KBK Brings Zoo’s Africa Exhibit to Life

During the pandemic, zoos have been a safe space to socialize and get some fresh air. And, of course, there’s always the allure of nature and wild animals.

If you had a chance to go to the Maryland Zoo recently, you may have been awed by its updated African Journey exhibit—feeling like you were right in the middle of all the action.

KBK Builders, LLC, an ABC member firm based in Glen Arm, Maryland, had a big hand in bringing the faraway experience of being in Africa to life in Charm City. Working as a subcontractor under Gilbane Building Company, another ABC member firm, KBK worked through various aspects and phases of the African Journey exhibit renovation which opened in 2019—the largest renovation ever to take place at the zoo in 143 years.

KBK Builders constructed all of the new pedestrian deck pathways, including the new 6,000 square foot Elephant Overlook observation deck. The observation area includes updated view rails that provide better support. Here, zoo guests have “many different views of the elephants engaging in natural behaviors such as dusting, bathing, and mud wallowing,” according to the zoo’s website.

The work also included adding resting areas and recessed displays along the exhibit for information plaques. Guests can have a full educational experience while viewing the wildlife

The renovation addressed the unique needs of the animals, zoo staff, and visitors. The end result: an improvement to the landscape, patron experience, and welfare of animals of the African Journey.

Through KBK’s work, the exhibit also offers visitors a shining example of local craftsmanship. For their work on the Maryland Zoo’s African Journey renovation, KBK Builders won a 2020 ABC Excellence in Construction Award in the Specialty-Carpentry category. There were many obstacles on this project, namely the constraints of the wet weather, dealing with the safety of the public as well as the welfare of the animals, staff and other contractors. KBK Builders handled them all with problem-solving resilience and a smile. Their work will be sure to make you smile, too.