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Houston Zoo Gorilla Exhibit

Houston, TX

W.S. Bellows Construction


After 11 years without a gorilla, the Houston Zoo debuted a 28 million dollar new gorilla exhibit on Memorial Day weekend. Opening with 7 gorillas, the exhibit features an indoor and outdoor habitat, 23 foot tall climbing trees, and expansive Ipe boardwalks and lookouts for the perfect panoramic viewing experience.


Brought in from other American Zoos, the seven gorillas fall into two different groups: the family group and the bachelor group. The bachelor group is represented by 3 male gorillas (Chaka, Mike, and Ajari) referred to as "blackbacks" because they have reached the age where they leave their family group and begin to travel with other male bachelors. The family group is made up of a mother and father (Holli and Zuri), their daughter (Sufi), and another female (Binti). Family groups are typically made up of one dominant male, several females, and their offspring.


The number of views you can take advantage of in this gorilla exhibit is amazing. Built primarily of ipe hardwood decking and timber logs, the viewing areas consists of long boardwalks, a glass viewing window, lookouts, and this panoramic gathering tent. Designed by The Portico Group and built by W.S. Bellows Construction, the Houston Zoo now has the largest gorilla exhibit in the world.

To source all the ipe decking needed for this project, WSB turned to our international importer, Overseas Hardwoods Company, who brought in 3 shipping containers worth of ipe for the boardwalks and lookouts.


One of the longest ipe boardwalks in the United States, the builders used 4 inch, 6 inch, and 8 inch wide deck boards to create a unique pattern. For posts, wood logs were used to tie in with the natural landscape. The boardwalk takes you in and out of the exhibit while connecting the lookouts, gathering tent, and meeting space. By using ipe, this boardwalk will last for decades to come, easily accommodating foot traffic from the 2 million yearly visitors to the zoo. Views of the gorillas can be seen along the boardwalk as well as lookout points.


The Houston Zoo and gorilla exhibit are open year round and free for Zoo Club Members. For more information on all the exhibits at the zoo visit houstonzoo.org. To see more pictures of the gorillas and their new habitat visit houstonzoo.org/gorillas.

Posted by Ben Roberts

Based in Austin, TX, Ben is all things marketing at TimberTown. When he's not posting, designing, or planning he's enjoying the outside with his wife and recently-adopted daughter.
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