El Paso Zoo Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit

The El Paso Zoo is a 35-acre facility that houses animals representing over 220 species, including critically endangered species. Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the El Paso Zoo celebrates the value of animals and natural resources and creates opportunities for people to rediscover their connection to nature. The Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit showcases North America’s most diverse desert that encompasses the El Paso and Northern Mexico regions. The exhibit tells the story of the Chihuahuan Desert giving visitors the opportunity to experience not only the land, but the animals that surround them every day. Illustrating the habitat of an El Paso Texas Backyard, El Paso Zoo director Steve Marshall states “Our central goal with the new Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit is to inspire our visitors to go explore these biomes in our nearby, fantastic National and State Parks and even their own backyards – where they can make a personal, incredible impact on conservation.”

PGAV Destinations, a global attraction and exhibit design firm, worked on this mega million-dollar project that encompasses just 2.3 acres. “One of the greatest challenges of El Paso’s new exhibit space is incorporating an expansive set of animals into just over two acres, while ensuring that it is beautiful, tells a rich and cohesive story, and is healthy for the animals,” said John Kemper, vice president PGAV Destinations. “By overcoming that challenge, we intend to instill wonder in guests at the vast biodiversity in their own backyards and inspire them to explore the nearby wilderness and take action in conservation.”

With plans in place and everyone working towards the same design goals, Bomanite Artistic Concrete & Pools worked with PGAV Destinations and the El Paso Zoo on the decorative concrete surfaces that consisted of three different styles of implementation. To achieve the desert landscape with the natural ecosystem of plants and animals, natural stone patterns and aggregates were chosen. As Visitors enter the exhibit they come through a recreated arroyo (a dry riverbed, which in nature, floods with water during times of heavy rain), The Bomacron Garden Stone pattern with a natural English slate texture consists of varying sizes of stones that range from ½” x 1” up to 15” x 21” providing a realistic approach to replicating the desert rock riverbed landscape of boulders down to small pebbles. A total of 15,000 square feet of imprinted concrete pattern was installed using Bomanite Sand Integral Color for the base along with varying Bomanite Color Hardeners of Autumn Brown and Forrest Brown. A Bomanite Clear Sealer was applied for future protection from the outdoor elements.

Visitors are greeted with a Mexican Grey Wolf sculpture by artist Andy Dufford. The exhibit design was carefully composed to preserve a large number of existing mature trees; which, along with ample new shade structures, make the area comfortable and inviting while maintaining sustainability goals. An essential part of the overall geography and lifelike scene was an implemented 45’ mountain, inspired by the nearby Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site. To reveal the power and dangers of storms in the nearby deserts, the mountain recirculates 10,000 gallons of water every five minutes to simulate a flash flood. The central habitat of the mountain range is home to jaguars and mountain lions, which allows the zoo to be able to rotate animals through the exhibits and be visible from all sides. A mesh barrier separates the big cats from habitats at the base of the mountain where numerous herbivores graze among native plants, all seemingly inhabiting the same exhibit.

An additional feature of walking paths invite visitors to pass beneath two abandoned bridges that allow jaguars to cross between the mountain and their individual exhibit spaces. The native desert trail of 850 sq.ft. was composed of a Natural Exposed Aggregate Concrete Finish that winds its way in and out of areas and directs visitors also to covered viewing bridge decks. The dilapidated designed bridges provide shade and viewing areas of many other animals such as the Harris Hawk, Thick-billed Parrot, Ocelot and the White Nose Coati. The Bomacron 6” Random Boardwalk pattern was used with Autumn Brown Color Hardener and a Walnut Brown Bomanite Release Agent. To give it that worn aged look accents in Forest Brown were added and then the 717 sq. ft. of textured and imprinted concrete was given a final seal.

Bomanite Imprint Systems is a cast-in-place concrete that adds a distinctive architectural touch to any project, that also incorporates durability to stand up to the toughest traffic loads and environmental conditions. You can choose from many natural textures including slate, granite, limestone, sandstone, cobblestone, used brick and wood to upgrade plain concrete or asphalt, or alternatively reduce the cost and maintenance of natural paving materials and simulate real world habitats. To visit the zoo and view the animals virtually visit

AWARDS: Bomanite Artistic Concrete received the Best Bomanite Imprint Systems 2019 Silver Award for their creative native habitat work on the El Paso Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit

Kansas City Zoo – Helzberg Penguin Plaza

The design team at Bowman Bowman Novick approached Bomanite Licensee, Musselman & Hall in 2012 to discuss the concept and determine the reality of executing the vision of the new $15 million state-of-the-art penguin exhibit at the Kansas City Zoo.  Musselman & Hall quickly assured the design team and owner that not only could the plaza be constructed per the concept but Musselman & Hall could help them go beyond that of their expectations.

Bomanite Sandscape Texture was chosen for the 2,500 square foot plaza. The entrance was engraved and stained to replicate the earth from a south pole perspective. Antarctica, Australia, South America, Africa, and the Galapagos Islands were stained into the plaza along with the oceans using several coordinating colors of Bomanite Con-Color. The stain was layered from light to dark tones to create relief and variation in the oceans and land masses. The oceans were stained a light blue near the continents; transitioning to deep, dark blue at the deepest areas of the ocean. Likewise the continents were stained. Vinyl templates/ paint masks were produced, using CAD files, for layout of the continents on the 56’ diameter globe. All longitudinal and latitudinal lines were bevel cut into the plaza. Eighteen species of penguins along with their unique footprints (to scale) were engraved into the plaza. Layout and execution was critical and accuracy was of the utmost importance to the owner and designer.

The work performed by Musselman & Hall earned them top recognition and a Gold Award for the Best Bomanite Exposed Aggregate Project of the year. The Helzberg Penguin Plaza entrance is the just the beginning to inspire people’s interest in becoming stewards of the planet’s wild penguin populations. For more information on the Helzberg Penguin Plaza and LEED Certification:

Kansas City Zoo

For years the front entrance to the Kansas City Zoo was an unwelcoming and inconvenient meandering trail that forced visitors to drag their strollers, children and other paraphernalia across a long and unsightly path to the ticket office. All that has changed.

In the spring of 2008 Musselman & Hall began work on a $ 342,500 project to beautify the Zoo entrance. The M&H contract was part of a much larger undertaking administered by J.E. Dunn Construction Co. to tie the new entrance to a renovation of the Otter Habitat. Adam Cox was project manager for Dunn and Brian Tevelt was job superintendent. The landscape architect for the work was Confluence Architects under lead architect Matt Evett and the project architect was Peckham, Guyton Albers & Viets, Inc. (PGAV) represented by Dale Thies.

The M&H portion of the work included the placement of nearly 22,000 s.f. of Sandscape Texture by Bomanite sidewalk, 2,900 s.f. of exposed aggregate sidewalk, and 4,500 s.f. of integrally colored pavement at the entrance. All of the work had to be completed in six weeks in order to meet the schedule for the grand opening. The crew, under the supervision of M&H foreman Sam Kroesen, worked seven days a week to meet the deadline. According to M&H project manger Dan Kroesen, “This project was very difficult for us. Because we were the last contractor on the site, we were left with a very short time to get our work done. In addition, we had to do extensive planning work to get the layout right so we could blend the various colors into a pattern that would look good and, at the same time, be properly jointed so that shrinkage cracks would occur in the joints and not across the slabs.” Dan went on, “The coolest thing is that outside the Otter Exhibit we used an otter foot stamp to make it look like the otters had tracked through the fresh concrete. I can’t wait to take my kids to see it.” The integrally colored pavement included Bomanite Light Copper and Granola colors. The Sandscape Texture sidewalks contained alternating bands of the same Light Copper and Granola shades.

When asked about the finished product, Zoo project manager Mike Stuckey remarked, “We are very pleased with the final result. Musselman & Hall paid great attention to our needs and worked hard to meet the schedule. We have had hundreds of compliments on the work. Now, instead of dealing with the old ugly entrance, our patrons can literally pull up to the front door, drop off their passengers, and find a place to park close by. Once they enter the Zoo, they get an immediate experience with the Swan and Otter exhibits. We could not be happier!”