Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

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Cincinnati Zoo
Cincinnati Zoo.jpg
Date opened1875[1]
Location3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Coordinates39°08′42″N 84°30′29″W / 39.145°N 84.508°W / 39.145; -84.508Coordinates: 39°08′42″N 84°30′29″W / 39.145°N 84.508°W / 39.145; -84.508
Land area75 acres (30 ha)[2]
No. of animals1,896
No. of species500+[1]
Annual visitors1.2 million+[1]
MembershipsAZA,[3] WAZA[4]

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is the sixth-oldest zoo in the United States, opening in 1873, after the Roger Williams Park Zoo (1872). It is located in the Avondale neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. It originally began with 64.5 acres (26.5 ha) in the middle of the city, but has spread into the neighboring blocks and several reserves in Cincinnati's outer suburbs. It was appointed as a National Historic Landmark in 1987.[1][5]

The zoo houses over 500 animals and 3,000 plant species. In addition, the zoo also has conducted several breeding programs in its history, and was the first to successfully breed California sea lions. In 1986, the Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) was created to further the zoo's goal of conservation.[1] The zoo is known for being the home of Martha, the last living passenger pigeon,[5] and to Incas, the last living Carolina parakeet.[6]

The zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA),[3] and a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).[4]

A 2014 ranking of the nations's best zoos by USA Today based on data provided by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums lists the Cincinnati Zoo among the best in the country.[7] A 2019 reader's choice ranking of the nation's best zoos by USA Today named the Cincinnati Zoo the top zoo in North America.[8]


An adult South African cheetah running at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
Reptile House, built in 1875

In 1872, three years before the zoo's creation, Andrew Erkenbrecher and several other residents created the Society for the Acclimatization of Birds in Cincinnati to acquire insect-eating birds to control a severe outbreak of caterpillars. A collection of approximately 1,000 birds imported from Europe in 1872 was housed in Burnet Woods before being released. In 1873, members of the Society of Acclimatization began discussing the idea of starting a zoo and founded The Zoological Society of Cincinnati.[9] One year later, the Zoological Society of Cincinnati purchased a 99-year lease on sixty-five acres in the cow pasture known as Blakely Woods.[10]

The Cincinnati Zoological Gardens officially opened its doors on September 18, 1875. Architect James W. McLaughlin, who constructed the zoo's first buildings, designed the earliest completed zoological exhibits in the United States.[11] The zoo began with eight monkeys, two grizzly bears, three white-tailed deer, six raccoons, two elk, a buffalo, a laughing hyena, a tiger, an American alligator, a circus elephant, and over four hundred birds, including a talking crow.[1] The first guide book about the Cincinnati Zoo was written in 1876 in German. The founders of the zoo, including its first general manager, were German immigrants and the city had quite a large German-speaking population. The first English-language edition (illustrated) was published in 1893.[12]

In its first 20 years, the zoo experienced many financial difficulties, and despite selling 22 acres (8.9 ha) to pay off debt in 1886, it went into receivership in 1898. In order to prevent the zoo from being liquidated, the stockholders chose to give up their interests of the $225,000 they originally invested.[9] For the next two years, the zoo was run under the Cincinnati Zoological Company as a business. In 1901, the Cincinnati Traction Company, purchased the zoo, hoping to use it as a way to market itself to potential customers.[13] They operated the zoo until 1917, when the Cincinnati Zoological Park Association, funded by donations from philanthropists Mary Emery and Anna Sinton Taft and a wave of public desire to purchase the increasing popular zoo, took over management. In 1932, the city purchased the zoo and started to run it through the Board of Park Commissioners. This marked the zoo's transition from its period of financial insecurity to its modern state of stable growth and fiscal stability.[9]

In addition to its live animal exhibits, the zoo houses refreshments stands, a dance hall, roads, walkways, and picnic grounds. Between 1920 and 1972, the Cincinnati Summer Opera performed in an open-air pavilion and were broadcast by NBC radio.

In 1987, parts of the zoo were designated as a National Historic Landmark, the Cincinnati Zoo Historic Structures, due to their significant architecture featured in the Elephant House, the Reptile House, and the Passenger Pigeon Memorial.

Animals and exhibits[edit]

A southern Brazilian ocelot asleep at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Marge Schott/Unnewehr Elephant Reserve[edit]

The Herbivora building was constructed in 1906 at the huge sum, for then, of $50,000. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, it is considered one of the most spectacular historic buildings in the zoo world. Originally designed for hoofed animals it was at 150' long and 75' high, the largest and most complete concrete animal building in the world. It has since undergone several renovations and is now the Elephant House. In the year 2000, the whole attraction became Vanishing Giants, featuring a Masai giraffe, Lisala Li an Okapi, and the elephants the zoo has today. In 2007–2008, the giraffe and okapi yards were renovated into a food court area and the giraffe moved to The Wilds and the okapi went to the zoo's Rhino Reserve where she sired one offspring and then later died in 2010.

Elephant Reserve is home to two subspecies of the Asian elephant in 4 acres (largest exhibit at the zoo until Africa is complete) including a 60,000 gallon pool in the female yard. The zoo has been trying to breed the two by putting Jati in Sabu's yard, but they never have mated since around 1995. The last elephant born at the zoo was on March 15, 1998, his name was Ganesh, he was born from Jati and Sabu. The zoo didn't have the right space for a bull and a baby so they transferred Ganesh to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 2003 where he then died of a herpes virus in 2005. Sabu was first transferred to the Louisville Zoo and then to the Dickerson Park Zoo and returned to the Cincy Zoo in fall 2007 and kept inside until August 2008.

P&G Discovery Forest[edit]

Renovated in 1989, this classroom, located near the Education Center, has seating for the public near animal holding areas. Live animal demonstrations for school groups and Zoo visitors are presented regularly during the summer. In 1989 it was called the Frisch's Discovery Center until it was added on to become a 4,500 square foot atrium Discovery Forest in 2008, and animal exhibits so visitors could see. See either animals in an enclosed, open-aired, surrounded by water, or an animal on a tree surrounded by nothing but guests and small foliage.

Roo Valley[edit]

Roo Valley features the Zoo's first-ever kangaroo walkabout and the largest outdoor little blue penguin habitat. Used to be The Wildlife Canyon and displayed rare hoof stock including the Sumatran Rhinoceros.

Eagle Eyrie[edit]

This flight cage opened in 1970, it is 72 feet high, 140 feet long, and 50 feet wide, and opened as one of the largest flight cages of its time, and it contained Bald eagles. The exhibit features an observation deck that is actually inside the flight cage, so nothing can come between the visitor and the raptors.

Reptile House[edit]

The oldest American zoo building, the Reptile House was built in 1875 in Turkish style and is a National Historic Landmark. It was one of the Zoo's original buildings that first housed monkeys and other primates until 1951. The primate collection included Suzie, the world's first trained gorilla. It is now home to the over 30 reptile species from around the world. A black rat snake and a Yucatán Neotropical Rattlesnake was born in early 2010. Along with two pancake tortoises that hatched in 2010 and 6 baby Galapagos tortoises that the acquired in 2009. By the summer of 2012, the Galapagos tortoises will have their own outdoor exhibit behind the Reptile House. As for the building, the roof will be painted its original color, red.

Indoor Exhibits

Outdoor Exhibits Continued:

(Former Monkey Island with Japanese macaques)

Gorilla World[edit]

Opened in 1978 as a naturalistic, rain forest habitat for the Cincinnati Zoo's popular gorillas. The Cincinnati Zoo leads the country in gorilla births with 48. Bakari was the last gorilla born at the zoo in 2006. The zoo holds the record for having 6 gorilla births in one year in 1995. Because of these accomplishments, the Cincinnati Zoo has earned the name from Newsweek, the Sexiest Zoo in America. Rosie, a gorilla formerly at the zoo (Henry Doorly Zoo), gave birth to the world's first test-tube gorilla named Timu in October 1995. Samantha, a gorilla at the zoo today, was the second gorilla born at the zoo just 8 months after Sam in 1970 and is one of the oldest gorillas in captivity. The oldest one in captivity is a female named Colo at the Columbus Zoo. The zoo recently announced that they received Asha, a nine-year-old gorilla from the Gladys Porter Zoo, she arrived on October 13, 2011, but she will remain off exhibit until spring 2012. Anju, a 10-year-old female gorilla from the Pittsburgh Zoo is scheduled to arrive next spring. The zoo will introduce these two females to Jomo, one of the zoo's silverbacks. All of the females that are at the zoo now are considered over represented in captivity, so none of them will breed with Jomo. Madge and Shanta, two of the zoo's many females, left to the Dallas Zoo on November 8, 2011. In the spring of 2012, a mother and son pair, Muke and Bakari will leave to the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Night Hunters[edit]

Opened in 1952 as the Carnivora Building and renovated in 1985 as the Cat House and then renovated again in 2010–2011. This is the newest attraction at the zoo, and it is home to many nocturnal and predatory animals from former exhibits around the zoo. There are 12 animals from the Cat House, 8 from the Nocturnal House, 2 from Jungle Trails, 1 from the Reptile House and 3 animals from different zoos. A tayra was born at the zoo on May 24, 2011, the Cincinnati Zoo is the only place in the U.S. breeding tayras. A Pallas' cat at the Zoo gave birth to the world's first Pallas' cat kittens born from Artificial Insemination on June 8, 2011. Around late 2011, the zoo will begin breeding clouded leopards using Artificial Insemination. Also a Bearcat was born from Hank and Audrey at the zoo on June 2, 2011.

One outdoor exhibit

Cat Canyon[edit]

Cat Canyon is encompass and link up the new Night Hunters experience (opened in May 2011) with the former Tiger Canyon area and include new exhibits for cougars, tigers, and snow leopards. (The cougar exhibit actually opened already.) Cat Canyon provides an exciting, sensory adventure into the world of our great predators, the wild cats, while strengthening the Zoo's commitment to the conservation of threatened species through education and scientific research in the wild and at the Zoo. A rushing waterfall greets you as you begin your trek along the wooded Cat Canyon trail. You first come upon the Night Hunters building; enter to journey through the wild at night and discover nocturnal predators, if you dare. As you exit Night Hunters and step back into the light of day, you may feel a sense of relief and safety. Never forget, however, that a whole new cast of characters hunts by day. Look up as you approach the glass-fronted cougar exhibit and you may see America's great cat peering down at you from the rocks above. During an Animal Encounter, watch as the two brothers, Joseph and Tecumseh, show off their powerful jumping skills. Come face to face and hand to paw with these impressive predators as they sidle up to the glass. Continue along the path, through the mist, and around the bend to enter the realm of the tiger. Several open air and glass-fronted viewing opportunities of the new tiger enclosures provide different perspectives from above and on ground level. Keep your eyes and ears trained for tiger clues as you make your way toward the main viewing shelter. Watch the tigers patrol their territory or take a relaxing soak in their pool. Learn about the important role of the tiger as a large predator in nature and the conservation efforts the Zoo supports to save Malayan tigers in the wild. The last stop along the Cat Canyon trail is a brand new, outdoor exhibit where the snow leopard roams. Perhaps lounging on a rocky ledge, do not let the snow leopard fool you. It quite easily and expertly climbs and navigates the mountainside. Try out your own climbing skills to see how you would fare as a snow leopard.

World of the Insect[edit]

Opened in 1978, this is the largest building in North America devoted to the display of live insects. The Cincinnati Zoo has been given four awards by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association for successful propagation of insects, and Insect World received the prized American Zoo and Aquarium Association exhibit award in 1979. This building also features the longest ant exhibit in the world.


This building features 5 of some of the longest, smallest, and the most colorful monitor lizards ranging from Southeast Asia and Australia. Chia-Chia, a male Giant panda from the London Zoo, stayed in this building for 6 weeks in 1988 before it was later renovated in 1990. The zoo then attained the largest Komodo dragon to ever live in captivity in the Western Hemisphere named Naga. Naga was a male died in 2007 of an abdominal infection at the age of 24, he sired 32 offspring. Naga was 9 ft and weighed 200 lbs at his prime and 9 ft 160 lbs when he died. He was a gift from George H. W. Bush who got it from the Indonesian Government. The Cincinnati Zoo was the second U.S. zoo to exhibit Komodo dragons and the second zoo to breed them outside of Indonesia. The enclosure then held a Giant anteater, a Red-legged Seriema, Golden-lion tamarins and various tropical birds, until it was renovated in 2009 and opened in June 2010. Three green tree monitors hatched at the zoo on June 2 and 3 of 2011, but the offspring are currently not on display. Hudo, the current Komodo dragon at the zoo, has two beautiful indoor and outdoor exhibits.

Lemur Lookout[edit]

This open-aired exhibit was built in 1962 as Baboon Island and renovated Ibex Island. It allows guests to look down at some of the zoo's lemurs on a 30 ft tall, mad-made rock with many lush and shady areas, surrounded by a small stream. The Cincinnati Zoo is the lemur capital of North America with three species and eight total lemurs.

Otto M. Buddig Manatee Springs[edit]

Manatee Springs, a $4,500,000 attraction, opened on May 21, 1999 and was awarded the Munson Aquatic Conservation Exhibitry Award and a Significant Achievement Exhibit Award from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in 2000. The sights, sounds and smells of Florida greet visitors as they enter Manatee Springs. Close-up viewing on both dry land, as well as dramatic underwater viewing of over 45 magnificent species provide an exciting experience for every Zoo visitor. Manatee Springs facilities include a greenhouse (304 m2) and an exhibit building (1035 m2). The entire facility (1339 m2) includes 171 m2 (1,900 ft²) of staff and support areas and 369m² (4,100 ft²) of filtration equipment space on two levels. The manatee tank is 120,000 gallons with 3 viewing areas including a bubble window. Illusion, one of the zoo's manatees was freed into the wild down in Florida on November 9. She was 8th manatee to be freed into the wild from the Cincinnati Zoo. As Guests enter through sliding doors into a medium-sized but very hot and humid greenhouse.

As guests enter into the next section - normal room environment

Siegfried and Roy's White Lions of Timbavati[edit]

This exhibit opened as Big Cat Canyon in 1975, containing three 1-year old White tigers. In February and in August 1988, the Zoo attained rare African White Lion cubs donated to the zoo by Siegfried and Roy. These lions successfully bred four offspring in April 2001 and they are on display today. To view them, walk over the Canyon bridge to view the lions unobstructed in a natural setting. As of 2021, Gracious is the only surviving white lioness at 20 years old.

Rhino Reserve[edit]

Built in 1935 as the African Veldt, with large hoofed, and other animals like Zebras, Elands and African birds, Blesboks, Ostriches and Hippos, then in 1997 it became Rhino Reserve. This area is home to Flamingo Cove where over 20 flamingos yelp and walk through the water all day. Nikki had a miscarriage in October 2010, but she made history, she was the first Indian rhino to be impregnated from Artificial Insemination. Kuvua (an okapi) is pregnant, and she will give birth around December 2012. The bongos Safi and Mac gave birth to a beautiful girl named Luna on February 14, 2010. Flamingo chicks hatched in July 2011 but they are not on exhibit. Zebras Lainey Lynn and Shewa gave birth to Marty on August 24, 2009. The zoo doesn't currently have a Black Rhino baby but they do rank as a U.S. leader in breeding Black rhinos with 18 births.

Spaulding Children's Zoo[edit]

Renovated in 1984–1985, 55,000 square feet of exhibits that feature rare cousins of common barnyard animals, animals of the eastern U.S. woodlands, and animals of the southwestern U.S. desert. There is a nursery where guests can see either babies born at the zoo or babies that came to the zoo. The baby animals are trained to be able to come out of their exhibit, and interact with keepers and guests. Every year the collection is different, so come and see the cutest animals at the zoo before they leave. Kids can pet tortoises and armadillos, swing like a gibbon, move like a potto, jump like a leopard and even howl with the wolves in the new and improved playground. Volunteers and keepers bring a certain harmless animal out everyday for guests to be able to touch, and learn more about them. Lucy, a 5-year old bearcat also is another mascot for the Cincinnati Bearcats football team, and she goes to every home game. Which can be located not far away at Nippert Stadium. Animal Ambassador Center (Formerly known as the Nursery, though it still acts as such)

Continue outdoor exhibits

Gibbon Islands[edit]

Completed in 1972, Gibbon Islands occupies the former location of the old Opera Pavilion. (From 1920 to 1971, the Cincinnati Zoo was home to the Cincinnati Opera Summer Festival.) These two islands are surrounded by water that flows from Swan Lake. Bamboo exercise bars are the stage for gibbon who entertain visitors with their acrobatic antics and loud whooping calls while climbing on their giant jungle gyms.

Red Panda Habitat[edit]

This naturalistic woodland landscape includes many unusual Chinese plant species to simulate the natural forest habitat of the red panda that opened in 1985. One pair of red pandas was is a gift to the Cincinnati Zoo from the Beijing Zoo in China . These lavish exhibits are opened aired, that are both connected by a small flowing stream under low elevated bridge. It also provides many tall trees for the 5 pandas to relax and sleep on. The zoo recently announced that they will obtain a male on November 9 from the Houston Zoo, so he could mate with the females at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Swan Lake[edit]

This big body of water takes up a lot of the zoo's ground, in the early zoo days, when the animals passed away, they would throw their carcass' into the lake, the Elephant skull in Jungle Trails was recovered from the lake. The Cincinnati Zoo was the first place to exhibit and breed trumpeter swans.

African Penguin Point[edit]

“African Penguin Point was funded through the Zoo’s More Home to Roam capital campaign, which aims to give animals more space and to improve visitor experience,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard. “This habitat achieves both goals. It's is so much fun to watch the penguins walk on their new sandy beach and dive into their gigantic pool." It was supposed be a place for Pinnipeds, until a blind male California Sea Lion named Duke passed away.

Wolf Woods[edit]

Guests can hike through the Wolf Woods to see animals native to North America in the very heart of zoo. The area opened in 2005 after a renovation of Otter Creek. After another renovation in the summer of 2011, exhibits for turkeys and box turtles were taken down, making room for more information about the habitat in which other species live. The second section focuses on the conservation story of the Mexican gray wolf native to the southwestern United States. Here, a rustic, historical trapper's cabin has been converted into a Mexican wolf field research station.

Lords of the Arctic[edit]

Lords of the Arctic which opened in the year 2000, houses two species representing northern parts of the world in a 21,000 square foot attraction. The main animals in the area are the zoo's two polar bears, a male named Little One, and a female, Berit. Visitors can watch the bears swim in their one large 70,000 gallon pool that stretches between the two enclosures. There are many observation areas available for the guests, including underwater viewing, across from a moat, and even of the bears on land only with 3 inches of glass separating them from the visitors.

Jungle Trails[edit]

Jungle Trails takes visitors through a 2.5 acre naturalized rain forest habitat, teeming with rare and exotic wildlife and hundreds of plant species from Asia, South America, and Africa. Each region in the exhibit is divided by outdoor and indoor habitats with enjoyable viewing of the Zoo's collection of rare primates birds, reptiles, insects, small mammals. The attraction received the AZA prestigious exhibit award in 1994, a year after it opened.

Inside the 1st Building:

Next section is a narrow but long hallway that's disguised to look like a canopy viewing out into a jungle. The pathway acts as a slightly shaky wooden "bridge". To the right of this is a glass fronted (three viewings) exhibit for the Orangutans (during the cold months) And Gibbons (almost always in here)

Outside exhibits continue:

Inside the 2nd building

(Indoor exhibit for the Coquerel's Sifaka)

(indoor exhibit for the Bonobos)

Wings of the World[edit]



Free Flight Aviary[edit]

Dobsa Giraffe Ridge[edit]

This 27,000 square foot, $1.6 million exhibit opened on June 6, 2008 and is also a favorite, mainly because it allows guests to feed crackers to the giraffes on a tall elevated platform. This yard originally was home to 5 Masai Giraffes from The Wilds; the three boys were one-year old Pekua, eight-month old Mtembei, and six-month old Kimbaumbau (or Kimba) when the exhibit opened. The girls were one-year-old Tessa and 13-month old Akillah when the Giraffe Ridge opened. Pekua and Metembei later on were transferred to different zoos. Guests can view the giraffes in their indoor 2,500-square-foot stalls especially during winter.


Painted Dog Valley[edit]

Hippo Cove[edit]

Roo Valley[edit]

In August 2020, the Cincinnati Zoo finished the first part of their master plan "More Home To Roam". They turned their old wildlife canyon exhibit into an exhibit called Roo Valley, which has a new beer garden and restaurant, a big rope course over the habitat, and provides a new bigger home for their little blue penguins. Roo Valley adds five new species to the zoo as well, including the red kangaroos, western grey kangaroos, Australian wood ducks, New Zealand scaups and freckled ducks, the latter three species living side by side with the zoo's penguins.

African Penguin Point[edit]

In September 2020, the Cincinnati Zoo finished the second part of the master plan. They turned their old sea lion habitat sometimes referred to as "Seal Falls" and the home of Duke the California sea lion, into a bigger exhibit for their African penguins, increasing their breeding success rate, while at the same time including some other African sea birds like the eastern white pelicans, white-breasted cormorants, and yellow-billed ducks.

Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW)[edit]

The Cincinnati Zoo has been active in breeding animals to help save species, starting as early as 1880 with the first hatching of a trumpeter swan in a zoo, as well as four passenger pigeons. This was followed in 1882 with the first American bison born in captivity.[5]

In 1986, the zoo established the Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife for the purpose of using science and technology to understand, preserve, and propagate endangered flora and fauna and facilitate the conservation of global biodiversity.[1] Its Frozen Zoo plays a major role. In it are stored over 2,500 specimens representing approximately 60 animal and 65 plant species. Terri Roth is CREW's director.[14]

Africa exhibit[edit]

In the 2010s the zoo built a 8-acre (3.2 ha) Africa exhibit, the largest animal exhibit in its history.[15] Phases I and II, completed in 2010, added an exhibit for cranes and expanded the Cheetah Encounter yard so that the cheetahs had a 40% larger running space.[16] Phase III opened on June 29, 2013, and included a wider vista that offers visitors an opportunity to see African lions, white lions, servals, a bat-eared fox, African wild dogs, and a new cheetah exhibit.[17] A new Base Camp Café, said to be the greenest restaurant in the US, was also added in the 2013 season.[18]

Phase IV, the largest phase of the Africa expansion, opened on June 28, 2014.[19] It introduced a wide savanna with some of Africa's most spectacular hoofstock, such as zebras, gazelles, lesser kudu, impala and giant eland, along with some of the world's largest birds like ostriches, marabou storks, pink-backed pelican, Rüppell's vultures, crested guineafowl, ruddy shelducks, lappet-faced vultures, and gray crowned cranes.

Phase V, the final phase of the expansion, opened on July 23, 2016,[20] adding an area for Nile hippos, Hippo Cove, which provides both above and below-water viewing.[19] A 34-year-old male named Henry from the Dickerson Park Zoo and a 17-year-old female named Bibi from the St. Louis Zoo joined the zoo.[21] On the morning of January 24, 2017, Bibi gave birth to a six-weeks premature calf.[22] The baby female hippo, named Fiona by zoo staff, is the first hippo to be born at the zoo in 75 years. Fiona was also the first Nile hippo to ever be captured on an ultrasound image. After intensive care from zoo keepers, veterinarians, and NICU specialists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Fiona survived. The story of her trials and success made her an internet celebrity and city hero, and has dramatically increased zoo attendance.[23] Henry's health declined later in 2017 and he was euthanized on October 31.[21]

On July 17, 2017, an eastern black rhino baby, Kendi, was born to parents Faru and Seyia. Kendi's birth was captured on camera and can be viewed on the zoo's website. Curator of mammals at the zoo, Christina Gorsuch states, "This calf is only the fifth eastern black rhino born in the last two years in North America." She goes on to say "Every rhino calf born is incredibly important for the population, which includes fewer than 60 in North America. Calves will stay with their mothers for 3-4 years which means that the average female can only have one calf every 5 years."[24] In 2015, AZA and Species Survival Plan (SSP) determined that parents Faru and Seyia were a good genetic match and recommended that they breed. Faru came to Cincinnati from Atlanta in the summer of 2015 and was introduced to Seyia.

Gorilla World was further expanded in 2016–2017, including the addition of a large indoor building to allow visitors to see the gorillas throughout the year, and Mshindi, a silverback gorilla, came to the zoo from the Louisville Zoo.[25][26]

"More Home to Roam" expansion campaign[edit]

In 2018 the zoo launched an expansion campaign named "More Home to Roam" with the goal of raising $150 million to be used on developing new attractions and infrastructure.[27] The zoo plans to open Roo Valley and a beer garden in 2020, Rhino Reserve and a 1,800 vehicle parking garage in 2023, and Elephant Trek (Jabiru Junction) in 2025 for their jabirus and black-necked storks and a pool for California sea lions, grey seals, walruses, and harbor seals.[28] The plan also includes a new entrance to facilitate traffic into the zoo. The additions are also aimed at making the zoo net-zero in terms of waste, water, and energy, making the facilities waste free.[28]

Philanthropists Harry and Linda Fath contributed $50 million to the campaign in June 2018.[29] Previous expansion efforts, such as the Africa exhibit and gorilla exhibit, cost $34 million and $18 million respectively.[30]

As result on the COVID-19 pandemic, the zoo tabled its original plan to build a parking garage and bumped Elephant Trek to the top of the priority list. On June 15 2021, the Zoo Broke ground on the Biggest Habitat in Zoo History: Elephant Trek; The Elephant Trek will be five times the size of the Zoo’s current elephant habitat, is slated to open in 2024 and will eventually be home to a multi-generational herd of 8-10 Asian elephants.[31]. The exhibit will also include Gibbon’s Point & Clawed River Otter Habitat and New Picnic Shelter Complex[32]

Animals at the zoo have held several records, including the longest living American alligator in captivity at the time (at about 70 years of age),[5] the fastest cheetah in captivity,[33] and the largest Komodo dragon. The zoo was the first in the United States to put an aye-aye on display, and after losing its last aye-aye in 1993, it finally acquired another in 2011 – a six-year old transferred from the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina.[34]

The zoo is one of only a dozen in North America to house and breed bonobos (also known as pygmy chimpanzees), an endangered species of the great apes.[35]

On January 6 and 7, the zoo celebrated the birth of its first babies of 2020. Two penguin chicks hatched, one each day.[36]


Susie on a postcard

In 1931, Robert J. Sullivan permanently loaned the zoo a female eastern gorilla named Susie.[37] Captured in the Belgian Congo, Susie was first sold to a group of French explorers who sent her to France.[37] In August 1929, Susie was transported from Europe to the United States aboard the airship Graf Zeppelin accompanied by William Dressman.[37] After Susie completed a tour through the United States and Canada with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus,[38] Sullivan purchased Susie for $4,500[39] and loaned her to the zoo.[40] Dressman, who stayed on as Susie's trainer after she was loaned to the zoo, taught her how eat with a knife and fork and orchestrated two performances every day.[41] Susie was so popular that on her birthday on August 7, 1936, more than 16,000 visitors flocked to the zoo.[42] Susie remained one of the most popular animals at the zoo until her death on October 29, 1947.[43] Her body was donated to the University of Cincinnati,[39] where her skeleton remained on display until it was destroyed in a fire in 1974.[44][45]

2016 gorilla incident[edit]

On May 28, 2016, Harambe, a 17-year-old, 200-kilogram (440 lb) male western lowland gorilla, was fatally shot by zoo officials after a three-year-old boy climbed into Harambe's enclosure. The incident was recorded by a bystander and uploaded to YouTube, where the video went viral.[46] Zoo director Thane Maynard stated, "The child was being dragged around ... His head was banging on concrete. This was not a gentle thing. The child was at risk."[47][48][49] The shooting was controversial,[50] with some observers stating that it was not clear whether or not Harambe was likely to harm the child.[51][52] Others called for the boy's parents and/or the zoo to be held accountable for the gorilla's death.[53]

The boy was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after being rescued.[50] Police are investigating possible criminal charges, while the parents of the boy defended the zoo's actions.[54][55][56] The incident received global publicity; comedian and actor Ricky Gervais, rock guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May, and journalist and television personality Piers Morgan criticized the shooting,[57] while real estate developer and Presidential candidate Donald Trump and zoo director and notable animal expert Jack Hanna both lamented the shooting but defended the zoo's decision to prioritize the boy's safety.[58]


Fiona in Hippo Cove

In January 2017, the zoo had its first birth of a hippopotamus in 75 years. Named Fiona, she was born six weeks prematurely and her survival was in doubt. The zoo's efforts to save her and her subsequent improvement to good health provided a viral sensation on the internet.[59]

See also[edit]

Japanese macaques on one of the zoo's "monkey islands"


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "History, Mission, and Vision". Cincinnati Zoo. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  2. ^ Baird, David; et al. (February 17, 2009). Frommer's USA. John Wiley & Sons. p. 491. ISBN 9780470458938. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". WAZA. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d "Cincinnati Zoo". Don Prout. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
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