Labor to construct the exhibit was donated by local unions and materials, such as slag for concrete aggregate, were donated by industries. The exhibit was built in a pit and made to resemble an island with rocky outcrops and was surrounded by a shallow pool of water. The interior of the structure is a heated room covered in glazed tiles that could be hosed down every evening. A tunnel connects the room to a building north of the exhibit.
In 1999, the spider monkeys inhabiting the exhibit were moved to the zoo's primate building. The exhibit was subsequently reconfigured as a habitat for alligators and snapping turtles until 2002, at which time the alligators and turtles were moved out and a duck exhibit moved in. The ducks were moved to the zoo's general pond in 2009, just prior to demolition of the exhibit. On September 25-26, 2009, the zoo held a special event as they dismantled the exhibit and gave visitors an opportunity to purchase a piece of the rocks that made the outcrops.
- Lilliston, Lyn (April 1954) "Kickoff drive for zoo here to be held Tuesday" The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Rewound
- Hogan, Ben (January 1969) "To 'Mr. Birmingham' the zoo is his trophy" The Birmingham News
- Thornton, William (September 24, 2009) "Birmingham Zoo to level Monkey Island, last original exhibit". The Birmingham News