Sedgwick County Zoo Downing Gorilla Forest

Wichita, Kansas

The largest exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo, the Downing Gorilla Forest, is located on an 8-acre site in an area that allows the animals to be viewed even in the coldest weather. Two gorilla families call the exhibit home along with okapi, colobus monkeys, storks, cranes, flamingos and several other species. The waterfall, heated gorilla rocks, and animal pools create a complete experience for the visitor by immersing them in the gorillas’ habitat.

Major Program Spaces

  • Gorilla viewing area
  • Gorilla holding area
  • Bedroom and birthing areas
  • Gorilla yard
  • 12-foot waterfall
  • Pools
  • Island
  • 50-foot suspension bridge
  • Okapi barn
  • Flamingo holding area
  • Colobus holding area
  • Plaza buildings
  • Restrooms
  • Concession building


  • Two independent HVAC areas
    • Public Areas: variable volume central station air handling unit with hepa filtration and fan-powered boxes equipped with hot water reheat
    • Gorilla Areas: three constant volume outdoor air handling units located on the roof provided with hepa filtration
  • Hot water for the hot rocks in the gorilla yard
  • Packaged air-cooled chiller
  • Gas-fired modular boilers
  • Gas-fired, high pressure washer
  • Water features: submersible pumps for recirculation and overflow equipped with mud interceptor
  • Low-intensity continuous infrared heating system with high intensity infrared heaters for okapi birthing stalls
  • Sensor operated plumbing fixtures in restrooms
  • Hot water floor warming in gorilla bedrooms
  • Misting system for plant life and theming
  • Lighting:  pool, exhibit, interior theme, waterfall, exterior