OC Zoo Improvement Project

New zoo entry plaza, Craftsman style with stone footing and wooden upper

New Restroom Building and Interim Entry Plaza Now Open

December 12, 2019 – The first phase of planned improvements at the OC Zoo in Irvine Regional Park opened to the public at the annual Christmas at the OC Zoo event.

The new interim entry plaza and restroom building match the existing craftsman architectural design of the existing buildings. The project also included undergrounding overhead power lines and removing four supporting power poles

An emergency power backup system with an innovative Tesla solar battery will provide emergency power to selected vital areas of the OC Zoo in the event of a prolonged power failure. The improvements will enhance function, public safety and aesthetics for OC Zoo visitors.

The OC Zoo is a 4.5-acre facility located within Irvine Regional Park that houses mammals, birds, reptiles and native vegetation representing the American Southwest. Many of the animals have been rehabilitated but cannot be released to the wild.

The next step in improvements are the large mammal exhibit.

OC Zoo Large Mammal Exhibit Project

October 8, 2019 -- The Orange County Board of Supervisors awarded the design-build contract to Rudolph & Sletten, Inc. and Jeff Katz Architecture, to provide design and construction services for the OC Zoo Large Mammal Exhibit Project.

The OC Zoo Large Mammal Exhibit Project will be located within approximately two acres of the back area of the zoo as part of a new Oak Woodlands exhibit referenced in the General Development Plan. The Project will have two separate exhibit areas that can be adjusted to create four separate display spaces, natural looking rock walls, climbing platforms, a waterfall element and secure fencing to protect the public and minimize injury to the animals in addition to a natural looking bridge to improve animal viewing by zoo patrons. The new exhibit will provide an exciting attraction and enhance the entrance and overall guest experience in the Zoo. The building and exhibit design area representative of the landscape and history of the area and are mindful of the environment. 


  • April 16, 2013 - The Board of Supervisors approved the General Development Plan (GDP) for the OC Zoo, including drainage improvements to minimize flooding, construction of a restroom, entrance enhancements, a new oak woodlands exhibit, new walkways and connectors and other features to enhance visitors’ experience at the OC Zoo.
  • November 6, 2018 - The Board of Supervisors approved a contract to build a new restroom building and interim entry plaza. OC Parks, in collaboration with OC Public Works, is using the Construction Manager At-Risk Contract delivery method of the proposed improvements. This presents a cost-effective alternative to the traditional design-bid-build process by, among other things, reducing the time in construction of the project.