ecosystems.  A collection of over 75 bronze sculptures of Alaskan wildlife, including orcas, grizzly bears, sea lions, puffins, and even an 18-foot-tall humpback whale, will serve as the splash fountains in the 18,625-square-foot play area.

Construction Progress, Photo by Omaha Zoo Foundation

Construction Progress/Photo: Omaha Zoo Foundation

Each of the sculptures has been designed with the animals’ natural behaviors in mind, and the water nozzles have been positioned on the sculptures to mimic splashing water of the animals in action.  For example, the water will be sprayed from the humpback whale’s flippers as it would when a whale breaches out of the ocean.  The sculptures were created by local artist, Matthew Placzek.

Coastal Shores, Concept Art by Omaha Zoo

Coastal Shores/Concept Art by Omaha Zoo

Alaskan Adventure will not be guests’ only encounters with Alaskan wildlife in the zoo, as the splash park will eventually be located adjacent to brand-new exhibits for polar bears and sea lions in the zoo’s upcoming “Coastal Shores” expansion.  The Omaha Zoo has released some concept drawings of Coastal Shores, although the timeline for completion of this project has not yet been announced.

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