Landscape Architects, Architects, Exhibit Design, Master Planning  

In 1995, MESA completed a comprehensive Master Plan for the redevelopment of the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens and served as the prime design consultant overseeing and developing final plans for the first phase of construction. The completed Master Plan is to be approximately 60 million dollars in construction cost with a first phase of approximately 23 million dollars.



Improvements completed include The Main Camp Safari Lodge. The building is one of the largest thatched structures in the United States with an authentic African thatch roof installed by 24 Zulu thatchers from South Africa. The structure is designed to provide the Zoo visitor with an authentic feeling of one of Africa’s finest Safari Lodges. In addition to providing an exciting new entrance for the Zoo, Main Camp also houses a new Gift Shop, Meeting Room, Board Room and a sheltered banquet room that will accommodate 500 persons.

The "Birds of the Rift Valley Aviary and Stream- bank Exhibit" converted an existing aviary into a walk -through experience offering viewing on a number of different levels from ground to elevated board walks where visitors can thrill at the discovery of the beautiful birds from the region around every turn.


The exhibit includes a 25 foot waterfall and a recirculating stream that was added to visually connect the exhibit with the waterways through out the Zoo. The exhibit also includes a breeding facility for the marabou stork as well as a pool for flamingos and an area for many other birds native to Africa’s Rift Valley.

The African Veldt exhibit includes Cheetah, Leopard, Lion, various hoof stock, African Elephants, Crocodile and other species. A boardwalk, winds around the perimeter of the veldt and provides numerous opportunities to view some of the fauna of Africa. The area is landscaped to recreate the appearance of the African Savannah.

Also included in the Phase 1 work were a new entry & parking area, the Zambezi Restaurant, a new education center, animal nursery, new elephant building, the Florida wetlands exhibit, a major primate great ape exhibit, and numerous other improvements. In addition a conceptual design was developed for many of the future exhibits including the Meso American Temple of a Jaguar Exhibit.