CLR Design

Evolutionary Thinking in Habitats


Planning Zoos for Generations

Every client has a vision; our job is to make it a reality.
We work with you to formulate a Comprehensive Master Plan
— a report that includes physical planning, policy planning
and business planning.

A clear vision and defined strategy result in smooth
implementation of both the project at hand, as well as the
facility’s future growth and sustainability.


Zoo. Logical.

We realize that our clients are the animal management experts, so our exhibit designs draw on that expertise as well as input from architects, landscape architects, botanists, biologists, zoologists, horticulturalists, animal behaviorists, educators and guest service professionals. The result? A safe, stimulating environment that satisfies the staff’s requirements and animals’ needs while providing the ultimate educational and fun experience for visitors.


Cheetah Conservation Fund

Namibia, Africa

The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is an internationally recognized research, education and conservation organization focusing on cheetahs and their eco-systems. The primary objective of the Facilities Master Plan Report prepared by CLR Design in 2006, was to provide a 5 to 10 year framework for how to develop and manage the CCF headquarters based in Namibia, Africa, in a sustainable and efficient manner while incorporating the vision and mission of the institution. The key objectives of the report also included: identifying short and long-term infrastructure priorities; defining key, mission-based projects; prioritizing eco-tourism concepts; and identifying education programming concepts.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Cincinnati, Ohio

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, a National Historic Landmark, is the second oldest zoo in America. CLR completed a Master Plan for this unique 75-acre site that respects its historical integrity while utilizing its diverse animal and plant collection to move it into the forefront of exhibit design and conservation efforts.

The Master Plan, allowing for a 10 to 20 year implementation schedule, addresses over a dozen major exhibits and visitor amenities. With the proposed relocation of all visitor parking to a newly acquired 14-acre tract of land, the Master Plan proposes a major new entry complex, improvements to existing circulation systems, and a dramatic increase in animal exhibit land use. In addition, and in fulfillment of the Zoo's commitment to conservation, initial concepts were developed for a 100-acre satellite Conservation and Breeding Center. In partnership with the vision and direction of the CLR-designed Master Plan, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is fulfilling its mission

Following the Master Plan

• Cheetah Encounter was designed through

   schematic and is currently on hold.

• The New Entry that CLR planned has been

   designed and built by a local architecture firm.

• The Education Center was designed by CLR
   with a local architect of record and opened
   in 2006.

Denver Zoological Gardens

Denver, Colorado

CLR and the Denver Zoo have worked together for over 15 years on master planning, exhibit design and visitor service amenities. This Millennium Facilities Master Plan includes projects ranging from large marquee species to small primates. All of the projects are carefully planned and organized to increase visitor membership and provide an exciting diversity of visitor experiences.

Over this 15-year period, the Denver Zoo has seen visitor attendance and membership increase from 750,000 to over 1.5 million visitors.

Following the Master Plan

• CLR provided full architectural design and

   construction contract administration services

   for the new AZA award-winning Entrance

   & Predator Ridge exhibit, opened in 2005.

• CLR recently completed design of the new

   Asian Tropics experience and is now overseeing

   construction of that project.

• In 2009, CLR began preliminary efforts to

   again update the Millennium Master Plan.

Dubai Zoo

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

CLR completed a Master Plan design for a new international zoo. This innovative project will showcase the flora, fauna and cultures of Asia, Arabia and Africa. Authentic-themed villages will anchor each continental grouping of biomes with realistically re-created wildlife habitats.

Additional highlights include: a separate Night Safari loosely modeled after Singapore’s night zoo concept; daytime driving safaris through open terrain and mixed animal habitats; and a swim experience with Dugongs, native to the Persian Gulf.

A priority of this project is to provide “state-of-the-art” animal holding facilities and naturalistic habitats with active, well-cared for animals, along with unique, comfortable visitor experiences and services.

Hershey Park's ZooAmerica

Hershey, Pennsylvania

CLR completed this master planning effort for the 11-acre ZooAmerica site working closely with Zoo staff as well as the adjacent theme park staff of Hershey Park. An early planning effort was to reaffirm the Zoo’s focus on North American species, improve the quality of life for the animals, improve the guest experience, and maximize the site for animal exhibits. The site presented a number of challenges including its relatively small size, steep topography, and a stream splitting the site. A further challenge included accommodating the significant volume of visitors generated from the adjacent theme park site. The final master plan clarified the circulation system, introduced a new neotropics thematic exhibit zone, included a new family adventure zone with amphitheater facilities, and upgraded existing North American woodland species exhibits — all within a very modest development budget.

International Crane Foundation

Baraboo, Wisconsin

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) is located on its 225-acre campus in Baraboo, Wisconsin. With crane/wetland habitat conservation programs worldwide, ICF desired a campus master plan that would complement its education and conservation mission. Goals of the plan included: enhancing the visitor experience through new exhibits and entry sequence and services; preserving and restoring in-situ ecosystems; and developing new crane habitats to exhibit all the crane species. ICF is home to all 15 crane species world-wide and maintains a captive crane population for breeding and reintroduction into the wild. Total estimate of campus improvements is $10M to $12M.

Following the Master Plan

• CLR provided concept design services for an
   African crane exhibit experience recently opened.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Jacksonville, Florida

CLR completed this Master Plan Update for the Jacksonville Zoo incorporating its current 89-acre site in addition to studying two additional parcels on the east and west sides of the zoo (an additional 35 acres). The plan created a new circulation system to accommodate the opening of the Range of the Jaguar Exhibit in 2004 as well as a long-range plan to accommodate four new major anchor exhibits: Kid's Zone, Manatee River, Monsoon Asia, and Hippo River.

The plan suggested realignment of the existing train to better serve exhibits and to provide an improved guest experience (ride). The plan also suggested improvements that opened the zoo site to the Trout River waterfront with wetland exhibits, nature walks, gardens, and waterfront activities. A series of short-term action plans were developed to improve the guest experience without requiring huge capital investments.

Following the Master Plan

• CLR provided full architectural design
   and construction contract administration

   services for the AZA award-winning

   Range of the Jaguar in 2004.

• CLR provided master planning services for

   Monsoon Asia, a new major anchor exhibit.

• CLR provided full architectural design and

   construction contract administration services

   for the new Komodo Dragon exhibit

   opened in 2009.

Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland

In July 2006, CLR completed the Master Plan study for the 135-acre Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Located in historic Druid Hill Park, about 5 miles from downtown Baltimore, the Maryland Zoo still retains some of the original WPA era historic architecture and site amenities. The Master Plan proposes significant improvements to the visitor parking, vehicular circulation, and pedestrian circulation systems, while still retaining the historic character of the Zoo. In addition to drastically improving the visitor flow and services, the Plan also proposes three major attraction projects: a Family Festival Farm Fair as part of the Children's Zoo, an Adventure Education and Administration Complex, and a major redevelopment and expansion of the African Elephant facilities and exhibits. With the Zoo redefining its mission to become leaders in elephant management, CLR has proposed several new concepts for elephant management including exercise trails, feeding encounters and demonstrations, and unique indoor and outdoor habitats.

Following the Master Plan

• CLR provided full architectural design and

   construction contract administration services

   for Elephant Barn Renovations, Giraffe

   Feeding Encounter, and African Aviary in 2008.

• CLR provided full architectural design and

   construction contract administration services for

   Prairie Dog Exhibit in 2009.

• CLR provided full architectural design and

   construction contract administration services

   for a Maryland Train Experience to open in 2010.

• CLR is currently working on Zoo Administration
   and Lower and Upper Valley design studies.

Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

Naples, Florida

CLR collaborated with the Naples Zoo to develop a 7 to 10-year master plan vision through implementation of six phases of development impacting all parts of the campus. Beautifully nestled in a historically rich botanical collection, the master plan identified a combination of new animal exhibits, visitor amenities, and service facilities. Improvements were designed to enhance the visitor experience, animal collection and the business plan.

A new entry is envisioned with exhibits and visitor services to enrich the experience and improve revenue. New animal shows will be added to enhance the show experience. A major new food venue will be centrally located catering to visitors and special community events. The master plan addressed an expansion of the zoo footprint to 45 acres including three major exhibit zones of Asia, Tropical Americas and Coastal Africa. In addition, a new major parking facility and service/support hub was developed.

Following the Master Plan

• In 2008, CLR provided concept design services

   for the New Entry and Black Bear Hammock.

Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

CLR was engaged by the Zoological Society of Philadelphia to prepare a Master Plan Update to guide development of the 43-acre Zoo for the next ten years. A critical phase of this planning incorporated significant accomplishments from the earlier CLR Master Plan with a series of refined goals and objectives. As part of this effort, four major projects were programmed and conceptually designed to work within the Master Plan context: a new carnivore project — Big Cat Falls; a new Children's Zoo; and a new Aviary project.

Working with a master plan committee at the Zoo, CLR developed plans and strategies to secure a vital future for the Zoo through physical improvements, guided by a recommitment to conservation, education, and recreation.

Toledo Zoological Gardens

Toledo, Ohio

CLR Design has worked with the Toledo Zoo on a continuing basis since the mid-1980's, on a wide variety of programming, master planning and exhibit design projects. The 1995 Toledo Zoo Master Plan entailed a major 30-acre expansion north of the existing 31-acre "historic" zoo. CLR worked closely with strategic business planning guidelines by developing a plan that incorporated: a totally new parking and visitor service entry complex, a new pedestrian bridge over Anthony Wayne Trail, new sites for off-exhibit animal conservation programs, new maintenance and support areas, a new African savanna exhibit, and a new Arctic Encounter exhibit featuring polar bears, seals, and wolves.

In 2003, CLR completed an update to the 1995 Master Plan. This current plan focuses on aggressively improving the "historic" zoo exhibit attractions, site circulation, and visitor service facilities, while still preserving the architectural integrity of the WPA era buildings and gardens. A few of the major redevelopment concepts include a new children's village, a new aquarium, a new education facility, and an expanded pachyderm trail exhibit sequence.

Following the Master Plan

• CLR provided full architectural design and

   construction contract administration services

   for the AZA award-winning Aviary in 2000.

• CLR provided full architectural design and

   construction contract administration services

   for Arctic Encounter in 2001.

• CLR provided full architectural design and

   construction contract administration services

   for African Savanna in 2003.

Utah's Hogle Zoo

Salt Lake City, Utah

CLR completed a comprehensive facility Master Plan for Utah’s Hogle Zoo in 1999 and was retained to update it in 2007.

Located in the foothills of the Wasatch mountain range, the Zoo's challenging topography required in- depth site analysis to determine the best development options for improving the visitor circulation system and maximizing land-use for animal habitats. Utah's new zoo plan aims to meet functional requirements for annual attendance cresting one million visitors, along with new facilities for animal health and new principles for exhibit and habitat design. The new Master Plan proposes a project implementation schedule that will maintain the momentum of development initiated by the 1999 plan and literally transform the Zoo over the next 10 to 15 years.

Following the Master Plan

• CLR provided full architectural design and

   construction contract administration services

   for Elephant Encounter exhibit, opened in 2005.

• The New Entry was designed by CLR with a

   local architect of record and opened in 2002.

• CLR is currently working on the design of

   Rocky Shores.

African Savanna

San Francisco Zoo, San Francisco, California


Develop a new, unique African Savanna Exhibit maximizing visibility of all animals and showcasing Giraffes.


Place a visitor-view island in the center of a 2-acre savanna habitat accessed by tunnels from each side to create “viewing-in-the-round.”

Giraffe, zebras, kudu, dik-dik, duiker, ostrich, and oryx roam the new three-acre, mixed-species African Savanna exhibit at the San Francisco Zoo. Visitors get great, close-up views from a central waterhole-viewing area where many of the animals gather frequently. In an adjacent, giraffe holding building, many behind-the-scenes zoo activities have been brought forward, allowing the visitor to witness how keepers care for the animals. Outside the building, visitors can watch — even participate — in giraffe feedings. Visitors entering the zoo, or simply shopping at the zoo gift shop, are pleasantly surprised to get a great view of a group of zebras in the distance followed by several curious ostrich.

Arctic Encounter

Toledo Zoological Gardens, Toledo, Ohio


Attract visitors to the zoo’s newly expanded site across the highway with an exhibit that showcases tundra and taiga animals and plants.


A dual habitat of water and ice where seals elude preying polar bears while visitors can enjoy these amazing animals in a comfortable, educational environment.

The 3.5-acre project includes polar bears and seals in a highly immersive, behaviorally enriched habitat. Almost 350,000 gallons of saltwater provide under-water and above-water viewing of these Arctic animals. An innovative exhibit configuration allows the visitor to view polar bears on an artificial ice shelf with the seals swimming safely below in a true predator/prey relationship. Exhibit features include a cooled ice cave for the bears, an ice shelf/blow hole area, a highly challenging polar bear habitat with a fishing stream, and a seal exhibit with an adjacent training area. Innovative animal management systems have been utilized including the ability to rotate bears and seals into each exhibit. The exhibit has proved to be a highly popular attraction for the zoo significantly increasing attendance.

Asian Forest Sanctuary

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma, Washington


Create an Asian zoogeographic experience showcasing tigers and small primates among other tropical forest species.


An immersive journey through Asian Tropical forest habitats that maximizes the potential for highly active animal experiences through five flexible rotation habitats.

The Asian Forest Sanctuary project consists of five outdoor habitats and one indoor dayroom set within a 3.8-acre sloping site adjacent to an existing elephant exhibit. The Sanctuary is based on the innovative, activity-based exhibit concept where animals move through multiple exhibits to explore, forage, interact and encourage species-specific behavior. This multi-exhibit concept also provides the visitor a unique experience with each visit. Asian animal species include tiger, tapir, anoa, siamang, gibbon, small-clawed otter and porcupine. Visitor amenities include the Jalalatunda Bathing Place (a themed, exhibit vantage point based on historic ruins found in Indonesia), viewing huts, meandering trails, and an indoor interpretive area that overlooks several exhibits including the dayroom.

Elephant Encounter

Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Salt Lake City, Utah


Provide a new and expanded home for the zoo’s existing pachyderm collection with a budget of $5M.


A smartly renovated barn and three unique habitats that encourage and highlight natural elephant behavior.

Built in 2005, the exhibit is a new home to both elephants and rhinos. The project included renovating the holding building, creating three new outdoor spaces for the animals, one of which features a 120,000-gallon swim channel with viewing from an African-themed lodge, and a kopje rock with nose-to-nose viewing of both rhinos and elephants. The largest animal exhibit space is nestled into a bowl-shaped area surrounded by mature trees. The elephants can swim and drink from a waterhole, forage from feeding stations and socialize with other elephants. Visitors enjoy many different viewing opportunities into the animal spaces from paths, decks and the African Lodge. Adjacent to the Lodge is a demonstration space where the keepers have an opportunity to interact with the animals and the public.

Entrance & Predator Ridge

Denver Zoological Gardens, Denver, Colorado


Replace the zoo’s aged, uninviting entry gateway and provide a new home for all staff offices and departments.


A dynamic, open office working environment for staff and a friendly and easy gateway experience for guests leading to an up front major animal exhibit.

Two new timber-framed entry structures containing administrative offices, guest services and retail flank a new entry plaza with ticketing. The complex, themed as Savanna gaming trails, leads visitors from the entry drop-off, through the plaza past sculptures of life-size giraffes and klipspringers, to up-close exhibits showcasing the Samburu region of Africa. The Samburu theme carries through to Predator Ridge, a wonderful panorama of a simulated African savanna that unfolds just through the Zoo gateway, showcasing a pride of lions, cape hunting dogs and hyenas. A new, interpretive center allows for nose-to-nose viewing while learning about the biology and conservation of these species. Animal care and management facilities include an 8,000 SF holding building, training and management zones, and an isolation and birthing suite. Innovative keeper care/activity stations include two "behind the scenes" stations and an artificial termite mound where keepers can interact with the animals.

Gorilla Forest

Louisville Zoological Garden, Louisville, Kentucky


Develop a new Tropical Africa Exhibit showcasing Gorillas and Pygmy Hippos.


Integrate indoor ‘in the round’ viewing of Gorillas and underwater viewing of Pygmy Hippos with an immersive forest viewing trail along outdoor habitats, and new gift and restroom visitor amenities.

The project was designed with the special animal husbandry requirements of bachelor troop of gorillas in mind. A “gorilla-in-the-round” dayroom concept allows the visitor to be immersed in the viewing experience and allows single males as well as family groups to see each other, interact with each other, or be isolated from each other. Two outdoor habitats provide a natural setting for the animals; one habitat is observed from a tree-top researcher’s camp structure and the other habitat is viewed with pygmy hippos in the foreground. A discovery trail traverses a hillside providing interpretive exhibits as well as exciting views of the gorillas and hippos from a forest setting. The themed animal sanctuary concept includes holding and viewing structures for both gorillas and pygmy hippos, underwater viewing of the hippos, a restroom building and a gift shop

Harold C. Schott Education Center

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Cincinnati, Ohio


Provide a new education center to house the education staff, zoo program classes, public school academy students, and support space for outreach animal programs.


A lively, sustainable world for learning and playing that integrates animals, plants, children and educators.

CLR planned and designed an innovative, state-of-the-art education facility that combines traditional classroom learning labs with an untraditional living laboratory — a tropical forest conservatory with treehouse classrooms, animal exhibits, and botanical displays. The facility is also a community showcase containing the Cincinnati Public School's Zoo Academy and a 250-seat auditorium used for public lectures, presentations, and after-hours events. This dynamic facility exemplifies the Zoo's "walking the talk" of their core mission of education and conservation. Sustainably-designed, the project looked intensively at reducing consumption and creating a light "ecological footprint.” One of the prominent "green design" features is a large, roof-mounted solar panel array capable of handling up to 15% of the building’s electrical needs. The Education Center has been awarded LEED Silver certification.

Northern Trail

Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington


Create a best-in-class immersive Taiga/Tundra flora and fauna exhibit experience showcasing the grizzly bear.


Collaborating with an in-house zoo naturalist, a comprehensive team of clients and exceptional construction craftspeople, CLR created a habitat immersion and realism exhibit like no other.

The award-winning Northern Trail exhibit is an extraordinary six-acre setting for the display and management of ten central Alaskan animal species. The exhibit is designed to permit visitors to witness natural animal behaviors, such as brown bears plunging for trout in a meltwater stream inches from view. These animals are viewed within the context of their natural habitat, reproduced through the careful selection of plant species representative of the region. Northern Trail also features the Taiga Interpretive Center that is nested under the exhibit and entered through a simulated avalanche landscape, and the Tundra Center which resembles a sod-covered native Alaskan lodge and features a 70-foot curved mural depicting four seasons of the tundra.

Range of the Jaguar

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Jacksonville, Florida


Create a Central and South American exhibit sequence anchored by a superb collection of jaguars.


A diversified indoor/outdoor ecological and cultural transect through the Americas that highlights jaguars and features a revenue-generating village hub.

This four-acre, Central and South American exhibit includes a wide variety of species from the jaguar's natural habitat throughout the Americas. A large breeding collection of jaguars is seen in two natural habitats, one of which has an underwater viewing pool. A pre-Columbian temple ruin creates the habitats’ backdrop and provides an air-conditioned setting to view the wide diversity of smaller reptilian and amphibian life from the neo-tropics. Giant anteater, capybara, tapirs and four species of monkeys can be viewed in two rotation exhibits. A large walk-thru aviary, the Emerald Forest, provides an immersive experience to view birds, small primates, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Harpy eagles, king vultures and giant river otters are viewed in their own habitats within the aviary. Themed Spanish Colonial café/bistro, gift shop and restroom buildings complete this exciting addition to the Jacksonville Zoo.

The Birdhouse at Riverbanks

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Columbia, South Carolina


Replace a prominent and beloved bird collection and penguin display with exhibits that can handle the zoo’s increasing attendance.


Emphasize quality, not quantity, by designing a ”knock your socks off” Penguin exhibit and brightly day–lit highly realistic indoor bird exhibits.

CLR designed this lushly planted, sky-lit gem box as an engaging, naturalistic and interactive showcase to replace the highly popular “Birdhouse” at Riverbanks. The new entry plaza features lemurs and flamingos. Exhibits include African and rockhopper penguins in a naturalistic recreation of the skeletal coast of southern Africa with underwater viewing and wave machine. Asian tropical exhibits are accented with lush plantings, Asian-themed hut structures housing keeper service, water courses, murals and an artificial hornbill nesting tree. The public spaces also feature Conservation Crossroads, an interactive themed Asian village with interpretive kiosks and a donor machine that contributes to zoo conservation projects. A themed safari tent transports visitors to another interpretive viewing area at the African and South American Savannah exhibits complete with all the furnishings needed for a day or night on the Savannah.

Tundra Trek

Toronto Zoo, Scarborough, Ontario


Design a state-of-the-art home for the existing polar bears and the many tundra and taiga species currently exhibited in a different portion of the zoo.


The native 23-acre taiga landscape was utilized creating panorama vistas to view the wolf and bear habitats.
Tundra Trek brings together polar bear, Arctic wolf, Arctic fox, snowy owl and reindeer into a dynamic exhibit representative of the Canadian tundra. The project, 8.5-acres in total, includes a 28,300SF polar bear exhibit expansion, and a new state-of-the-art holding and breeding facility for up to six bears. The Arctic wolf exhibit, at almost 43,000SF, is one of the largest of its kind and integrates a sophisticated management system to handle the complexities of a large wolf pack. The exhibit entry hub and Tembo Terrace restaurant overlooks the wolves and immerses visitors in an interactive arctic journey that includes a full-sized whale skeleton, an underwater viewing experience that simulates the frozen arctic waters, a tundra wildflower walk, and a fox tunnel maze for kids.

Watani Grasslands Reserve

North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, North Carolina


Expand the elephant habitat, create a new elephant barn management facility, and convert the old pachyderm barn for exclusive rhino-management use.


An immersive visitor trail on the edge of an expansive, panoramic African savanna featuring over 6 acres of habitat space, a new elephant swim hole, and up-close encounters.

The existing 2.8-acre rhino exhibit was transformed into a new elephant exhibit including a demonstration area and swim channel pool. This exhibit allows for multiple-family group management with an elephant trail loop connecting the exhibits to a new 11,500 SF holding barn. The rhinos were relocated into the existing 37-acre hoofstock plains exhibit further enriching the multi-species collection. A new immersion walkway was added between the elephant exhibit and rhino/hoofstock exhibit that allows visitors a 300+ degree panoramic view. The project allows the zoo to manage a larger collection for both species. The interpretive overlay portrays the story of eco-tourism and conservation programs illustrating the zoo’s partnership with the World Wildlife Fund program in Cameroon.