The Memphis Zoo's New Exhibit: Beacons, Apps and Hippos, Oh My!

The Memphis Zoo's New Exhibit: Beacons, Apps and Hippos, Oh My!

If you’re in Memphis, you know we’ve had some crazy weather so far this summer. But with all the rainy days, we recently had some beautiful, sunny ones strung together. I took full advantage and drove over to the Memphis Zoo to see the new Zambezi River Hippo Camp.

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Memphis Zoo Web Design Partnership

Secretly I must confess, I got a behind-the-scenes look during the construction phase and was impressed with the vision of what this space would be. Yet seeing the completed exhibit exceeded every expectation I had.

I mean, where else can you get face-to-face with a hippo or a 15-foot crocodile from Africa? At the Memphis Zoo, that’s where.

We’ve been partners with the Memphis Zoo for a long time, but I love that they keep looking for ways to improve the visitors' and members’ experience, while providing world-class care for the exotic animals under their charge.

Speak Tours the Zambezi River Hippo Camp

While the name makes you think hippos, there are actually 10 exotic species to see in this exhibit. Walking up, you are immediately greeted by beautiful pink flamingos flanking the entrance.

As you walk the path towards the main building, you’ll encounter the patas monkeys hanging from their perches, and a really unique animal - the okapi - which looks like a cross between a zebra and a small giraffe. Did you know an okapi can lick it’s own ear? Yeah, me neither until I read about it on the Zoo’s microsite.

The showstoppers of this area are clearly the three hippos, Splish, Binti and Uzazi. The Memphis Zoo has had hippos dating back to 1914, and Splish’s lineage dates back to Adonis, one of the zoo’s earliest hippos.

Viewing these magnificent giants from the underwater viewing area is a must. During my visit, all three were cuddled up next to each other under the water, taking a nap.

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While I’m not typically a fan of any reptile, the Nile crocodiles were pretty amazing as well. Sunning themselves on the banks of their area, these massive crocs slept with their mouths wide open.

While they weren’t swimming or super active during my visit, I have heard that it’s pretty fascinating to watch them eat. Feeding happens on the weekends around noon, so I’ll be back with my family to see that soon!

Experience the Zoo with Beacons

Beyond just the cool factor of seeing these amazing animals in such a beautiful environment, parents, teachers and students have a wealth of information at their fingertips to continue learning about the African region that this exhibit is modeled after, as well as each animal species present.

We partnered with the Memphis Zoo to design and launch a companion site to their existing website full of stunning images, unique facts about each species, conservation information about the efforts being made to protect Africa’s Zambezi River and its animals, videos of the construction process for this exhibit and even how they managed to move two 5,000 pound hippos from across the property. 

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The microsite houses a wealth of knowledge, but visitors who use the zoo’s mobile app now have access to more interactive content as they move through the exhibit. Beacons are strategically placed (and very inconspicuous) so that as you experience the exhibit, relevant messages and other content is pushed to your phone. These proximity-based messages will be changed frequently by the zoo’s marketing team, and some of the content is being curated by students at St. George’s Independent School.

Hands-on learning is encouraged throughout this exhibit. Tactile exploration via signage lets kids touch-and-feel a replica of what the hippos skin feels like, and see how large their feet are.

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While as an adult, I am definitely impressed with the exhibit overall, as a mom, I am even more thrilled to see the little touches that make the zoo a fun place for kids and families. There is a small stage area with fun masks to pose for pictures behind (which we did), an antique car you might find on an African safari (yep, posed here too), and a music area with drums. The kid in me wanted to play a bit, but since these kids were having a blast I will save that for another time.

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Zambezi is definitely a beautiful, well-designed space, but most importantly, it maintains the zoo's primary focus of education through fun. I'm so proud of the work our team has done to support our friends at the Memphis Zoo from designing the new Zambezi microsite to integrating beacons with their mobile app.


We're thrilled for our friends at the Memphis Zoo on the successful launch of this new exhibit and the use of new technology like beacons. Interested in learning more about beacons or other experiential marketing technologies? We'd love to talk with you.
Posted by Amanda Evans at 7:00 AM
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