The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland, Ohio, is an 183-acre zoo and animal park and one of the most popular year-round attractions in Northeast Ohio. Founded in 1882 at Wade Park, the Zoo is part of an extensive system of nature preserves in the Greater Cleveland area known as the Cleveland Metroparks and sees more than one million visitors every year.
Originally named the Cleveland Zoological Park, the zoo began with a collection of only animals of local origin and on moving to its current location in Old Brooklyn in 1907, the zoo then acquired its first elephant. In 1975 the Cleveland Metroparks took ownership of the Zoo and still manages it today.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is divided into several areas namely African Savanna, Australian Adventure, The Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building, The RainForest, Northern Trek, and Waterfowl Lake and is home to more than 3,000 animals from over 600 species. The Zoo also houses one of the largest collections of primates in the United States in an outstanding natural exhibition called Monkey Island, on which a large population of colobus monkeys lives in free-range conditions.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is sectioned into several bio-thematic areas that each represent different habitats and ecosystems and the animals that live in them.
Housed in a large, glass and granite two-story building spanning two acres of floor space, the RainForest boasts waterfalls, replicas of ancient Mayan ruins, over 10,000 plants, and more than 600 animals from the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Fauna and flora in this exotic display include giant anteaters, two-toed sloths, Bornean orangutans, and Egyptian fruit bats, as well as tropical almonds, lipstick trees, and balsam apples. Divided into an outer ring that houses an array of tropical plants and small mammal exhibits, as well as a café and a gift shop, and an inner ring that features the main animal exhibits, the RainForest is the largest indoor tropical environments in the world.
The African Savanna area consists of several spacious areas, which are home to Africa’s great beasts, including elephants, Masai giraffes, black rhinos, African lions, Grant’s zebras, bontebok, ostriches, and flamingoes. The popular African Elephant Crossing features two large ranges, namely the Mopani and the Savanna spread out over several acres and a gated crossing where visitors can watch as the elephants pass from area to area. The exhibit also has a ‘nose-to-trunk’ window, an elevated feeding station, and excellent open-air viewing of the herd. In addition to African elephants, the African Elephant Crossing exhibit is also home to naked mole rats, meerkats, and a giant African python.
Monkey Island is a large, concrete island structure surrounded by water and littered with several tree trunks, ropes, and shelters for the monkeys that live there to enjoy. Inhabitants on Monkey Island range include colobus monkeys and a Klipspringer.
Designed to resemble the Australian Outback, the Australian Adventure area is an eight-acre exhibit that houses a variety of endemic Australian animals such as wallabies, kangaroos, and wallaroos. Visitors can enjoy up close encounters with wallabies in the Wallaby Walkabout and learn how to shear a sheep at the Kookaburra Station. Koala Junction features the Gum Leaf Hideout which is home to koala bears, Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos, numbats, and short-beaked echidnas, as well as interactive displays that showcase the devastating effects of deforestation on Australian ecosystems. The Reinberger Homestead, which is constructed to reflect a traditional 19th-century sheep station, the Reinberger Homestead offers visitors an insight into Australian home life.
The Northern Trek area features cold climate habitats and the animals that live in them, such as grizzly and black bears, Siberian tigers, reindeer, endangered Persian onagers, and Bactrian camels. The area has a range of exhibits, including polar bear and sea lion exhibits, and the Wolf Wilderness, an education and viewing center with a 65,000-gallon pond for beavers, bald eagles, and six Mexican gray wolves. Visitors can also explore the Wolf Lodge, a 3,000-square-foot building that is modeled after a 19th-century fur trading post and offers information on the indigenous animals of North America's deciduous forests and wetlands.
Originally opened in 1975 as the Primate & Cat Building, the Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building houses one of the biggest collections of primate species in North America, including aye-ayes, New World monkeys, western lowland gorillas, and several species of lemur. The Cat section of the exhibit is home to snow leopards, cheetah, fossas, and red pandas, while the Aquatics section has a variety of sharks, electric eels, piranhas, a giant Pacific octopus, and hundreds of living coral.
The shallow marshlands of Waterfowl Lake are home Andean condors, Chilean flamingoes, Steller’s sea eagles, and trumpeter swans, as well as lemurs and gibbons on the lake’s islands. Wade Hall, one of the oldest zoo buildings in the United States can also be found here and serves as a Victorian ice cream parlor.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is located at 3900 Wildlife Way in Cleveland and is open Mondays through Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. A Welcome Plaza greets visitors at the entrance and features an amphitheater, a food court, a large souvenir shop and several administrative buildings. There are many smaller concession/souvenir stands located throughout the park. Visitors to the Zoo can explore on foot or use the Zoo Trams, which shuttle visitors between the Welcome Plaza and the Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building or the Northern Trek.
3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, OH 44109, Phone: 216-661-6500