PGAV Destinations, a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations, is working with the Oklahoma City Zoo on Expedition Africa - the largest habitat expansion project to date in its 120-year history. Phase one of the African savannah region is underway on 14-acres in the heart of the Zoo creating a welcoming entry with an overlook of the new spacious savannah. The $25 million project is the culmination of years of planning and is scheduled to open Spring 2023.

This space will provide an expanded and more immersive habitat for giraffe, eland, okapi, ostrich, painted dog, cheetah, red river hog, and lemur, among several other species native to Africa. Expedition Africa features a new state-of-the-art giraffe barn that will offer indoor viewing areas year-round. An existing pachyderm habitat building, a historical and architectural treasure at the Zoo, will be renovated into a multipurpose event space, small animal habitat area, and children’s play zone, all overlooking the savanna.

Less than one tenth of 1 percent of all Americans will ever visit the African continent,” said Dr. Dwight Lawson, executive director/CEO for Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden. “Expedition Africa is designed to immerse visitors into a space where guests can connect with the wildlife of Africa in an unforgettable way and be inspired to help them thrive.”

The transformation of the pachyderm building - architecturally the most expressive mid-century modern style construction at the Zoo – has been an endeavor to preserve the iconic structure. Dexter Hansen, PGAV Destinations Architectural Designer, remarked: “Repurposing this historic building from a home for elephants and rhinos to a guest event space along with giraffe feeding, savannah viewing, small animal exhibits, and children’s play zone has kept the team creatively challenged. The design reimagines the spaces while retaining the features that will be nostalgic for long-time zoo goers.”

On the site, the design team worked to reuse and repurpose as much as possible, from the existing grades to site features. It was important to the Zoo to keep as many of the trees as possible, many of which are historical and award-winning. The site design minimizes tree removal, works outside of the tree canopies, and requires extensive tree protection to help in their survival. For any trees that had to be removed, the trunks and limbs will be placed in habitats as climbing structures and environmental enrichment devices for the animals.


About PGAV Destinations

PGAV Destinations is a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations. Now entering its sixth decade, the practice has evolved to become the ideal destination-consulting partner, skilled at developing growth-oriented master plans and translating those plans into successful projects. No other firm offers such an integrated approach to destination planning. PGAV Destinations’ key clients include industry leaders such as Delaware North Companies, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the Biltmore Companies, Bass Pro Shops, Ameristar Casinos, Universal Studios, The Gettysburg Foundation, the Saint Louis Zoo, and many others. Recent assignments include planning and design at many of the world’s “must see” destinations, including the Grand Canyon, Biltmore Estate, Space Shuttle Atlantis, The Alamo, National Air & Space Museum, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, the Georgia Aquarium, the Hoover Dam, and SeaWorld Adventure Parks.


About Oklahoma City Zoo

The Oklahoma City Zoo: Oklahoma's premier destination connecting people and our world's vanishing wildlife and wild places. The OKC Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Stay connected with the Zoo on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit