John Ball Zoo Amur Tiger Exhibit, Phase 1 opens June 14

June 06, 2014

(GRAND RAPIDS, MI) - On Saturday, May 31st the two new male Amur Tigers at John Ball Zoo were released into their new state-of-the-art habitat. Two males and one female, all newcomers to the zoo, had spent the previous two weeks getting acquainted with their new zookeepers. The tigers will spend the following two weeks getting used to their new habitat before the exhibit opens to the public on Saturday, June 14.

Located on the south end of the expanded IDEMA Forest Realm, this project is being built in two separate phases. O-A-K is the Construction Manager for the project.

PHASE 1
This phase is in the final week of completion and includes the main Tiger Habitat very similar to the tigers’ native forests found in eastern Russia. It also includes a holding/breeding facility, a rest area with bathrooms, concession stand and viewing areas for visitors. The holding/breeding facility makes John Ball Zoo eligible to participate in the Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP) and play a crucial role in propagation of the species and inspiring people to help save wild tigers. This phase opens officially to the public on June 14.

PHASE 2
Currently under construction, this portion of the project includes tiger trails and an additional flex habitat. Phase 2 is scheduled for completion in November 2014.  It will open to the public in the spring of 2015.

UNIQUE CONSTRUCTION FEATURES:

  • A massive concrete dig barrier is poured below the fence perimeter of habitat areas. The dig barrier is 4-feet-deep and 1-foot-thick. It prevents the tigers from digging out of the exhibit. In the main habitat alone, the dig barrier spans 375 linear feet.
  • The flex habitat (part of Phase 2) will have a two-inch thick laminated tempered glass barrier installed semi-under water. The feature will allow patrons to experience an up-close encounter with the tigers.
  • The creation of authentic-looking rocks (part of Phase 2), complete with waterfalls and ponds, is being built out of a reinforced shotcrete material. The concrete material is spray-applied to special forms built into the earth (pictured lower right).

A big “thank you” is due to the entire team for pushing this project forward with the highest quality and safety standards. Our O-A-K key team members include Chris Barnes, Project Superintendent and Troy Redman, Project Manager.