North American River Otter Exhibit


Client: Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Garden

Location: Sanford, FL

Cost: $231,000

Size: 1,540 SF


Borrelli + Partners, Inc. was commissioned for the design and construction administration of the recently opened North American River Otter Exhibit at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Sanford, FL. River otters can be found in almost any river, lake, stream, swamp, marsh, or estuary ecosystem in North America and are equally at home in the water and on land. They make their home in a burrow featuring numerous tunnels, one of them allowing the otters to come and go from the water.

We worked closely with the zoo staff to ensure proper USDA caging requirements, animal holding safety criteria and AZA standards were implemented into the design. The exhibit is adorned with high-quality rockwork as mud banks (complete with roots and branches), turf and plantings. The 1,540 square foot exhibit includes a stream with underwater viewing windows and two separate viewing areas with glassed window.

The underwater viewing is quickly becoming a favorite visitor viewing spot. The steeped artificial water bodies within a berm allow a convenient underwater viewing without a subterranean visitor pathway, while emphasizing the importance of water in the lives of the otters. Natural stones within the streams create movement with a big log where the otters can slink under, providing a place to play, strengthening family ties on all ages and to develop hunting skills for the young otters.

The exhibit also includes three back of house holding pens and an off-exhibit holding area with a pool.

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