Up in the Treetops
Another section of the Heart of the Zoo renovation plan was completed with the new Treetops, a three-level complex of shops, dining, and event space for Zoo guests (left). It was designed to be reminiscent of the colonial houses in Africa in the early 1900s and provided a beautiful spot for a leisurely respite in the center of the Zoo. The middle level included the Treetops Banquet Room, with room for meetings, parties, receptions, and other gatherings that guests could book through the Zoo’s Sales Department. The lower level boasted something very few zoos or even theme parks could claim: a full-service, fine-dining restaurant, Albert’s (below), with its own expert chef, a full bar for cocktails and happy hour, and a patio for outdoor dining next to a waterfall.
The restaurant was named after Albert the gorilla, the Zoo’s well-known and much-loved silverback. He had first come to the Zoo as a baby in 1949 with companions Bouba and Bata, and was raised at the Zoo hospital by caregiver Edalee Orcutt, with many visits from Belle Benchley, who was very fond of the trio. Treetops was also built in the location where the Zoo’s first gorilla grotto exhibit had been built by then-director Dr. Charles Schroeder in 1963—all the more reason to name the restaurant after one of the most famous gorillas to live there! Treetops and Albert’s are still a favorite spot in the Zoo today, and the Price Education Center was added in 2013, with all-new classroom spaces for the Education Department.