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PGAV Destinations Creates a First-of-Its-Kind Exhibit for the Saint Louis Zoo


Related: Saint Louis Science Centre Announces New Exhibition Hall designed by PGAV Destinations / PGAV Destinations Inspires Connections with Animals at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago

New Way to View Sea Lions Will Be Breath-taking Experience

PGAV Destinations, a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations, is pleased to announce the ground-breaking Sea Lion Sound exhibit that will be created for the first time in North America for the Saint Louis Zoo.

In honor of the world-renowned institution’s centennial year, the zoo has embarked on a $120 million seven-year campaign entitled “The Living Promise.” As they plan for the future, the zoo aims to create new habitats that reflect their promise to be the very best stewards of their animals as well as provide a most memorable experience for guests.

To kick off the zoo’s campaign, PGAV Destinations and the Saint Louis Zoo staff designed an innovative exhibit for the especially popular sea lions. Coming in 2012, guests will have an exceptional opportunity to experience their beloved sea lions in an imaginative and resourceful way created by the design team of PGAV Destinations and Zoo staff: the first-time in North America that an underwater viewing tube allows visitors to observe the sea lions swimming overhead and next to them while walking through an acrylic tunnel.

“This exhibit replaces a family favorite exhibit with a unique point-of-view where guests get to experience the underwater ballet of swimming sea lions, ” states John Kemper, PGAV Destinations Project Designer.

In addition to the viewing tunnel, the 1.55-acre Sea Lion Sound complex will feature salt-water pools and a new 850-seat Lichtenstein Sea Lion Arena for animal presentations. Plans are to break ground for exhibit in the fall.

Sea Lion Sound will also update the infrastructure of the current 1950s habitat. “A recreated natural coastal setting will include re-circulated, filtered, heated and chilled saltwater, ” explains Kemper.

Projects down the road for zoo include larger and more naturalistic homes for two bear species. The new Grizzly Ridge refurbishes two of the original bear grottos, which once served as cage-less models for zoos when they were first built. Polar Bear Point will feature an “ice cave, ” a simulated arctic environment to observe the polar bears swim underwater as they navigate their new environment.

PGAV Destinations has previously worked with the Saint Louis Zoo, creating the wildly successful Penguin & Puffin Coast exhibit, still the Zoo’s most-visited exhibit, seven years running. Opened in 2003, this exhibit houses gentoo, rockhopper, and Humboldt penguins, tufted and horned puffins, and various other water birds. With amazing proximity, guests get to see the birds play in an environment of rocky cliffs, where a 22-foot-waterfall plunges into the exterior Humboldt pools. Surging tide sounds and theatrical lighting to simulate austral light cycles contribute to the enjoyment of an authentic sea-like environment.

No one knows more about engaging people with animals than PGAV. With more than 100 zoological projects, they are committed to innovation with a passion for animals and deep understanding of visitors.  Their work with zoos and aquariums ranges from strategic master plans to individual animal exhibits, and includes other critical aspects of guest experience and business operations such as gift shops, restaurants, special event facilities, wayfinding, and front gate complexes.

About the Saint Louis Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. The Saint Louis Zoo has been named America’s #1 Zoo by Zagat Survey and Parenting Magazine. One of the few free zoos in the nation, the Zoo attracts 3, 000, 000 visitors each year.

About PGAV Destinations 

PGAV Destinations is a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations. Now in its fifth decade, the practice has evolved to become the ideal destination-consulting partner, skilled at developing growth-oriented master plans and translating those plans into successful projects. No other firm offers such an integrated approach to destination planning. 

PGAV’s key clients include industry leaders such as Delaware North, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the Biltmore Companies, Bass Pro Shops, Ameristar Casinos, Universal Studios, The Gettysburg Foundation, Niagara Parks Commission, the Saint Louis Zoo, and many others. Recent assignments include planning and design at many of the world’s “must see” destinations, including the Grand Canyon, Biltmore Estate, Kennedy Space Center, Hearst Castle, the Georgia Aquarium, the Hoover Dam, and SeaWorld Adventure Parks.

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