Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Columbus Zoo Safari Africa expansion plans revealed

I just received my Summer 2012 copy of the Beastly Banner, the official Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Membership Magazine. As I was flipping through the pages (which is mostly a big advertisement for the zoo and the Wilds) I was very pleasantly surprised to the first official information from the zoo about much anticipated African savannah expansion!

Safari Africa is the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's most ambitious and expansive region to date. The entrance to the new region will be in the northeast corner of the current North America region. The Ohio State University's solar house which used to stand near the entrance to Polar Frontier (where the timber wolves used to be) has already been disassembled to make way for the entrance to the new area.

From the description given in the magazine and the computer rendering it looks like species we will find include: meerkat, lions, cheetahs, camels, monkeys, zebras, and giraffes. Lions, giraffes and zebras were long expected but seeing the cheetahs on the list is quite a surprise! I hope they build an area similar to Busch Gardens where the cats can show off their speed. Other highlights of the new region will be camel rides, a zipline, and giraffe feeding.

According to other sources, construction has already started to pick up and newly acquired animals intended for Safari Africa will be held at the Wilds until the new exhibit is ready in 2014.

Pictured below is our first look at an official rendering of Safari Africa.

 Click for a larger image.

This new region was previously rumored to have a train or boat ride plus the total land available is around 120 acres so I am optimistically hoping this is only phase one of the expansion and more will be added on in future additions. Either way, it sounds pretty cool - especially the zipline - and I am just glad to finally get some concrete details and information. 2014 can't come soon enough!

Update 6-18-12: Safari Africa plans officially approved!
Update: 7-28-13 Safari Africa construction update


  1. It sounds like a great expansion. I love big cats, but the current lion exhibit is a huge disappointment (the tigers are great, thought!). And cheetahs are an added bonus. My wife's favorite animal is the giraffe, so this exhibit hits both of our favorites.

  2. I agree Kevin! The current lion exhibit looks out of place compared to the tiger's quality enclosure.

  3. One must take into consideration that the current lion exhibit has been there far, far longer than the tiger exhibit ;)

    As far as the plans for Safari Africa go, I have to say that I'm disappointed and expected more from the zoo. This plan is just extremely lackluster in comparison to the older plans... It's very "ABC" and "inside of the box." Polar Frontier was amazing, Asia Quest was of high quality, as was Australia, but Safari Africa seems as if its going to be as cheesy as its name, with its run-of-the-mill African species and crowd drawing rides and attractions... It really seems as if Columbus is turning in an amusement park featuring animals instead of a zoo featuring a few rides... It's sad that it's come to be this way, and I truly had high hopes for this exhibit. With Columbus' available money I expected more. What happened to the hippos, baboons, rhinos, elephants, crocodiles, hyenas, wild dogs, flamingos, pelicans, kopje, and wet, dry, and wooded savannas featured in previous plans? In my opinion this plan, http://www.pjarchitects.com/Brochure/CZ_East_Africa_Plains.pdf , would have made a MUCH better exhibit. I guess we'll have to wait and see how the exhibit unfolds, but I am no longer all that hopeful...

  4. The original plans called for a railroad or boat ride through the region. I can see why they wouldn't want to recreate the Wilds experience but I was really expecting more.