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Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden facts for kids

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The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
Cincinnati Zoo.jpg
Date opened 1875
Location Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Land area 65.4 acres (26.5 ha)+
Coordinates 39°08′42″N 84°30′29″W / 39.145°N 84.508°W / 39.145; -84.508
No. of animals 1,896
No. of species 500+
Annual visitors 1.2 million+
Memberships AZA, WAZA
Ocelot at Cincinnati Zoo
A Southern Brazilian ocelot asleep at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is a zoo in the American city of Cincinnati, Ohio. It claims to be the second oldest zoo in the United States because it opened 14 months after the Philadelphia Zoo.

The zoo has over 65.4 acres (26.5 ha) of land and about 2,800 animals. It has over 30 indoor and outdoor attractions. The Cincinnati Zoo also breeds rare animals. For example, it was the first zoo to breed the California sea lion and one of the first to breed the American bison both in 1878. It is the only place in the Western Hemisphere where one, two, and three Sumatran Rhinoceroses have been born.


The Cincinnati Zoo started in 1875. It covered 66 acres and was owned by some of the richest men in Cincinnati. There are currently around 500 species at the zoo with a total of around 1900 animals. There are also over 6,000 plant species shown at the zoo. The zoo is home to Indian blue peafowls that are free to walk anywhere around the zoo.


In the late 2000s, the Cincinnati Zoo was named the Greenest Zoo in America for their "go green" practices. The zoo currently has ten special garden exhibits and has over 5,000 other plant species spread throughout the zoo. In early 2010, the zoo completed their construction of over 6,000 solar canopies in the main parking lot. This is the largest display of solar panels in the world. The zoo also displays plants in the animal exhibit in which they are the correct biome for that species. For example, there are many Florida native marsh plants and shrubs in Manatee Springs; bamboo gardens in the red panda exhibits; and bushes from California in the sea lion exhibit.


Wildlife canyon and Sumatran rhinos

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Male Sumatran Rhinoceros exhibit

Since 1989, Wildlife Canyon has been showcasing rare and exotic hoofstock species that are native to many parts of the world. It currently consists of six different paddocks along the bottom of a steep canyon that was built in 1942. Visitors may walk among emus, camels, Asian wild horses, Sichuan takins, river hogs and the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros. Every Sumatran rhino that lives in the U.S. was born at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Eagle eyrie

At this attraction that opened in 1970, guests can walk into large flight cages that are home to two of some of the largest flying birds on the planet, condors and sea eagles. When visitors enter the two flight cages while being in an elevated observation deck, there is nothing that comes between the visitors and the birds. The Cincinnati Zoo is currently the only institution in North America to breed the Steller's sea eagle. Efforts to set these species free have been successful multiple times. Two eagle chicks can be seen nesting in the sea eagle flight.

Monkey island

This island is a man-made rock surrounded by a moat and exotic landscaping and provides a home for to a large troop of snow monkeys or Japanese macaques. It is over 80 years old and was one of the first bar-less monkey exhibits in North America.

Gorilla world

Susie, World's only trained Gorilla, Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati, Ohio (73382)
Susie on a postcard

Gorilla World attempts to simulate the rainforest of central Africa. It opened in 1978 as one of the first, natural gorilla exhibits in the country. The main enclosure is about a 30,000 square foot, forest habitat with many tropical plants, waterfalls, meadows, logs and vines for zoo's famous Lowland gorillas to encounter. The zoo also holds the record for having the most gorilla births in one year; six, in 1996. There are also exhibits for colobus monkeys and crowned guenons.

Rhino reserve

This whole area are is a series of eight enclosures housing a variety of African species of the Savannah, and Asian species of the forest. The rhino reserve opened in 1997.

Jungle trails

Bonobos in Jungle Trails

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 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 such as Bornean orangutans, bonobos, Müeller's and lar gibbons, bamboo, ruffed, and sifaka lemurs, Angolan colobus monkeys, aye-ayes, Francois langurs, lion-tailed macaques, pottos, pygmy slow lorises, and greater galagos that brachiate, crawl, and jump from branch to branch. In addition, Jungle Trails houses some of the zoo's birds, reptiles, insects, and other rare mammals that include lesser adjutant and saddle-billed storks, pelicans, white-naped ravens, yellow-billed hornbills, starlings, shelducks, hammerkops, cloud rats, sugar gliders, large-spotted genets, emperor scorpions, and ground boas. The attraction received the AZA prestigious exhibit award in 1994, a year after it opened. Two baby galagos and three baby large-spotted genets can be seen in the African Building.

Arctic animals

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. Next to the bears is an aviary that houses a bald eagle.

Bear Hill

The Bear Hill grottoes were built in 1937 featuring two bear species from North and South America, black bears and Andean bears. The exhibits were built on a hillside to complete their natural mountainous habitats to also keep the sun from shining light into their exhibits.


In Lorikeet Landing, a flight cage built in 1962 and renovated in 2006, is a mesh enclosed aviary filled with hundreds of birds native to Australia and New Guinea.


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Female Mexican Wolf

Guests can hike through the Wolf Woods to see animals native to North America. The area opened in 2005 after a renovation of Otter Creek.

Children's zoo

Opened in the 1950s and renovated in 1985, and 2008, the Children's Zoo is an attraction for children and young animals. The zoo's nursery features baby animals that come and go from different zoos. The young animals have the opportunity to come out of their exhibit, and walk around the zoo while being guided by keepers. The play area designed for children contains small habitats for threes species of armadillos (three-banded, six-banded, screaming hairy), and three species of tortoises (gopher, red-footed, radiated).

Children may enter the Petting Zoo and feed and interact with dwarf goats and doll sheep. Blakely's Barn, that was added in 1997, has both indoor and outdoor paddocks with close viewings of four-horned sheep, cattle, llamas, dwarf goats, miniature cows, miniature donkeys, and alpacas. At the entrance of the attraction is Penguin Walkabout that opened in 1985. Little and black-footed penguins live here.

Gibbon islands

This attraction features rare and endangered apes that can be viewed brachiating on two large jungle gyms built on two circular islands that were constructed in 1972. Guests can walk on a wooden platform that is on the surface of the lake to get an even closer look of the zoo's loudest animals, siamangs and buff-cheeked gibbons, as they can be heard from every part of the park.

Red Panda habitat

Some of the zoo's current red pandas were given to the zoo in 1985 from the Beijing Zoo. They live in two exhibits at the zoo that teems with natural plants of China. The Zoo has bred over 70 red pandas, the last one being in the early 2000s.

Elephant reserve

The exhibit Elephant Reserve, opened in 2008 after the renovation of Vanishing Giants, in an area that has been exhibiting elephants and other pachyderms since the zoo's opening in 1875. The main feature of the exhibit is a 1.5 acre female habitat showcasing the zoo's stars, Schottzie, Mai-Thai, and Jati. The exhibit includes a 60,000 gallon pool that is next to one of the many viewing areas. Sabu, the bull, has his own habitat that was added in the year 2006.

Swan lake

Swan Lake is the largest body of water at the zoo, giving a home to native waterfowl of Cincinnati. Many species like mallards, pintails, and swans are free to inhabit the lake as they please as the historic train also circles around them. Along the end of the lake is Crane Island, home to a Japanese species called red-crowned cranes. Wetland Trails is an area, giving an all natural, naturally enclosed habitat to a sandhill crane.



Reptile House, built in 1875

The Reptile House is America's oldest existing zoo building. Visitors can see a variety of monitors, pythons, mambas, tortoises, and even frogs and salamanders behind glass. There is an open-topped exhibit in the center of the building where alligators and sliders co-exist.

Night-time animals

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Eurasian eagle owl at the Cincinnati Zoo

This includes an eagle owl, vampire bats, and giant fruit bats. There are cat species like endangered Pallas' cats, clouded leopards, Brazilian ocelots, black-footed cats, sand cats, a caracal, fishing cats, and bobcats. There are dog and cat like species like fossas, aardwolves, palm civets, bearcats, tayras, bat-eared, and fennec foxes. Here also lives rare primates like pottos, and greater bushbabies. Aardvarks and a Burmese python are also displayed


World of the Insect, or the Insectarium has the widest collection of six-legged species:

  • Ants: Bullet Ant, Leaf-cutting ant, Big-headed Ant, Velvet Ant.
  • Beetles: American Burying Beetle, Blue Death Feigning Beetle, Red-lined Darkling Beetle, Emerald beetle, Flamboyant flower beetle, Hercules beetle, Magnificent Flower Beetle, Jade-Headed Buffalo Beetle, Sunburst diving beetle, Taxi-Cab Beetle, Tin-Foil Beetle, Yellow-bellied beetle.
  • Cockroaches: Bat Cave cockroach, Green-Leaf Cockroach, Madagascar hissing cockroach, Zebra Bug.
  • Grasshoppers: Eastern Lubber Grasshopper, Grey Bird Grasshopper.
  • Scorpions: East African Whipscorpion, Emperor scorpion, Giant desert hairy scorpion, Vinegaroon, Water Scorpion.
  • Spiders: Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater, Brown recluse spider, Cave Whip Spider, Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula, Goliath bird-eater Tarantula, Golden Silk-spider, Mexican Red-knee Tarantula, Togo Starburst Tarantula
  • Walking Sticks: Australian Walking Stick, Giant Jumping Stick, Giant Walking Stick, Giant Spiny Stick Insect.
  • Other Various Invertebrates: Giant African Millipede, Giant Water Bug, Giant Spiny leaf insect, Honeybee, Malayan leaf Katydid, Red-Eyed Assassin Bug, Tri-Colored Backswimmer, White-eyed assassin bug, Water Strider.

Monitor lizards

Monitor lizards from the smallest to the longest, and the largest in the world. Guests may observe dwarf, green, quince, and crocodile monitors. In the largest enclosure of the complex lives the star of the attraction Hudo, a Komodo dragon. Each indoor exhibit is glass-enclosed and are full of real plant life and branches. Outdoor viewing for the Komodo dragon is available near the exit of the building.

Tropical swamp life

Built in 1999, based on the Everglades, Manatee Springs houses many different species of wildlife from the swamps of Florida. The first section of the building is a greenhouse that simulates the sights and sounds of a freshwater swamp, tropical hammock and coastal wetland mangrove wetlands. American alligators, American crocodiles, and Florida cooter turtles can be observed in a series of water/land exhibits all with an underwater viewing. This includes a bridge constructed over a deep pool where zoo visitors may walk on as an alligator snapping turtle lies directly beneath it.

  • The River of Grass are glass-cased displays containing species that hide within the tall swampy grass.
  • Knight anoles, and golden silk spiders.
  • The Florida Biodiversity section features glass, wall exhibits that show guests the importance of almost unknown species.
  • timber rattlesnakes, green anoles, basslet fish, Florida decorated crabs, margarita snails, peppermint shrimp, turbo snails, royal coral shrimp, scarlet hermit crabs, southern copperheads, mangrove water snakes, loggerhead musk turtles, western mosquitofish, and eastern water dogs.
  • The Manatee exhibit is a 120,000 gallon tank that gives visitors a dramatic close-up viewing with Wooten, and Betsy, the rare Florida manatees.
  • Other species include: Alligator gars, chain pickerels, channel catfish, crass carp, Florida gars, Florida softshell turtles, longnose, and spotted gars.
  • The Infamous Alien Invaders tank provides an above and underwater look of plant and animal life that were introduced into Florida ecosystems.
  • Azureus cichlids, Banded dwarf cichlids, green severums, oscar fish, Mozambique tilapia red devil cichlids, and red-eyed piranhas.
  • In the Discovery Area, visitors are encouraged to investigate the skeletal features of the Florida manatee and to see a sampling of species that contribute to Florida's diversity.
  • Palmetto Scrub is one large co-existing snake exhibit that provides warm surfaces areas that encourages the animals to stay out in the open for viewing.
  • Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, corn, yellow rat, and Everglades rat snakes.


Over 50 species of birds, and displays that provide habitats as natural as the outdoors. Birds from the Amazon all the way to the Antarctic Coast are displayed. Guests can see owls, macaws, bird-of-paradises, hornbills, parakeets, auklets, puffins and even three species of penguins. Seeing opportunities for zoo visitors as such include two walk-though aviaries, open-fronted habitats, and species behind glass with underwater viewings.

  • The Outdoor Habitats include an open-topped island and a mesh wired covered aviary connected to building, greeting the visitors as they enter.
  • Barred owl, crested screamers, blue-and-gold and blue-throated macaws.
  • The Amazon is a large, natural greenhouse with an obstructed scenery home to free-flying species native to South America. Guests can walk-through the aviary and view the animals from a tall boardwalk looking over a foggy setting.
  • Elegant crested tinamous, golden conures, guira cuckoos, matamata turtles, northern helmeted curassows, northern lapwings, opal-rumped tanagers, paradise tanagers, red-capped cardinals, red-rumped caciques, red shovelers, saffron finches, scarlet ibises, southern screamers, sunbitterns, and yellow-rumped caciques.
  • Australasia is a walk-though atrium home to birds of New Guinea and Australia. Before entering the aviary, guests will notice a separate display for the beautiful Raggiana bird-of-paradise. Awaiting the visitors are giant fruit bats that hang from the ceiling, and a rhinoceros hornbill that lives in its own habitat.
  • Other species include Asian fairy bluebirds, Bali mynahs, black-collored fruit pigeons, blue-crowned laughing thrushes, jambu fruit doves, Nicobar pigeons, ornate fruit doves, Victoria crowned pigeons, white-throated ground doves, and white-naped pheasant pigeons.
  • The Montane display is an open-fronted habitat that is surrounded by a rocky environment representing species who dwell in highland areas.
  • Masked bobwhite quails and thick-billed parrots live here.
  • The Grasslands exhibit resembles the natural life-style of birds that roam in the African Savannah.
  • Black-winged red bishops, blue-breasted kingfishers, blue-naped mousebirds, buff-crested bustards, golden-breasted starling, northern carmine bee-eaters, and violet-backed starlings live here.
  • The Wetlands represents a simulated subset of a marsh swamp native with North American species.  :*Double-crested cormorants, tri-colored herons, ruddy ducks, red-bellied, and peninsula cooters.
  • The Song Bird Exhibits are two darkened displays with the animals behind glass featuring species home to New Guinea and Australian species.
  • Bourke's parakeets, red-flanked lorikeets, scarlet-chested parrots, and gouldian finches.
  • The Arctic Islands is a display that simulates the natural, rocky shores of the Arctic lands. The exhibit also features an automatic wave machine to simulate the waters that constantly crash into the rocks.
  • Crested auklets, harlequin ducks, least auklets, smews, spectacled eiders, and whiskered auklets.
  • The Arctic Sea Cliff display is a well obstructed display surrounding Arctic birds with a large vertical cliff with nests for breeding, and even a deep pool with underwater viewing for guests.
  • Common murres, harlequin ducks, horned puffins, pigeon guillemots, and spectacled eiders.
  • The Sub-antarctic Coast is a long, cold-weathered display home to birds native to the southern most parts of South America and the coasts of Antarctica.
  • Black-faced ibis, Chiloe wigeons, blue-eyed cormorants, Inca terns, king penguins, Magellanic penguins and southern rockhopper penguins.


Discovery Forest is a 4,500-square-foot tropical rainforest in a unique, two-story circular atrium. The setting is a tropical Latin American rainforest, incorporating interpretive elements from throughout Central and South America. In 2008, several neotropical animals like a two-toed sloth, a blue-and-gold macaw, and boa constrictors were added to emphasize the relationship between plants and animals.

The future


Cheetah Run
An adult South African cheetah running at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

Africa will be the largest animal exhibit in the Zoo's history, planned to be nearly 8-acres big and at a cost of $32,000,000.

In Phase IV, the zoo will add the largest part of the future attraction, a wide Savannah teeming with some of Africa's most spectacular hoof-stock such as zebras, gazelles, and elands. Along with some of the world's largest birds like ostriches, Marabou storks and grey-crowned cranes. This phase will be open in 2014.

The final phase will bring Nile hippos and crocodiles. The hippo area will give visitors a view above and below-water. In addition, this phase will include Nile crocodiles and possibly African wild dogs. This last area will open in 2015.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Jardín botánico y zoo de Cincinnati para niños

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