Sedgwick County Zoo Elephant Exhibit
Did you know that an elephant can lift a manhole lid? 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.
“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 ensure that everything was elephant proof,” said Matt Billingslea, PEC Civil Engineer/Project Manager, “It amazed me to learn what an elephant can do.”
More than five acres of outdoor and indoor space transformed into the new Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley exhibit. The exhibit opened during the 2016 Memorial Day weekend and is now home to a parade of seven elephants from Swaziland.
When dealing with live animals, there is little to no room for error. PEC and GLMV joined forces to ensure functionality and performance of the exhibit.
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. A “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 boring, especially at PEC.