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Did you know that an elephant can lift a manhole lid?

Featured Project Reed Family Elephants Sedgwick County Zoo 05
Now you do.

And if you didn’t, engineering a zoo habitat for a herd of elephants could be disastrous. Because elephants are some of the smartest creatures on the planet, smart engineering was essential for the new Elephant Exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo. More than five acres of outdoor and indoor space was transformed into the new Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley exhibit. The exhibit is home to a parade of seven elephants from Swaziland.

“I knew going into this project that it would be quite different than anything I’d done in the past. We had to use caution and assure that everything was elephant proof,” said Matt Billingslea, PEC’s Elephant Exhibit Project Manager, “It amazed me to learn what an elephant can do.”

When dealing with live animals, there is no room for error. PEC engineers had to design around a different kind of client and make sure it would function and perform as needed.

Over a span of two years, PEC designed an irrigation system, a pressure booster pump station to support the irrigation system and an exhibit storm water management system. PEC also made utility improvements and relocations to make the exhibit more efficient and sustainable.

The exhibit enclosure nicknamed the “King Kong Wall” was designed to keep the elephants inside the exhibit.

“I’m looking forward to taking my kids out to see the exhibit because this is probably the coolest thing I’ve worked on that they can really appreciate,” said Billinglea, “We spend so much time putting lines on paper that it’s nice to go out and see what we’ve designed and what was built based on the work we did,”

The Sedgwick County Zoo is a destination for people throughout the Midwest and one of the top tourist attractions in Kansas. When we get to design an exhibit as meaningful as this, it makes memories for tens of thousands of people.

Engineering isn’t always desk work and number crunching, especially at PEC.

PEC provided site civil engineering, utility improvements, stormwater management and materials testing for the project.

  • Zoo Habitat Design
  • Irrigation System
  • Utility Relocations
  • Sustainable Design
  • Booster Pump Station
  • Elephant-proof Wall