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Denver Zoo opens new animal hospital to the public

Stantec-designed 22,000-square-foot project replaces 40-year-old facility; animal care supports conservation and provides education


Denver Zoo, Colorado’s most visited paid cultural attraction, recently opened its state-of-the-art Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital to the public. The new facility, which replaces the nearly 40-year-old hospital, is designed to treat the Zoo’s 3,000-plus animals, from the tiniest tree frog to grizzly bears, while also providing guests a deep look inside animal care. The project was funded in large part by the Elevate Denver Bond Program, which Denver voters approved in 2017, as well as from the Helen and Arthur E Johnson Foundation.

The 22,000-square-foot facility—designed by the Denver office of global architecture and engineering firm Stantec—includes two treatment rooms, critical care units, and a cutting-edge surgical suite. The new facility provides safe access to the animals, offering holding areas that include quarantine spaces. These areas—both indoor and outdoor—are flexible, maximizing the space given to each animal. The building includes considerations for noise, views, and access to daylight to ensure animal comfort.

In addition to providing care for Zoo animals, the new hospital raises awareness of the Zoo’s mission—Inspiring Communities to Save Wildlife for Future Generations—and provides a powerful connection to Zoo guests. The Schlessman Family Foundation Visitor and Education Center’s elevated viewing platform allows guests a first-hand look at the Zoo’s industry-leading veterinary care. The treatment rooms, surgery suite, and laboratory are viewable to Zoo visitors, guest veterinarians, researchers, and students through large windows. Additionally, operating table lights are installed with cameras, allowing lobby visitors to see what the Zoo’s veterinarians are seeing through television displays broadcasting live from the surgery suite. When the treatment rooms are not in use, video displays and an on-staff facilitator provide information on the many procedures performed annually at the Zoo.

With a focus on the use of advanced medical equipment, Denver Zoo is among just a handful of animal hospitals in the country to include a CT scanner, using advanced imaging to revolutionize the ability to diagnose and treat animal patients. It also has digital radiography equipment, ultrasonography, endoscopy units, and advanced anesthesia monitoring.

“It’s thrilling to have the new Denver Zoo animal hospital welcome visitors for the first time,” said Alexander Thome, Stantec principal based in Denver. “Working with Denver Zoo to create a facility that raises the bar for animal care, while also engaging the public to better understand the Zoo’s mission via the guest-viewing experience has been a wonderful collaboration.”

“The Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital will greatly improve our ability to provide world-class care to the more than 3,000 animals that call Denver Zoo home,” said George Pond, Denver Zoo senior vice president for planning and design. “This facility is designed and equipped to serve our animals and guests exceptionally well for many years to come, and we’re grateful to Stantec for their significant contribution to the project.”

Stantec’s buildings group in Denver provided architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, lighting design, and project management on the project. Denver Zoo staff moved into the new animal hospital and began treating animals in fall 2020.

About Stantec
Communities are fundamental. Whether around the corner or across the globe, they provide a foundation, a sense of place and of belonging. That’s why at Stantec, we always design with community in mind. We care about the communities we serve—because they’re our communities too. This allows us to assess what’s needed and connect our expertise, to appreciate nuances and envision what's never been considered, to bring together diverse perspectives so we can collaborate toward a shared success. We’re designers, engineers, scientists, and project managers, innovating together at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. Balancing these priorities results in projects that advance the quality of life in communities across the globe.

Stantec trades on the TSX and the NYSE under the symbol STN.

About Denver Zoo
Home to more than 3,000 animals representing more than 450 species, Denver Zoo is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and the city’s oldest and most passionate advocate for the natural world. The Zoo is among the most visited cultural destination in Colorado, serving almost 2 million people per year, and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which assures the highest standards of animal care. With the mission inspiring communities to save wildlife for future generations, Denver Zoo dedicates almost $2 million annually to Zoo-led programs aimed at protecting animals within their natural habitats around the world. For more information, visit

Media Contact                                               
Ryan Lamont   
Stantec Media Relations                       
Ph: (213) 706-8428

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