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Glacier Run

PGAV Destinations

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PGAV Destinations, PGAV Destinations

Project Name

Glacier Run


1100 Trevilian Way


Project Status


Year Completed



104,544 sq. feet

Construction Cost



The Louisville Zoo


  • Civil Engineer: Skees Engineering
  • Landscape Architect: Rob Halpern
  • Structural Engineer: Rangaswamy & Associates
  • Lighting Designer: GRG Inc.
  • Construction Manager: Whittenberg Construction

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Project Description

Designed as an imaginary town on the edge of the arctic wilderness, Glacier Run is modeled after the real town of Churchill, Canada, known as the polar bear capital of the world, where humans and wildlife have learned to co-exist.

“Glacier Run is sure to delight and entertain, but also tells one of the most important environmental stories of our generation. This arctic-themed exhibit fundamentally advances a Zoo’s mission of ‘bettering the bond between people and our planet,’” Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak said. “The very nature of this exhibit’s design is based on the idea of humans learning to co-exist with wildlife.”

PGAV Destinations’ design features include an old mining quarry, now flooded with water, where the bears come to play, a fishery and warehouse dock for more bear play space, and a melting glacier, that has destroyed a road in the town, for extra bear play space. The exhibit offers spectacular views, captivating stories of the arctic and unique opportunities for close encounters with polar bears, as well as grizzly bears. Guests have the opportunity to interact with zookeepers, learn about current challenges to arctic environments and animals, and discover how incremental changes in human everyday activities and behaviors can make a difference for our planet and these magnificent species.

The design goals of Glacier Run also included opportunities to interpret important messages like climate change and habitat encroachment, and inspire visitors to increase their personal conservation efforts. The new exhibit allows its bears to explore two very different environments via a bridge that crosses over a main visitor pathway. Animal barriers are interwoven with guest spaces, increasing the sense of adventure and respect for the animals. The exhibit provides a great diversity of opportunities for visitors to engage with the animals, from sea lion presentations to bear training sessions to classroom space to dynamic viewing angles.

The attraction is on its way to increasing attendance at the Louisville Zoo to more than 890,000 visitors annually and creating a $33.6 million economic impact for the region.
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