Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Entrance
Date opened 1882[1]
Location Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Land area 165 acres (67 ha)
Coordinates 41°26′49″N 81°42′43″W / 41.447°N 81.712°W / 41.447; -81.712Coordinates: 41°26′49″N 81°42′43″W / 41.447°N 81.712°W / 41.447; -81.712
Annual visitors 1,227,593 (2007)[2]
Memberships AZA[3]

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a 165-acre (67 ha) zoo in Cleveland, Ohio. The zoo is divided into several areas: the RainForest, the African Savanna, Northern Trek, the Australian Adventure, and the Primates, Cats, and Aquatics House. The Metroparks Zoo has one of the largest collections of primates in North America.[4] It features Monkey Island, a concrete island where a large population of Colobus Monkeys are kept in free-range conditions (no cages or walls). The zoo is a part of the Cleveland Metroparks system.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo was founded in 1882, which makes it the seventh oldest zoo in the United States. It is the most popular year round attraction in Northeast Ohio (by attendance the Cleveland Indians were the most popular attraction in Northeast Ohio in 2007 with a total attendance of 2,275,911. The Zoo announced that 1,227,593 people visited in 2007. This represented a 2% rise in attendance from 2006. The Zoo credits its increased popularity to special programs and events such as "Boo at the Zoo," "DINOSAURS!,' and "TOUCH! amazing rays and sharks."[2]



The zoo first opened at Wade Park in 1882 on the current location of Cleveland Museum of Art. In 1907, the city of Cleveland moved the zoo to its current location, and the zoo acquired its first elephant.[5] For the most part the early years of the zoo kept only local animals of origin. Starting in 1910 the zoo built Monkey Island, Sea Lion Pools and bear exhibit. In 1940, the zoo received its third Elephant and its first elephant resident since 1924,[5] and at the same time the Cleveland Museum of Natural History assumed control of the zoo.

Between 1955 and the transfer of management to the Cleveland Metroparks in 1975 the zoo experienced much expansion and at the same time some setbacks due to flooding. In 1975, construction began on The Primate & Cat Building, in 1992 The Rainforest, followed by Wolf Wilderness in 1997, Australian Adventure in 2000, and The Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine in 2004.[1]

Building/exhibit history

The following is a selected list of when buildings and exhibits were created:

  • 1882: Zoo opens as Wade Park in Cleveland's University Circle
  • 1884: Wade hall is built
  • 1907: Cleveland's City Council moves the zoo to its current location build the Cleveland Museum of Art
  • 1934: Monkey island is completed
  • 1956: The Pachyderm Building is built
  • 1975: Construction began on The Primate & Cat Building
  • 1985: Aquatics portion of the Cat and Primate Building is added
  • 1992: The RainForest is completed
  • 1997: Wolf Wilderness is completed
  • 2000: Australian Adventure in completed
  • 2004: The Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine opens.
  • 2011: African Elephant Crossing opens[6]


Map of the current Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is divided into several biothematic areas, each housing animals from a particular region of the world. Each region is themed for the particular area of the world they are representing, though older regions are themed less than the newly constructed ones (such as Primate, Cats and Aquatics). The largest souvenir shop & food Court is located in the Welcome Plaza. Concession stands are located throughout the zoo in all regions of the parks. The Welcome Plaza includes administrative buildings and Amphitheater.

There are two modes of transportation through the zoo other than walking. These include two "ZooTram" lines that circle the Welcome Plaza (Near the pachyderm building) to Primate, Cat and Aquatics and Northern Trek to the Welcome Plaza (Near the food court).

The Rainforest

The Rainforest is one of the most popular exhibits at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It is contained in a large two story building with over 2 acres (8,100 m2) of floor space, making it one of the largest tropical indoor environments in the world. The Rainforest boasts more than 6,000 plants and over 600 animals from the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Tropical rain Storm located in the rainforest

The Rainforest is housed in a large glass and granite building, just outside the main entrance to the zoo. It is divided between an outer ring, which houses an assortment of tropical plants, small primates, a cafeteria, and a gift shop, and an inner area, which contains the principal animal exhibits. The animal habitats are located on both floors of the Rainforest. The animal exhibits contained on the ground floor are collectively known as the "Lower Forest" and those on the second floor are known as the "Upper Forest."

Rainforest building exterior

Upon entering the Rainforest a visitor is immediately confronted by a 25-foot (7.6 m) waterfall, and a large tropical garden that soars two stories. The wall behind the waterfall resembles Ancient Mayan ruins. Within the wall there are a series of small New World Primate exhibits, featuring the: common tamarin, emperor tamarin, Geoffroy's tamarin, Goeldi's monkey, white-faced marmoset, and the endangered golden lion tamarin. The outer ring of the Rainforest is also home to a wide variety of tropical plants including: Lancepod, Balsam Apple, Tropical Almond, Lipstick Tree, numerous varieties of orchid, a Kapok Tree, and the rare Titan Arum (the Corpse Flower). Inside the exhibit there is a large recreation of a rainforest on an island called "tropical rain storm" where simulated rain occurs periodically. The island is home to Indian Porcupines. A gift shop and cafeteria are located to the left of the main entrance.

Animals contained in the Rainforest include: lar gibbon, Egyptian fruit bats, giant anteaters, capybaras, scarlet ibis, prehensile-tailed porcupines, two-toed sloths, green and black poison arrow frogs, a reticulated python, green vine snakes, a green anaconda, clouded leopard, Batagur turtles, Brazilian ocelots, Bornean orangutans, the extremely rare fishing cat, and gharial crocodile.

African Savanna

Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine found at the Zoo

The African Savanna area of the park is located near the entrance of the park. You can observe lions, giraffes, zebras, gazelles, a variety of African birds, black rhinos and colobus monkeys. The Pachyderm Building is home to elephants, warthogs, tapirs and hippos. On July 11, 2007, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Black Rhinoceros Inge gave birth to a female rhinoceros named Zuri.

The Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine. As part of the Cleveland Metroparks and Zoo's focus on conservation, the Zoo constructed the Center for Zoological Medicine in September 2004. The veterinary hospital hosts medical, laboratory and surgical suites, a ward and quarantine area. Also housed here is the Reinbergerger Learning Lab, where Zoo visitors can learn about veterinary care at all stages of an animal's life. The Learning Lab features interactive hands-on educational displays and views to surgical suites where visitors might sneak a peak at a treatment procedure in progress. This hospital is equipped with the first CT Scanner in any zoo.

Monkey Island was built in 1934. The exhibit is a large island surrounded by water and is home to Marine Iguana, Cape Hyrax, Klipspringer, and the Colobus Monkey.[7]

African Plains is several large yards that featuring African mammals and birds. The African Plains feature animals such as the hartebeests, Masai giraffes, bonteboks, gazelles, ostriches, and storks.

African Elephant Crossing The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has recently unveiled a large new African Elephant Habitat which will become a model for other zoos in the United States. The new exhibit is a state of the art habitat, which quadruples the elephants' living space. Under the expansion the Zoo increases its number of elephants from a group of three to a herd of eight to ten African Elephants. At least one of the new elephants is a bull, and eventually the herd will include calves through breeding. The exhibit features two large ranges, spread out over several acres. The ranges include deep ponds so that the elephants can swim, and expanded sleeping quarters. Parts of the ranges are heated, to maximize the elephants habitat during the winter. In addition to expanding the number of African Elephants, the African Elephant Crossing includes meerkats, naked mole rats, African Rock Pythons, and several species of birds. The Zoo opened the exhibit on May 5th, 2011. The total cost to construct the exhibit cost $25 million.

TOUCH! is an interactive 11,000-US-gallon (42,000 l; 9,200 imp gal) saltwater pool/exhibit that allows visitors to touch small sharks and stingrays. The touch exhibit features cownose rays, Southern red stingrays and bamboo sharks that all swim freely. The exhibit even offers the unique chance to feed the animals. In 2008, nurse sharks and horseshoe crabs were added to the exhibit.[8]

Australian Adventure

Kangaroo found in Australian Adventure

Australian Adventure is a 8-acre (3.2 ha) exhibit, home to wallaroos, kangaroos and wallabies that roam freely in Wallaby Walkabout. At Kookaburra Station and contact yard you can touch Merino sheep, goats, and other farm animals.

Gum Leaf Hideout is the home to the zoo's collection of Numbats, Koalas, Goodfellow's Tree-kangaroo, and Short-beaked Echidna.

Reinberger Homestead is a themed traditional 19th century sheep station. The sheep station offers zoo visitors a peek into Australian home life. In addition the park is home to a 55-foot (17 m) Yagga Tree which contains animal exhibits and a snake slide.[9] Australian Adventure is only open mid-March through October.

Wallaby Walkabout is modeled after the Australian outback which features a winding path that visitors share with kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos during the months of April through October.[10] The landscape includes plants intended to be consumed by the animals. In July 2007 the zoo was under heavy scrutiny by PETA after a 1-year-old Kangaroo was struck and killed by the exhibit's train. In response the Zoo quickly fired the employee and installed a fence around the train tracks to prevent future injuries from happening.[11]

Northern Trek

Thorold's Deer found at Northern Trek

The Northern Trek is home to cold climate animals. The zoo contains the largest collections of bear species in North America. In addition, The Northern Trek is home to Moose, Siberian tigers, Reindeer, Thorold's deer, Bactrian camels, Polar Bear, Harbor seals and Sea Lions.

Wolf Wilderness Wolf Wilderness gives visitors a comprehensive look into the environment and wildlife of a northern temperate forest. Wolf Lodge anchors the exhibit and serves as an education and viewing center for gray wolves, beavers, and a variety of wetland species. Wolf Wilderness is one of the principal North American habitats at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The exhibit consists of a wooden building (Wolf Lodge), a large fenced in woodland enclosure for the wolves, a 65,000 gallon pond, panoramic viewing rooms, and a gift shop.

Visitors access Wolf Wilderness through the appropriately named Wolf Lodge, a 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) building that is modeled after a 19th century fur trading post.[12] The building is divided into four parts. Upon entering a person walks into a large visitor center which has extensive information on animals indigenous to the North American deciduous forests and wetlands. This room leads to the two principal exhibit areas.

American Bald Eagle found at Wolf Wilderness

The first principal exhibit room is dedicated to the six Mexican Gray Wolves housed at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. A visitor is able to observe the wolves through a large viewing room with floor to ceiling windows, which look out onto the Mexican Grey Wolf habitat itself. There are also video cameras placed within the wolves habitat and televisions playing the live feed in the observation room. The wolves are contained in a large wooded area directly behind the Wolf Lodge.

The wolf viewing area leads directly to the wetlands and wolf display room. Here, visitors can observe both the wolves, and several other animals which are native to North America. Like the wolf viewing room, this area contains floor to ceiling windows. However, while visitors can see the wolves from this room, the principal exhibits are the Canadian Beaver habitat, a 65,000-US-gallon (250,000 l; 54,000 imp gal) freshwater pond and a Bald Eagle. The Canadian Beaver habitat contains a cut section display of a beaver dam that allows a person to see the beavers in their nest. The pond comes right up to the viewing window, creating an aquarium effect, allowing visitors to see what a wetland pond looks like underwater. The pond contains numerous fish indigenous to North American wetlands. Finally, the exhibit is home to one of the Bald Eagles housed at the zoo.[13]

Primate, Cat & Aquatics

Lemurs at the Cleveland Zoo

The Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building features one of the largest collection of primate species in North America.[14] Currently totaling 34 species including gorillas and lemurs. Beyond the building some primates are located throughout the park in locations such as the Rainforest. In addition, many aquatic species can be seen in 35 displays of salt and fresh exhibits such as sharks, piranhas, Giant Pacific Octopus and living coral.[4]

Outdoor exhibits feature the outdoor section of the gorilla exhibit, dholes, Aldabra tortoises, cheetahs, Snow leopards, and Madagascan fossas.

Waterfowl Lake

Waterfowl Lake is home to aye-ayes, flamingos, gibbons, lemurs and a butterfly exhibit in Public Greenhouse. In addition, Waterfowl lake is home to Wade Hall which is one of the oldest zoo buildings in North America.[15] Today the hall is home to an ice cream shop.

DINOSAURS! In the summer of 2007 the zoo featured 15 prehistoric animals along Waterfowl Lake. The 2007 and 2010 "DINOSAURS!" exhibit featured dinosaurs from all over the world including Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, Omeisaurus, Dilophosaurus, Baryonyx, Iguanodon, Styracosaurus, Apatosaurus, Kentrosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Suchomimus and more[16]

Services & Special Events


Day Camp is offered during the summer months for Kids ages 5-12. Children can participate in a week of Summer Day Camp. The program promotes conservation and understanding of nature and the animals we share the world with. Children are grouped according to age to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment. Overnight Camp opportunities include "Rising Waters Safari Camp" which is an African-themed overnight camp. Campers at Rising Waters stay in the Zoo's African Savanna, for an authentic safari experience. The program combines elements of African culture with an overall theme of conservation for African animals.[17]


Boo at the Zoo is the zoo's yearly fall event that takes place in October. "Boo at the Zoo" is a safe Halloween option that offers special live Animal Shows and other fall related activities. Visitors are encouraged to wear costumes to the park.[18]


  1. ^ a b "Zoo History". Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Attendance Climbs Again at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo". Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Attendance Climbs Again at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo". Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "All elephants at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in United States". Elephant Encyclopedia. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  6. ^ African Elephant Crossing,
  7. ^ Monkey island,
  8. ^ Touch,
  9. ^ auzie adventure,
  10. ^ Wallaby Walkabout Info:
  11. ^ PETA wants zoo fined for Kangaroo death
  12. ^ Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Website,
  13. ^ Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Website,
  14. ^
  15. ^ Wade Hall,
  16. ^ DINOSAURS!,
  17. ^ Overnight Camps,
  18. ^ boo at the zoo,

External links

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