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Great Plains Zoo Breaks Ground on Brown Bear Exhibit

April 11, 2017

Construction is officially underway on the Great Plains Zoo’s Brown Bear exhibit renovation. Zoo officials, along with Mayor Mike Huether and Zoo supporters, broke ground today on the exhibit near the Zoo’s current Bear Canyon.
The $2.4 million project will renovate and expand one of the Zoo’s oldest and most popular exhibits to provide enhanced viewing and educational opportunities for the Zoo’s nearly 316,000 annual visitors. A new training demonstration window will give visitors the chance to view behavioral training that Zookeepers do every day with their animals.  With Bears, this includes allowing guests to see how Zookeepers get them to present a paw or open their mouth as part of a routine health exam, or to learn to give themselves a shot, with the animals effectively learning to participate in their own medical care.
A new Bear habitat-themed children’s play area will include a kids’ fort where children can get a bird’s-eye view of the exhibit. Signage and hands-on interactive elements will be created with science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) learning principles in mind. The project also includes a modern and efficient water filtration system that will reduce staff labor and cut utilities expenses, and more “bedrooms” for Bears, allowing the Zoo to care for up to four Brown Bears.
“This is a truly transformative exhibit renovation that will enhance the experience of visitors as well as allow our veterinarian and animal care team to provide optimal care for Brown Bears,” said Elizabeth A. Whealy, President and CEO. “Not only will the new exhibit be a must-see addition to our Zoo, it will allow us to educate our visitors about these magnificent animals in a fun and interactive way.”
The expanded Brown Bear exhibit is scheduled to open in the late spring of 2018.
The Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Visit the Zoo online at or call 605-367-7003 for more information about the Zoo and Museum.
The Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a greater understanding of our natural world through education, conservation, recreation and discovery. The Great Plains Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) – a leader in wildlife conservation. Less than 10% of animal institutions in the United States have met the high standards for AZA accreditation.

  • Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.

    Taylor F.
  • We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.

    Robin A.
  • Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.

    Stephanie N.
  • The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world. ¬†The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones. ¬†Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.

    Bill T.