Zoo Knoxville Honored with National Award for Exhibit Design

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Zoo Knoxville Honored with National Award for Exhibit Design

Posted: 09/24/2019
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that Zoo Knoxville has been recognized with AZA’s 2019 Exhibit Design Award for its significant achievement in creating the Boyd Family Asian Trek exhibit. Zoo Knoxville received this national award during AZA’s September conference in New Orleans. 

“This award congratulates Zoo Knoxville for significant achievement in designing a naturalistic, engaging habitat that provides high-quality animal care and welfare as well as meaningful guest experiences,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “Boyd Family Asian Trek goes above and beyond AZA’s rigorous standards for animal management, safety, conservation, and education, and should be considered a model for others.”

Association of Zoos & Aquariums Exhibit Award at Zoo Knoxville from Zoo Knoxville on Vimeo.


With its annual Exhibit Award, AZA recognizes excellence by an AZA-accredited facility (US or international) or certified related facility member in the areas of exhibit design and providing visitors with the opportunity to engage in observing and learning about the animals.

Boyd Family Asian Trek’s four-acre campus is Zoo Knoxville’s largest, most interactive and immersive project to date. Completed in March, 2018, Asian Trek features Tiger Forest, Gibbon Trails, and Langur Landing.  These state-of-the-art habitats showcase Malayan tigers, white-naped cranes, white-handed gibbons, and silvered leaf langurs. It also received the distinction of being voted one of the top 10 animal exhibits in the country by USA TODAY 10Best Reader’s Choice travel awards in 2018.

Asian Trek is the first exhibit built as part of Zoo Knoxville’s master plan to create new, modern habitats utilizing best practices to provide the highest level of animal care.  Asian Trek was designed to educate and inspire guests while serving as an important breeding facility for these endangered species.  Key features of Asian Trek’s Tiger Forest are the towering Shieh Family Pagoda and the Tiger Temple, which offers guests dramatic indoor and outdoor views of the tigers.  Gibbon Trails and Langur Landing created a 360-degree aerial experience that includes a swinging suspension bridge and three story tree house with multiple viewing levels overlooking aerial tunnels that allow the primates to pass directly over the heads of zoo visitors.

“Boyd Family Asian Trek is unlike anything Zoo Knoxville has done before. It sets a new standard, designed as a key breeding center for critically endangered Malayan tigers with a focus on the health and wellness of animals while inviting our guests to interact and engage in an immersive experience. Asian Trek also sets the stage for a different kind of programming, allowing our guests to witness animals using their habitats in complex and meaningful ways”, says Lisa New, Zoo President and CEO.   “Asian Trek embodies our commitment to the transformative evolution of the zoo as a community treasure combined with our vision to grow as the regional destination. Most importantly, with Zoo Knoxville’s completion of Asian Trek, we are fulfilling our mission - saving animals from extinction.”

Asian Trek was built in collaboration with Species Survival Plans for Malayan tigers, white-handed gibbons, silvered leaf langurs, and white naped cranes; and University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

Construction partners were Blaine Construction, CLR Design, Gecko Group, Johnson Architecture, and Partners Development.

To learn more about AZA’s Honors and Awards, please visit https://www.aza.org/honors-awards