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Award for Saint Louis Zoo Exhibit Designed by PGAV Destinations


This year’s Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) conference marked the second year-in-a-row that PGAV Destinations was associated with a prestigious design award.

PGAV Destinations SeaLion Sound

This year, the PGAV-designed Sea Lion Sound at the Saint Louis Zoo received the highest award given for Exhibit Design Excellence.

The Saint Louis Zoo set an all-time record attendance in 2012, more than 3.5 million visitors, and attributed the success partially to the newly opened Sea Lion Sound. “We had a terrific year because the greater our attendance, the more people we reach and the greater opportunity we have to engage everyone in conserving animals and their habitats, ” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph. D., Dana Brown President & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo.

PGAV SeaLion SoundDave McGuire, VP for architecture and planning at the Saint Louis Zoo, noted that it’s the first time the Zoo has won the award since Big Cat Country in the mid-seventies. The Pacific Northwest-inspired exhibit showcases the first 35-foot-long pinniped (fin-footed marine mammals) tunnel in North America, allowing guests to walk beneath and through the animals’ habitat as they swim and play around them. The exhibit also allows for a variety of above and below engagement opportunities as well as the ever-popular, state of the art First Bank Sea Lion Show each day. 

PGAV louisville zoo glacier runPGAV Destinations was honored along with the Louisville Zoo at last year’s conference when Glacier Run received the “Top Honor in Exhibit Design Excellence, ” another exhibit designed by the firm. Glacier Run is an immersive exhibit at the Louisville Zoo which recreates a Churchill, Alaska-like outpost on the fringe of the arctic wilderness. The experience features polar bears, seals, sea lions, and a rescued grizzly bear family, all in a dynamic mixture of natural habitats and a themed, mining town setting.

“We are sincerely humbled and honored to have our destination designs recognized two years in a row, ” said John Kemper, VP at PGAV Destinations and design lead on both projects. “Both the Louisville Zoo and the Saint Louis PGAV DestinationsZoo are incredible partners to work with, and help push us to innovate and evolve our very best work.” 

PGAV Destinations continues to work on additional zoo and aquarium projects around the world, including Columbus Zoo’s Safari Africa!, Tulsa Zoo’s Lost Kingdom, South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Center, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, and Saint Louis Zoo’s McDonnell Polar Bear Point.  

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