TULSA - The Tulsa Zoo announced plans Monday to break ground on an exhibit featuring rhinoceroses.
The Mary K. Chapman Rhinoceros Exhibit is the first project in a 20-year Master Plan and construction will begin Thursday with a groundbreaking ceremony.
Zoo officials say the new exhibit will offer guests immersive features, including up-close viewing into the rhinoceroses' indoor environment through a 20-foot-wide glass viewing window.
The new $3.1 million exhibit, designed by ONE Architecture, is replacing a 38-year-old facility that currently houses the zoo's white rhinceroses, Jeannie and Buzbie, with a three-acre yard and an 8,925 square foot barn facility.
The Mary K. Chapman Rhinoceros Exhibit will be located in the African Plains area of the zoo, across from the giraffe exhibit.
"We're pleased to expand the African Plains area of the zoo with the Mary K. Chapman Rhinoceros Exhibit, a joint project between the City of Tulsa and Tulsa Zoo Management, Inc.," said Terrie Correll, CEO of Tulsa Zoo Management, Inc. "This new habitat will feature not only our white rhinos, but also other African species, such as antelope and zebra upon completion. It will provide a quality guest experience for learning about rhinos, as well as a state of the art animal facility.
The exhibit will also offer the Tulsa Zoo the opportunity to add more rhinos with the hopes of one day participating in breeding programs. There are currently only 190 white rhinoceroses in North American accredited AZA institutions, while only 20,000 remain in the wild.
The Mary K. Chapman Rhinoceros Exhibit was funded through a public-private partnership between the city of Tulsa and Tulsa Zoo Management, Inc. and with the support of private donors.
The zoo will showcase a model of the exhibit at Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony. City officials, including Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, zoo staff and private donors are expected to attend the ceremony.