Houston Zoo Gorillas of the African Forest


The Houston Zoo

Houston Zoo Gorillas of the African Forest


Walter P Moore provided civil engineering for the new exhibit at the Houston Zoo. It is the largest gorilla exhibit in North America and is home to seven western lowland gorillas. Walter P Moore researched historic hydrologic characteristics of site and secured approvals to eliminate detention from the gorilla exhibit and other project sites at the zoo. This 2.5-acre site had approximately 20 feet of elevation change that required extensive grading. The site also included storm systems and a 20-foot deep sanitary lift station.

Gorillas can unscrew bolts so all connections in the exhibit had to be welded or feature countersunk bolts. Gorillas can also use any debris over 3/8-inch to scratch and potentially break windows, so all earthwork had to use smaller-size soil particles. Walter P Moore developed an atypical pavement section with the geotechnical engineer using crushed granite without limestone or lime to avoid any potential damage to the plants and trees from soil stabilization. The project required extensive coordination with the architect, Houston Zoo, and Houston Parks and Recreation Department.