Toledo Zoo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Toledo Zoo
Date opened 1900[1]
Location Toledo, Ohio, United States
Coordinates 41°37′09″N 83°34′51″W / 41.6191°N 83.5807°W / 41.6191; -83.5807Coordinates: 41°37′09″N 83°34′51″W / 41.6191°N 83.5807°W / 41.6191; -83.5807
Land area 51 acres (210,000 m2) on south side
Number of animals 4,800[2]
Number of species 700[2]
Memberships AZA,[3] WAZA,[4] BFCI[5]
Major exhibits Africa!, African Savanna, Aquarium, Arctic Encounter, Aviary, Bald Eagles, Cheetah Valley, Fisher-Price Children's Zoo, Frogtown, Kingdom of the Apes, Museum of Science, Primate Forest, Reptile House, Snow Leopards, Tiger Terrace, Ziems Conservatory, Tembo Trail, Penguin Beach

Toledo Zoo is a zoo located in Toledo, Ohio. The zoo began in 1900 as Toledo Zoological Gardens and operated by the City of Toledo's Parks Board. In 1982 ownership was transferred from the city to Toledo Zoological Society, a private non-profit organization, and professionalized the zoo's management. Many of the zoo's original buildings were built by the Works Progress Administration, and are still in use today.

Toledo Zoo is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and participates in over 30 Species Survival Plans. It is also a member of the Butterfly Conservation Initiative (BFCI). The zoo has also been home to many firsts in the world of zoos; such as the first hippoquarium (and subsequently the first video of a hippo birth),[citation needed] as well as being the first place in the world to display the Kihansi spray toad.[6] In 2014, the Toledo Zoo won USA TODAY's #1 zoo in America.


Toledo Zoo's bridge

Toledo Zoo began in 1900, when a woodchuck was donated to the City of Toledo. In 1918, plans were made to move the Toledo Zoo from Walbridge Park to Ottawa Park, where it would "represent the finest and the third largest zoo in the United States." [7] These plans were never carried out.

The zoo was run by the city until 1982, when management was transferred to the Toledo Zoological Society. It has since added many new exhibits. In June 1986, the Hippoquarium, Phase 1 of the African Savanna, opened; Phase 2 opened the following year, in June 1987.

Because of the success of the Hippoquarium exhibit, the Toledo Zoo was given an opportunity to exhibit two giant pandas on loan from China for the summer of 1988. This was the first year that the zoo had over a million people attend in one year. The exhibit became controversial when the World Wildlife Foundation sued the Toledo Zoo over exhibiting pandas on a short term loan. The zoo was also charging people to see the pandas as a separate exhibit and because of the lawsuit the zoo was ordered to get rid of the fee because it was a part of the regular zoo. All in all the lawsuit was settled out of court and the pandas were exhibited like planned throughout the summer. But, because of all the nation-wide media attention the zoo gained during the lawsuit it is assumed many more people came to the zoo from all over the country to see the pandas on exhibit.[citation needed]

In 1998 the zoo renovated its Aviary which was originally built around 1930. In 1999 Toledo Zoo received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Exhibit Award for Excellence.

In recent years, the zoo built a pedestrian bridge over the Anthony Wayne Trail. Before the bridge was built, people could get into the zoo through an underground tunnel.[1]



Africa! opened on May 1, 2004 and is 12 acres (49,000 m2) large. The main exhibit, the African plains, is 5 acres (20,000 m2). It has artificial termite mounds for the free-roaming African animals, such as the East African crowned cranes, Grant's zebra, greater kudu, helmeted guineafowl, impala, Masai giraffe, Nile lechwe, ostrich, and wildebeest. There is also a 0.6-acre (2,400 m2) section for Cape hunting dogs. This is all viewed by visitors on an observation deck or the Safari Railway, which circles Africa! Children can ride the only African animal carousel in existence. Africa! was built on the site of the original gravel parking lot that existed before the bridge was built. In March 2010, a male baby giraffe named Enzi was born whose father, Mowgli, is another famous giraffe at the zoo.

African Savanna (now known as "Tembo Trail: Elephants of the Savanna")[edit]

Zoo exhibit design trends began to change in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Zoo boards and directors saw a need to move animals out of sterile, iron-barred cages and into more naturalistic exhibits that help educate the public. In 1981, noted architectural firm Jones & Jones was tapped to conceptualize a bold master plan for the zoo. With input from famed zoo architect Jon Coe, the zoo drew-up plans for its first immersion exhibit and a first-of-its-kind exhibit, The Hippoquarium. Opened in 1986, African Savanna led visitors on a safari-like expedition through the major biomes of Africa; the river, the woodlands, the savanna, and the rock kopje.

Visitors started their safari under a sculpted archway designed by Toledo artist Patricia Wagenman. The sculpture represents the territorial jostling of two male hippos with mouths wide open. The design later became the zoo's logo emblem until 2012.

African clawless otter on the Tembo Trail

From there, visitors could see Slender-snouted crocodiles or a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the hippo's night quarters. Next visitors descended down a ramp to the first-of-its-kind Hippoquarium, where visitors could see the underwater world of the Nile hippopotamus. The 360,000 US gallon (1,400,000 l; 300,000 imp gal) pool,[9] allowed visitors to view hippos underwater. The filtering system cleans 8,000 gallons of water every 90 minutes.[10] In 1987, the crystal-clear water allowed researchers to view the underwater birth of a hippo, which had never before been seen in the wild or in captivity.[citation needed] There have been two subsequent births.[10] One of these births was video-recorded and can be viewed on a monitor near the exit of the Hippoquarium.[2] The Hippoquarium was rated by USA Today as one of the nation's ten best animal exhibits, and was featured in National Geographic.[8] Across from the hippos, the zoo exhibited African clawless otters, one of only a few zoos in the nation to do so.

Exiting the Hippoquarium, visitors would walk into the African woodlands. In 1999, plans to breed Renee and Rafiki with a bull from Pittsburgh got underway. Conception did not occur in either female. The zoo then inseminated Renee and Rafiki. Renee birthed Louie, a male calf born on April 26, 2003. Rafiki miscarried. Rafiki was transferred to North Carolina after Renee became too protective of her new calf. In May 2010, the zoo took in a new elephant named Twiggy, from a circus that was not taking good care of her. On June 3, 2011, the Zoo welcomed another baby male elephant, Lucas (named in honor of Lucas County residents) born to mother, Renee. Visitors would then walk into the elephant night quarters.

From there, visitors would enter the savanna and see white rhinoceros in one exhibit and watusi cattle next door.

From the savanna visitors would enter the rock kopje with a gang of meerkats. In Allen Nyhuis' book titled The Zoo Book: A Guide to America's Best, he ranked the Toledo Zoo's meerkat exhibit as one of the best in the country. The meerkats shared their rock kopje home with a pride of African lions. In the mid-2000s, the zoo replaced its pride with three white lion brothers (named Wisdom, Courage, and Legend) from Siegfried and Roy's cat collection. From there visitors exit the African Savanna.

Tembo Trail: Elephants of the Savanna (Formally African Savanna)
The African elephant enclosure of the African Savanna exhibit was renovated and expanded during two phases of construction. The renovated exhibit, now called "Tembo Trail: Elephants of the Savanna", opened in May 2012. The redesigned area features an enlarged enclosure for African elephant cows and a new yard for African elephant bulls. The new bull yard replaces the site that was once the Children's Zoo. The zoo currently has four African elephants, two males and two females.


The aquarium is home to 2800 individuals of 253 species. It has one of the most diverse collections of any zoo-aquarium in the United States.[citation needed] This exhibit includes African cichlids, arapaima, discus, flashlight fish, Japanese spider crabs, moon jellies, giant Pacific octopus, piranhas, and lake sturgeons. The aquarium has a "Living Reef" exhibit, with many types of corals, and a rainforest exhibit covering 2,500 square feet (230 m2) that features the two-toed sloth. The aquarium was scheduled to close in October of 2012 for renovations and is expected to re-open on March 27, 2015. The renovations will house 3000+ aquatic animals in over 178,000 gallons of water. That is nearly four times the volume of water than the previous version. The renovations took two and half years and preserved the exterior of the Works Progress Administration era structure.[8]

Arctic Encounter[edit]

The Arctic Encounter includes Wolves, seals, both gray and harbor, polar bears, both of which can be viewed both above and under water. Two waterfalls and 7 saltwater streams are featured in this exhibit.[9] There is also a gray wolf exhibit that is part of the Arctic Encounter.

The seals have a 4,000 square feet (370 m2) or land and 3,000 square feet (280 m2) of salt water. The polar bear exhibit includes 6,000 square feet (560 m2) of land and 1,600 square feet (150 m2) of water. There is a freshwater stream filled with fish during regular times. A "kids' cave" shows children and adults what it is like to be a polar bear.[9] Visitors watch through a log cabin in the wolf exhibit, which includes 4 gray wolf siblings born at the Wildlife Science Center in 2001.[10]


The aviary is one of the zoo's oldest buildings, built in 1937. After being renovated in 1998, it received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Exhibit Award for Excellence. The renovated aviary includes walk-through sections with hundreds of birds. The exhibit hatched saddle-billed storks, making Toledo Zoo one of the five zoos in the world to hatch the animal, and one of three zoos to have them live over a month. Other birds featured are burrowing owls, Cuban amazons, Cuban grassquits, green broadbills, rhinoceros hornbills, sunbitterns, and Victoria crowned pigeons.[11]

One of the bald eagles housed at the Toledo Zoo.

Bald eagles[edit]

The bald eagle exhibit is near the pedestrian bridge ramp and initially featured eagle rescue. The first inhabitants had an injured wing and a blind eye respectively.[12]

Cheetah Valley[edit]

Cheetah Valley can be viewed from an observation deck or from the fence. One female from Namibia has had several litters of cubs.[13]

Children's Zoo[edit]

The Children's Zoo is a petting zoo. The children's zoo reopened in 2006, with an "Animals A to Zoo" alphabet theme. There is a Barnyard of the Zoo section, where children can touch and learn about alpacas, chickens, a dog, goats, guinea pigs, owls, and pigs. However, this no longer exists due to the opening of Nature's Neighborhood, which is very similar.[14]

Kingdom of the Apes[edit]

In 1993, The Kingdom of the Apes first opened. Now, it holds chimpanzees, orangutans, and western lowland gorillas. The gorillas have a Gorilla Meadow, which has an area of 0.3 acres (1,200 m2). The chimpanzee and orangutan exhibits have pools in the outdoor space and climbing structures.[15]

Museum of Science[edit]

The exhibit includes two sub-exhibits, The Crawlspace and Amazing Amphibians. The Crawlspace: A World of Bugs contains over 20 species such as beetles, centipedes, cockroaches, orb-weaver spiders, scorpions, tarantulas, and stick insects.[8]

The Amazing Amphibians exhibit features over two dozen species of frogs, salamanders and caecilians, including the Kihansi spray toad, the Wyoming toad and the Japanese giant salamander. Completed in 2008, the exhibit features a nocturnal area at its entrance and biosecure rooms that enable breeding of certain species.

Penguin Beach[edit]

The Penguin Beach was built in 2014 and features African penguins. This is an outdoor exhibit that has a bridge that you can walk over and see the penguins right next to you. Also, there is an underwater viewing area to see the penguins dive.[16]

Primate Forest[edit]

The Primate Forest was built in 1998 and features Allen's swamp monkeys, colobus monkeys, Diana monkeys, Francois' langurs, and white-cheeked gibbons. There is an indoor and an outdoor exhibit, depending on the weather.[17]

Reptile House[edit]

The Reptile House, which holds many turtles, lizards, and snakes, was built in 1934 and is one of seven "reptile houses" in the world. The exhibit works to conserve the Aruba Island rattlesnake and Virgin Islands boa, which got Toledo Zoo the Conservation Award from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association´s twice: 1995 and 1998. For some time, Toledo Zoo in Ohio was the only place in the world where the Kihansi spray toad was on display to the public. But the Bronx Zoo in New York City also has several hundred Kihansi spray toads, and it opened a small exhibit in February 2010. Late in May 2013 they released the 17-foot crocodile in the Reptile House.

Snow leopards[edit]

Snow leopards are an endangered species.

Visitors can view the snow leopards through mesh netting. There are only 1000 snow leopards alive and 300 of those are in captivity. Five of that 300 were produced at Toledo Zoo.[18]

Tiger Terrace[edit]

The Tiger Terrace has Amur tigers, Asian sloth bears, and white-naped cranes. The zoo holds a female tiger, along with her two cubs.[19]

Ziems Conservatory[edit]

Built in 1904, the conservatory has many tropical plants, such as the banana, bromeliad, fern, and palm. There is a 200 flower rose garden with the climber, floribunda, hybrid tea, and grandiflora. This section also features a butterfly garden.[20]

Nature's Neighborhood[edit]

The new and improved version of the Children's Zoo. It features cats, dogs, a greater number of guinea pigs, and a variety of birds. It has an outdoor playground and a goat encounter area. It opened on June 19, 2009.


The Lights Before Christmas[edit]

The Lights Before Christmas is an annual event held by The Toledo Zoo from November 16 to December 31. Most summer attractions and exhibits are closed, but all the buildings and trees are decorated with Christmas lights. It features over one million Christmas lights, 200 animal images, ice carvings, food, carolers, model trains from the Swanton Area Railroad, and Santa Claus. An 85-foot (26 m) Norway spruce tree contains over 32,000 lights every year, which is more than the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. The main show, Dancing Lights, is near Cheetah Valley. It is repeated several times every night. It uses LED wide-angle mini lights that flash along with Christmas music.[21] All this is done using nearly 10 miles (16 km) of extension cords.[22]

Winter Weekends[edit]

Winter Weekends is an annual winter-themed event lasting from January through February. It features professional ice carving demonstrations, "Cabin Fever Feeds", musical and theatrical performances in the historic Indoor Theatre, and other special activities. Many of the outdoor animal exhibits are closed during these months, but all of the indoor exhibits remain open to the public. Zoo admission is also half-price during this event.[23]

Conservation efforts[edit]

The Toledo Zoo is a member of the Butterfly Conservation Initiative, the American Association of Zoo Keepers, the Seafood Watch program, and Coins for Conservation. The zoo also has a Green Team and recycles.[24]


External links[edit]