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Alabama Wilds at the Birmingham Zoo

Birmingham, Alabama

Expert Advice to Bring an Entire State into One Corner of the Zoo

The Birmingham Zoo Alabama Wilds exhibit doesn’t feature the usual exotic wildlife common to zoos. Its residents are much closer to home. Visitors learn about conservation as they look at Alabama-native river otters, beavers, eagles, Sandhill cranes, bobcats, foxes, opossums, skunks, snakes, spiders, turtles and more. And they see the plants and animals in their natural environment — specifically, five different environments, representing the distinct regions of the state. HPM worked with the zoo and carefully qualified specialists to reproduce the Cumberland River (full of fish), the southern forest (full of eagles) and a replica of Red Mountain designed as a climbing wall (full of children who are full of energy), among many other habitats for many other creatures.

Building a Functioning Ecosystem in Five Easy Steps

Alabama Wilds brings all of the state’s native wildlife to the Birmingham Zoo — all of it. Environments range from the Highland Rim in the northwest corner of the state to the Coastal Plain over 300 miles south, by way of the Cumberland Plateau, the Valley and Ridge (where Birmingham sits) and the Piedmont. Representing all of those regions — including the plant life indigenous to each — required a diverse team of experts. Rather than reaching out to the first specialist they could find, HPM carefully pre-qualified each firm to assemble the best team possible and planned the design and construction process strategically to put each river, trail, aerie and hand-sculpted replica of Red Mountain where it needed to be. And special features like a storm water irrigation system and solar energy grid show that conservation and sustainability don’t stop at the zoo’s gate.

Project Details

$15 million, multi-phase project
Discovery trail footpath
Bald eagle exhibit
Wetlands area
River otter exhibit
Five distinct regional ecosystems


The Birmingham Zoo


Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio

HPM Services

Program Management
Construction Management