Dohmen Family Foundation Hippo Haven
Update – April 2020
Even though the Zoo is closed due to the health emergency, construction work for the Dohmen Family Foundation Hippo Haven can continue.
Exhibit Updates as of April 6, 2020
The exhibit is on schedule to be completed by mid-May, giving zookeepers about one month to acclimate hippos, Happy and Patti, to the new exhibit.
Construction crews are finishing installation of the filtration system equipment in the basement of the Pachyderm building (below the former outdoor Elephant Exhibit).
In the outside exhibit area, ongoing construction is taking place for the pool and surrounding rockwork. Installation of the pool’s viewing glass is progressing.
When complete, visitors will be able to go right up to the glass of a 60,000-gallon pool, similar to the way they can view the polar bear and harbor seals underwater now.
The exhibit entrance plaza, floor of the underwater viewing hall and surrounding curbs are being poured now. The facades on the walls of the entrance plaza are also being installed.
Exhibit Features & Fast Facts
The exhibit’s design increases the space for hippos both in and out of the water and offers them more choices throughout the day. It includes a beach area three times larger than the current space with different surfaces to give the hippos the choice of where they want to lie.
The pool includes varying depths of water, 7 feet at the deepest, with sloped rocks and ramps to give them different resting options. Choice is an important part of animal enrichment, which is the effort to draw out animals’ natural behaviors and meet their physical and psychological needs.
The intricate filtration system uses ozone to purify and clarify the water in the indoor and outdoor pools. This same system is used in the Otter Passage exhibit and offers a healthier environment for the hippos.
The water system saves money and is environmentally friendly. Previously, zookeepers had to empty the outdoor and indoor hippo pools at the end of each day, but the new exhibit filters and reuses the same water.
Hippo Haven will allow visitors to really see the hippos, instead of the tops of their heads. The outdoor exhibit will be open approximately April through October, as hippos can’t tolerate the cold.
There are very few exhibits of this caliber in the country. The ability for guests to view hippos underwater will add a huge “wow” factor to their Zoo experience!
Photos: March 30, 2020
Click on the thumbnails for larger photos and descriptions.
Updated Photos: April 9, 2020
All photos courtesy of JP Cullen
Video: Milwaukee County Zoo New Hippo Exhibit Animation