New Large Mammal Exhibit
New Large Mammal Exhibit at OC Zoo Now Open
May 2022 -- A new large mammal exhibit at the OC Zoo in Irvine Regional Park opened to the public May 13 and marked the debut of four new animals.
The new, 2-acre habitat represents the largest expansion project in the zoo’s history. It houses an adult mountain lion, three orphaned mountain lion cubs and an adult jaguar.
The expansion, part of the zoo’s 2013 General Development Plan, is made up of two separate areas that can be adjusted to create four separate display spaces, natural-looking rock walls, climbing platforms, a waterfall element and secure fencing to protect the public and minimize injury to the animals, in addition to a natural-looking bridge to increase potential animal viewing. The immersed landscape not only strives to recreate the appearance and sense of the animal’s natural environment, but also to improve visitor experience.
The design-build project cost approximately $9 million. OC Parks received grant funding in the amount of $1.9 million from California Department of Parks and Recreation to offset project costs. The grant is part of the Proposition 68, Parks, Environment, and Water Bond per capita grant program approved by voters in 2018.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2019 awarded the design-build contract to Rudolph & Sletten, Inc. and Jeff Katz Architecture, to provide design and construction services for the OC Zoo Large Mammal Exhibit Project. OC Parks, in collaboration with OC Public Works, used the Design Build Project delivery method for the new habitat. This presents a cost-effective alternative to the traditional design-bid-build process by allowing the designers and the contractors to work together throughout the process as well as reducing the overall project timeline for completion.
The first project outlined in the zoo’s General Development Plan, a new entry plaza and restroom building, opened in late 2019.
April 16, 2013 - The Board of Supervisors approved the General Development Plan (GDP) for the OC Zoo, including drainage improvements to minimize flooding, construction of a restroom, entrance enhancements, a new oak woodlands exhibit, new walkways and connectors and other features to enhance visitors’ experience at the OC Zoo.
October 8, 2019 - The Board of Supervisors approved a contract to build a new large mammal habitat. OC Parks, in collaboration with OC Public Works, is using the Design Build Project delivery method for the new habitat. This presents a cost-effective alternative to the traditional design-bid-build process by allowing the designers and the contractors to work together throughout the process as well as reducing the overall project timeline for completion.
December 2019 -- The first phase of planned improvements at the OC Zoo in Irvine Regional Park opened to the public. This included an interim entry plaza, restroom building, and an emergency power backup system with an innovative Tesla solar battery that will provide emergency power to selected vital areas of the OC Zoo in the event of a prolonged power failure.