John Ball Zoo - African Lion Exhibit

Grand Rapids, Michigan



Features: - This 2,000 SF holding Building for containing and feeding the animals includes a Precast Building with a Green Roof and a decorative shotcrete wall facing the interior of the exhibit to conceal the building as though it was part of the natural landscape. There are six holding dens for the lions that consist of radiant heated floors, skylights, drinkers, and feeder shoots and steel resting benches that can be folded up within the den for the animals comfort. Each den has a guillotine door system controlled by the keepers from the corridor allowing the animals to move amongst each den, the exterior yard attached to the building, and inside of the exhibit. - There are two heated “rocks” and a climbing “tree” that have been strategically placed to lure the animals in front of the visitors. Structural shotcrete was used to create the structures large enough for the Lions to climb on and rest. Radiant heat is used to entice the animals to the faux rocks and trees. One of the rocks is placed so that the Boma Building Glass appears to sit on top of the rock with part of the rock being inside of the Boma Building. This section of the rock will be used to show the visitors why the animals choose to perch on the rock. The tree was placed in close proximity to the Boma Buildings so the animals will be visible to the public. Radiant heat is ran into the lower two branches and the trunk for the animals comfort. All of these items were designed in the field. The Owners worked closely with the construction team to mark the tree and rocks appear natural. - Two Boma Buildings perch on top of the Zoo’s landscape for visitors to view the exhibit. Construction materials consists of cast in place concrete, steel roof frame, synthetic roof thatch, reed board ceilings, 2”, 6”, and 8” wood logs notched around the steel frame giving it an African hut feel. There is a 1 5/8” thick laminated glass panel installed between the animals and the exhibit. Each piece of glass weighs over 900 pounds and required ten workers to set the glass. - A viewing platform is installed 20’ above the exhibit for visitors to get a bird’s eye view of the exhibit. Underneath the platform there is a vault for the mechanical equipment and a training room for the keepers.


  • Title: John ball zoo - african lion exhibit
  • Location: Grand rapids, michigan
  • Postal code: 49504
  • Phase: Complete
  • Budget: $2.95 million
  • Size: 3000.0

Project Identification Number:


Status: Completed


  • municipal
  • commercial


Worked on this project?

Add it to your portfolio