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PGAV Destinations’ Receives Top Zoo Industry Design Award


The Association of Zoos and Aquariums honored the Louisville Zoo and PGAV Destinations with the top design award in the zoo industry for the Louisville Zoo’s Glacier Run attraction.

john kemper pgav destinations louisville zoo design

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. AZA honored Glacier Run during the annual Conference, awarding it the top honor in “Exhibit Design Excellence” out of eight competing submissions.

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According to PGAV Destinations VP John Kemper, “we’re sincerely honored that our design has received the country’s highest award for exhibit design, and we couldn’t be more proud than to have achieved it through our partnership with the Louisville Zoo, ” citing that the exhibit won the award for creating innovative training and enrichment for bears, increasing visitor engagement and average stay time at the zoo, and creating a space and program resources to aid in the recovery of rescued animals.

The design goals of Glacier Run also included opportunities to interpret important messages like climate change and habitat encroachment, and inspire visitors to increase their personal conservation efforts. The new exhibit allows its bears to explore two very different environments via a bridge that crosses over a main visitor pathway. Animal barriers are interwoven with guest spaces, increasing the sense of adventure and respect for the animals. The exhibit provides a great diversity of opportunities for visitors to engage with the animals, from sea lion presentations to bear training sessions to classroom space to dynamic viewing angles.

“Glacier Run is everything we hoped it would be. When we started the design planning stage, PGAV Destinations listened closely to every aspect of our vision and created a beautiful, innovative and engaging design that would help tell the story of the arctic animals’ and their struggle for survival”, said Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak. “We wanted guests to have an immersive and full destination experience and PGAV achieved that and more.”

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