San Antonio Zoo and PGAV Destinations, a company focused upon the planning and design of unique destinations, unveiled a new entrance as the first phase of a long-term master plan and $200 million vision for the next decade. The more immersive, intuitive, accessible, and efficient entry design began in the summer of 2021 and is projected to open mid-2023.
The new entry plaza — Zoo Celebración — celebrates the city and culture of San Antonio. Future enhancements include murals and artwork by Alamo City-based artists. The new, mercado style entry plaza comprises approximately 1.5 acres with a new entry building, food service, rentals and restrooms for an improved guest experience. Electronic ticketing kiosks and a designated group entrance aim to reduce lines and wait times.
“In a collaborative effort with the zoo team, we have completely reimagined the entrance of the zoo, creating an inviting and exciting sense of arrival for the guests. Not only are we bringing better functionality to the entry, but we are also celebrating the people and culture of San Antonio and the animals who live throughout the zoo,” PGAV Destinations Project Architect, Andrew Schumacher stated. “Additionally, this new vision for the entry will equip the zoo for continued future growth.”
Festooned with color, the plaza’s architecture will be influenced by the many historic styles of San Antonio. Open air event spaces overlook the plaza as does a tower that rises above it all and engages with sculpted butterflies. The historic Monkey House, formerly used as a back-of-house space by animal ambassador staff, is being repurposed for guest services including café, restrooms and stroller rentals. Special consideration was given to preserve its historic character by following guidelines set by the San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation.
“The current entrance was built in the 1950s, and it is long overdue for a makeover. Our goal is to create a sense of awe and wonder when our guests arrive, welcome them efficiently, and make a statement that this is San Antonio,” said San Antonio Zoo president and CEO Tim Morrow.