Introduction: Stuffed Animal Zoo

About: I work as a Environmental Health and Safety specialist for Clark Reliance. Most of the guys there don't think I would know how to use a hammer. Sometimes, people are more than what they appear. :)

I saw a variation of this on pinterest a while back and didn't find a good instruction set on how to make one. I have a sister with 3 little ones at home, one 3 year old and an 18 month set of twins. Apparently they have lots of stuff and minimal storage for them. So I figured why not a place for all their animals?

Just remember, Please don't feed the animals. They are already stuffed :)

The finished zoo is about 42 inches tall. Overall dimensions are approximately 42"x18"x18"

Step 1: Tools and Supplies


Table saw

Drill - hand drill and drill press



Miter saw

Paint brushes

Pin nailer

Air compressor

Sand paper

Electrical tape - to tape ends of bungee when you cut it



3/4 plywood

scrap molding

1x6 scrap baseboard

2x2 oak - corner pillars

Zoo letters

Zoo animals


White paint - semi gloss

2P 10 glue

Wood glue

Pin nails

1/4 bungee roll x 100'

leveler glide feet

Step 2: Base Plates

The base plate is 18x18x 3/4 plywood (cabinet grade). I drilled holes through the plates to string the bungee cord through. For 1/4 cord I drilled 5/16 holes. I also counter sunk with a larger forstner bit for the knot to hold down inside the board. This allowed for a cleaner look and better holding ability than the washer and screw set up I saw on most pinterest pictures. I wanted the ability to hide the cord ends completely so I made a cap to go over the top (we will get to that).

Step 3: Stiles Aka Corner Posts

The corner posts were next. I used 2" thick oak that I had from another project. I cut it to 2"x2"x32" posts. From here I planed it down to 1 3/4 x 1 3/4 to smooth all sides as the oak was a bit rough cut on one side. This also removed any burn marks from the table saw blade.

From here I marked the ends 1 1/4 inch and used a 1/2" round router bit to shape up to the mark on the end. I knew I had an overlap of molding I was going to build up so I left the ends square to better attach it to the molding.

The posts were then sanded and attached to the base plates with glue and deck screws. Why deck screws? They self tap and don't split oak. I did test it on 2 pieces prior just to make sure.

Step 4: Bottom Plate Build Up

For the bottom build up, I used scrap molding from around a door frame that I never used and stored for the past 5 years. I cut it down with 45 degree miters at the corners. I put some scrap 2x2 oak cut offs in the corners to sturdy up the corners and also allow for a place to put the lever glides.

I had some other scrap molding around that I put on the top and bottom as well to make it look a little fancier. I don't even know what this profile was called. It has been sitting for years. This was all mitered on the corners as well and glued / pin nailed into place

Step 5: Top Molding and Cover

The actual top is designed to be removable in case a bungee ever breaks or stretches out too much. A strip of molding was attached to the top base plate to make a seat for the top to fit into. I used left over wainscoting stiles for the molding from a bathroom remodel.

The removable top is made of 3 layers. Layer one is 3/4 plywood. I created a picture frame with holes recessed for the bungee tops to fit into. On top of that is a layer of molding that matches the base plate. The last layer is another plywood blank 17x17 this time round.

At this point, the letters and animals were set on top to figure out the placement. They were sketched on with a pencil to help with painting. I wanted to leave the bottom areas under the letters unpainted so they would stick better when glued.

Step 6: Painting

The entire project was primed with a latex wood primer. Once dry for a day, the whole thing was painted with 2 coats of semi gloss white paint (left over from painting the baseboards in my home.)

I left the spots under the letters unpainted to help with the glue.

Once the paint was dry, I installed leveler glides on the corners according to the package. They used 3/8th holes. I drilled a pilot hole first to ensure they went in straight.

When the paint was dry, I drilled the original bungee holes back out again on a slow speed to clear the paint to allow the bungee cords to go through.

Step 7: Lettering and Bungee Cord

The letters and figurines were glued on with the 2P 10 glue (super strong super glue for woodworkers). I glued them on standing up looking down. I was so proud of how even I got the letters front to back and left to right. I took a picture and showed my wife. She says why is the Z backwards.......and so I had to make the super superglue come off which it didn't like without breaking the letter or messing up the paint too bad. A rubber mallet helped. So note to self, ask your wife what direction the Z goes before you glue it on. Or actually look at it from the front, not the top.

The bungee cord was measured and cut to make pairs, so instead of 34 inches I cut them at 70. I needed 8 in total, two per side. This allowed for one less cut per cord and also one knot that wouldn't have bungee fibers pull through. The knots were tied and pulled from the bottom to the top leaving the joined bungee hidden underneath at the base.

At the top, they were pulled taunt, added a knot, pulled down tight to secure the knot, and cut 1/2" up so the top cap could fit down solid.

The top cap was then put on and pressed down secure it in place. Although it is not glued, it is likely going to glue itself to the top with the paint as it is a very snug fit. If I ever need to replace a cord, a razor blade should break the seal.

Step 8: Finished Product

This is a Christmas gift for my nieces and nephew. I hope they fill it with lots of stuffed animals soon. Although they are more likely to probably fight over who can get inside of it with all the animals. Maybe I should have made it more anti tip.......hmm....

Anyway, I hope you like it and get some inspiration. It took me about 2 full days to create it (including paint dry time) once I cut my first piece.

Total cost spent was about 80 dollars but that includes several re-purposed pieces.

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