Hippo Pool at the Albuquerque BioPark

Owner: City of Albuquerque
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico


The new Hippo Pool at the Albuquerque BioPark is a special place for the Nile hippopotamuses Moe, Karen, and baby Matilda to play and relax in privacy, away from the public. More than that, it is an essential part of the geriatric wellness care plan for Moe, who has far outlived the average life expectancy for hippos.

In addition to a new pool for the hippos to enjoy, the project included the installation of a new Life Support System (LSS), and a static screen system to improve the pool’s filtration efficiency. Upgrades to the LSS were crucial to addressing community concerns with the sewer system and building positive relationships with the surrounding neighborhood.

Several unique factors impacted the construction of this project. The foremost environmental challenge was ensuring that the daily routines of the animals, especially the hippos, were not disturbed by our construction activities. This was crucial as the construction site was near their living area. Our team was committed to keeping the hippos stress-free while they continued to access their barn for eating and sleeping and their existing pool exhibit during the day.

To minimize the impact on the hippos, we constructed temporary structures using jersey barriers, steel posts, and plywood. These structures served as a physical barrier, effectively blocking the view of construction activities from the hippos. A specialized shoring system employing a combination of chain-link fencing and shotcrete created a strong barrier capable of withstanding the significant weight and force potentially exerted by the nearby hippos during excavation.