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Amazon River’s Edge

Caldwell Zoo | Tyler, TX
Project Details

Founded in 1953, the Caldwell Zoo connects visitors with more than 3,000 animals from 250 species to cultivate an appreciation for the natural world. A major remodeling project will transform the former South American region of the zoo into Amazon River’s Edge. The largest project in the zoo’s history involves collaboration between BKP, the Zoo Core Design Team, the general contractor, and subcontractors. Across 4.6 renovated acres, the design establishes new habitats for the jaguar, sloth, river otter, and capybara, along with birds and small primates. BKP conceptualized the environment into a zone for exploration where visitors can experience the animal habitats and learn about the Amazon River and rainforest ecosystems as they move through the newly constructed site.

The scope involves nine different buildings and enclosures. The education and events center incorporates part of the original otter habitat, the zoo’s very first exhibit. The gateway entry into Amazon River’s Edge begins with a bridge overlooking the new giant river otter habitat, traverses a walk-through aviary, pauses at an open plaza, and then continues into the enclosed habitats. The design incorporates view shelters that provide shade from the Texas sun, underwater viewing windows for nose-to-nose interactions with swimming otters, and a jaguar encounter where visitors can interact safely with the cats as they splash in their outdoor pool or walk overhead between their main and flexible habitats. The flexible habitat can change animal users several times a day, with different activities set up and controlled by staff. At each animal habitat within Amazon River’s Edge, visitors will experience zoo staff demonstrations as they cue animals to perform natural tasks and behaviors. The aesthetic presents a weathered appearance, using reclaimed wood and pre-weathered metal, to reflect the Amazon environment where salvage scraps and items transported into the region by boat are commonplace. The project is under construction with anticipated opening in summer 2024.

Media Coverage

‘Amazon River’s Edge’ to add vast array of animals to Caldwell Zoo’s South American section

  • Client

    Caldwell Zoo

  • Cost

    $25 million

  • Size

    4.6 acres

Renderings © BKP Architects