As soon as guests walk through the gates to the plaza, they will be greeted by animals and beautiful plant life. This is an area where peaceful views are combined with playful encounters. The plaza will also act as a central hub, allowing easy access to giraffes, tigers, spider monkeys and the original Zoo.
“We wanted to create an experience that felt intimate and peaceful but also had many touchpoints and interactive areas,” President & CEO John Chapo said. As soon as guests pass through the gates there will be small areas within the paths where they will find animals as well as flowers, plants and trees. The red pandas will move from their current home in the Zoo to play a more prominent interactive role on the plaza. A new 360 degree view allows the red pandas to meander from habitat to habitat right above guests walking along a path. “Red pandas are one of our guests’ favorite animals and their new home will be special as well as incredibly fun,” said Chapo.
Across from the red panda habitat will be the start of Zoo’s new stream. This water feature will create a tranquil ambiance for the plaza as well as provide a fun, interactive area for children. The shallow stream will be about an inch deep and have openings where children can play and create. “Children love interactive water areas and the stream provides a natural setting to explore and learn,” Chapo said.
At the end point of the stream will be a beautiful sandhill cranes art piece created by Lincoln’s own Cliff Hollestelle. The sculpture features the iconic sandhill cranes flying through Nebraska prairie grass and surrounded by vegetation and water. “We are very proud to have such an amazing piece of local artwork located centrally in the Zoo,” Chapo said.
The plaza includes an information area where animal show times and other happenings at the Zoo will be displayed. It also includes a map and provide a central location where guests can easily travel to any part of the Zoo.