Roger Williams Park Zoo unveiled the 20-year Master Plan in 2015. With funding for Zoo improvements approved as part of the Clean Water, Open Space and Healthy Communities Bond passed by voters in 2014, the Zoo used the seed money to begin the first phase of the plan in late 2016.
The plan includes three $25-million phases, with each expected to take five to seven years to complete. Construction is underway for the first project of phase one: a new Rainforest exhibit. Once completed, visitors will experience rare and exciting creatures from the rainforests of South America including birds, primates, and reptiles in a spacious and sunlit structure.
The second project of phase one will focus on the construction of a new, larger education center near Zoo admissions, and the parking area to accommodate the growth of its very popular award-winning programs and camps. The current education building will undergo a major renovation and open to visitors as New England’s only reptile house. The purpose of this exhibit is to educate guests about some of the most endangered and beautiful reptiles and amphibians from around the world. Rounding out the first phase will be a new event pavilion beside the wetlands pond, near the admissions plaza.
The second phase will significantly improve features in the entry area of the Zoo with new admissions structures, a new gift shop, and several animal exhibits. The plan calls for new Humboldt penguin and California sea lion enclosures with pools and a shore bird aviary. The third and final phase focuses on the upper Zoo with construction of two new large primate exhibits, an outdoor play area and a new tiger habitat. A complete reworking of the North America exhibit area will feature big horn sheep, grizzly bear, and moose.
With the announcement of the master plan, which was developed with GLMV Architecture, the Society staff will initiate campaigns to raise the additional $10-million needed to complete the individual projects in phase one.