Master Plan and Future Additions

The Columbian Park Zoo Master Plan presents an exciting vision for a cherished community attraction. This dynamic and creative plan will develop a cutting edge, interactive zoological education facility which will encourage exploratory learning. It will also impart a strong feeling of empathy toward all living things, while inspiring visitors to become environmental stewards.

To ensure that the new Zoo meets the leisure and educational needs of the community, citizens have played a critical role in the development of the Zoo Master Plan. Input was sought from people of all ages through a variety of focus groups, interviews, and public meetings. With nearly 1,000 citizens participating, the community expressed a resounding desire for a high quality zoo located in Columbian Park. Participants in this process included community leaders, zoo visitors, school groups, and the general public.

Construction began in September 2004 on Phase 1 of our master plan. The zoo was closed to the public for nearly three years and reopened June 30, 2007. Many of the animals remained on-site during this construction period.

Completion of Phase 1 brought new infrastructure (water, sewage, and electricity), administrative offices, restroom/gift shop building and a perimeter fence to expand our new site.

Phases 2 & 3 will add many new exhibits and experiences to Columbian Park Zoo. New additions so far include:
  • The Family Farm
  • Prairie dogs
  • Bald eagles
  • Barn owl exhibit
  • Walk-through butterfly exhibit
  • Butterfly sculpture garden
  • Wallaby Walkabout
  • New Guinea Singing Dogs
  • Galapagos tortoise 
  • North American river otters

The Bill and Donna DeFouw Education Center, including public restrooms and two themed classrooms, was also completed in July 2012. A train depot consisting of a visitor loading area and miniature train display was completed in April 2014.

Future exhibits include an Africa area, walk-through aviary, new primate exhibits, cat exhibits, a veterinary hospital, discovery center and carousel. The future construction of these exhibits is dependent on funding. We welcome large corporate sponsorships, but even families and individuals can make a difference by supporting our Friends of Columbian Park Zoo non-profit organization.

The Animal House will be converted into a Wildlife Discovery Center, providing many exciting hands-on exhibits and learning opportunities. Included in the center will be a walk-through rainforest exhibit, nocturnal animal exploration area, restrooms, and much more.

The health and well-being of the animals is a critical element. A new animal hospital will provide routine and emergency care for the Zoo’s animal collection. It is also a place of teaching and learning for wildlife science, biology, and veterinary students. Animal enclosures will be naturalized with appropriate landscaping, adding to the overall ambiance and naturalness of the zoo.

The carousel will return to Columbian Park, located adjacent to the Zoo. It will be under a protective building, available to all park visitors.

The Columbian Park Zoo Master Plan is much more than just a plan for a zoo. It allows the Zoo to become an even better community resource while enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of this great community.

Australia Aviary inside Walkabout
Family Farm exhibit entrance
River Otter exhibit with front viewing
View of Front entryway plaza area
Inside Wallaby Walkabout