Sunday, March 24, 2013

El Paso Zoo Master Plan: New Species, Exhibits, & Amenities

Site plan showing planned improvements to the El Paso Zoo. (City of El Paso)

The El Paso City Council will review the newest master plan for the El Paso Zoo at its March 26, 2013, meeting which includes dozens of upgrades to the park on Paisano Drive. The improvements will be spread out over the next 15 years and will use various funding sources, including the bonds approved by voters in last November's election.


The Zoo's African area will include new exhibits as well as upgrades to existing facilities. A new Red River Hog exhibit will be located on the southern edge of the area, while an African Wild Dog exhibit will be on the northeastern edge.
The future River Hog exhibit coming to the El Paso Zoo. (City of El Paso)

A Crop Garden Exhibit area could house African Crested Porcupine and Radiated Tortoise. It will be located adjacent to the current Meerkat Yard. The exhibits are scheduled for completion in 2015.

Chihuahuan Desert

The northern half of the current Americas area will be completely replaced by a new Chihuahuan Desert Experience which will highlight the largely unseen wildlife of the El Paso region. A Ranch House will contain an array of insects and small animals while offering a view into the new Mexican Gray Wolf exhibit.

The planned Jaquar/Mountain Lion exhibit at the El Paso Zoo. (City of El Paso)
Further down the path, visitors will encounter a brand new Jaguar/Mountain Lion exhibit. Adjacent to this will be an Arroyo Experience complete with a flash flood that will rush down a slotted canyon and crash into a glass exhibit window in front of visitors. A large yard will show off a mix of species on the area's eastern side. The new Chihuahuan Desert area could open in 2018.

The Americas

Several new upgrades and species are planned for the southern section of The Americas area. Visitors will first notice a brand new Flamingo exhibit with an updated Spider Monkey exhibit adjacent to the southwest.
A flamingo exhibit is planned as part of a new master plan at the El Paso Zoo. (City of El Paso)

Three new exhibits will snuggle into the northwestern section of this area, including Giant Anteaters, Andean Bears, and Humboldt Penguins. The flamingos, anteaters, and penguins will be new species to the zoo.

Visitors to the El Paso Zoo will have a new penguin exhibit to experience in the coming years. (City of El Paso)

The Reptile House, Aviary, and South American Pavilion are all current structures that will also receive updates. The majority of the projects in The Americas area will be completed by 2022, though some could be ready as early as 2015.


This section of the Zoo will have the least amount of new items but still includes various upgrades. New to the Asia Area will be a new Asian Complex that will more than double the size of the current Forest Complex. This will include a new Komodo Dragon yard and other new species exhibits, including Langurs, Asian Small Clawed Otters, and Red Pandas. The new complex is scheduled for completion in 2023.
This concept image shows an addition to the Asian area at the El Paso Zoo. (City of El Paso)

Additional new species will include the Greater One Horned Asian Rhino and the Warty Pig. A carousel will also be a new addition to the area.

Americas Plaza

The Zoo's central space, Americas Plaza, will be considered a "hub" between the four surrounding Areas. The most notable addition to this space will be a Touch Tank where visitors can interact with Cownose Rays. This interactive exhibit is scheduled for completion in 2020.

Entry & Events Area

The current main entrance to the Zoo will not change, but several new additions will create an Entry/Events section. A new 300-seat amphitheater will present educational animal shows and will include shaded seating.
An open air theater could have live animal shows at the El Paso Zoo. (City of El Paso)

Nearby, a new Events Tent will be created that will hold 300 or more people. An adjoining Events Plaza, restrooms, and storage building will also be built. All projects in the Entry & Events Area are tentatively scheduled for completion in 2016.


"Shovel ready" projects will be constructed first, with more labor-intensive changes coming afterwards. The Zoo will try and premier "signature attractions" at two to three year intervals. The Master Plan shows projection completion by year in its Design & Construction Schedule section.

El Paso Zoo Master Plan (PDF):