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BUILDING BLOCKS: Arctic Passage at Henry Vilas Zoo

By: Dan Shaw, [email protected]//August 13, 2014//

BUILDING BLOCKS: Arctic Passage at Henry Vilas Zoo

By: Dan Shaw, [email protected]//August 13, 2014//

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(Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)
(Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Project: Artic Passage at Henry Vilas Zoo

Address: 702 S. Randall Ave., Madison

Cost: $9.4 million

Size: 1.7 acres

Start date: March

Estimated completion date: April

Owner: Henry Vilas Zoo

Lead contractor: J.P. Cullen & Sons Inc., Janesville

Lead architect/engineer: WDM Architects PA, Wichita, Kan.

Number of workers employed: about 100 throughout the project

Project challenges: Working around old, underground utility lines is a challenge, as is working around zoo visitors and animals while not disrupting programs and events.

Significance to the region: The Arctic Passage is the biggest renovation the Henry Vilas Zoo has undertaken. The project will give guests with the zoo’s first indoor restaurant and new exhibits for bears and seals. The bear grottoes were last improved in 1980 and no longer meet modern standards.

Points of interest: The Arctic Passage will simulate the habitats of the various animals on exhibit. The polar bears will live in an environment resembling the Artic. The harbor seals exhibit will resemble the Pacific Ocean. The grizzly bears will live in an area representing the western part of the United State and Canada. The exhibit will help zoo personnel teach guests about the difficulties animals face in the wild.


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