ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Como Park Zoo and Conservatory has a new exhibit open, featuring Japanese style bonsai trees. And work is underway to create a new outdoor space for the zoo’s seven gorillas.

The Ordway Gardens wing is attached to the 100-year-old conservatory. The new gorilla space is attached to their current building.

The new $2.8 million wing has been a couple years in the making, but it’s now a place where the zoo can show off their bonsai collection all year.

“It’s a potted tree and then you shape it and form it with wire and it takes a long, long time to grow the gnarled-up bases,” said Judi Pearce.

There’s also plenty of opportunities to learn while inside.

“Inside our Ordway Gardens here we have many boards and educational materials to tell you and show you exactly what the bonsai is,” Zookeeper Tami Murphy said. “We do have two new nice outdoor areas. We will have two groups of gorillas for these two new exhibits. We’ve got a family group — that’s made up of one male and three new females here and we also have a bachelor group which is made of three males and they just came into Como and they are currently in a quarantine area, which is standard procedure. They’ll be in there for about 30 days before we can let them into the public eyes.”

The new exhibit is the largest mesh-topped gorilla exhibit in North America.

The Ordway Gardens are open now, and the new outdoor gorilla exhibit opens on June 6.

And the gorilla space has heaters in some places, so the animals can be out sooner in spring, and later in the fall.


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