There are more than 200 zoos and aquariums, and more than 400 amusement parks across the country that millions of people enjoy visiting each year. For some it’s the opportunity to pet an exotic animal and for others it’s escaping to an adrenaline filled fantasy land.
Whatever encourages someone to visit a zoo, aquarium or amusement park, the experience needs to be exciting and authentic. In recent years, to bring realistic animal habitats to life and build seemingly unimaginable park rides, contractors have turned to advanced formula pre-blended stuccos. The ease-of-use, workability and long-term durability of advanced formula pre-blended stuccos provide contractors with the flexibility to deliver trademark features and exhibits at zoos, aquariums and amusement parks of all sizes.
The cohesive and non-sag characteristics of advanced formula pre-blended stuccos allow the material to be sculpted for extended periods of time. In addition, advanced formula pre-blended stuccos can be pumped long distances on jobsites without clogging, bleeding and segregation. Fibers and water retention admixtures are also often included in advanced formula pre-blended stuccos to help prevent shrinkage cracking in the face of hot, dry and windy weather during the installation process.
A specialist in the design, fabrication and installation of artificial and themed environments using sculptable building materials, Cemrock Landscape, Inc. has turned to advanced formula pre-blended stuccos for some of its most impressive projects over the years.
Audubon Zoo – New Orleans
Opened in 1914 as part of the Audubon Nature Institute, the Audubon Zoo is the 58-acre home to more than 200 animals from across the world. The signature entrance features several life-like elephants and hippos playing on boulders in a large fountain.
One of the country’s top wildlife entertainment destinations, the Audubon Zoo upgraded the fountain by replacing the old fiberglass elephants and hippos with bronze versions as well as adding several bronze lions.
QUIKRETE Base Coat Stucco – Pump Grade was used to create the lifelike boulders. After removing the old boulders, Cemrock pneumatically applied 20,000 lbs. of stucco over a wire-mesh frame. Before the material hardened, it was shaped and sculpted by hand.
Once the material cured, it was stained and colored. By taking these refined and artistic steps, the boulders mimic those found in the Serengeti or the other natural habitats of elephants, hippos and lions.
LEGOLAND Florida is a 150-acre, full-day theme park in central Florida featuring more than 50 family rides, shows, restaurants, shops, botanical gardens and other attractions. One of five LEGOLAND Parks in the world, LEGOLAND Florida added the LEGO World of Chima interactive water ride using 168,000 lbs. of QUIKRETE Base Coat Stucco – Pump Grade in its construction.
Cemrock chose the stucco because it was easily sculpted and molded on mesh frames to create realistic stalactites and rocks along the powerful, cavernous water ride. In addition, Cemrock found the stucco to pump exceptionally well so work could be done quickly and efficiently on schedule. Families visiting the park now enjoy a trip through the cartoon World of Chima armed with water cannons in an epic adventure to help the hero, Laval the Lion Prince defeat Cragger the Crocodile King in his quest to find the mystical energy source, CHI.
“The stucco adhered well to the armature and was easily molded so the exhibit really looks like a natural habitat,” says Thomas O’Keefe, project superintendent for Cemrock. “In addition, by spray applying the materials we were able to work quickly and efficiently while minimizing waste and rework.”
SeaWorld San Antonio Pacific Point Preserve
SeaWorld San Antonio Pacific Point Preserve was designed to teach guests about sea lions, harbor seals and Asian small-clawed otters and how to protect them in their natural habitat. A critical element in creating Pacific Point Preserve, which resembles a fishing wharf along the Pacific Coast, was incorporating a home for the Asian small-clawed otters.
Cemrock employed a multi-phased process using a combination of QUIKRETE Shotcrete MS and QUIKRETE Base Coat Stucco – Pump Grade to transform an old existing exhibit into a new natural habitat. Once the deteriorated exterior of the existing exhibit was removed and repairs were made to the underlying frame, Cemrock reinforced the foundation with shotcrete. Cemrock then pneumatically applied 196,000 lbs. of stucco over a strategically placed structural armature before sculpting stone and wood features familiar to Asian small-clawed otters, sea lions and harbor seals.
Finally, artisans used colored iron oxide pigments to give the exhibit a truly indigenous appearance. Despite being small and meek in appearance, Asian small-clawed otters average 6.5-lbs. and can be very destructive, so the long-term durability of the exhibit is important. As a result, QUIKRETE Concrete Acrylic Fortifier was mixed into the stucco for increased strength and protection against continuous moisture and salt water.
The growing popularity of advanced formula pre-blended stucco to shape zoos, aquariums, amusement parks and other entertainment attractions extend beyond traditional mix designs. Today, manufacturers like QUIKRETE are deploying research and development and operational resources to customize its base formulas in collaboration with contractors.
These enhancements can address aesthetics, durability, jobsite conditions and/or other project specifications. Whatever the reason – to match the look of a Pacific Coast fishing wharf or to shape a mythical water ride – the creative and artistic possibilities with pre-blended stuccos is endless.