Last weekend our family visited the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. We have a membership to the Akron Zoo, and because the Cleveland Zoo is part of the reciprocal program, we were able to visit for half off the typical admittance price. Score!
The African Elephant Crossing Exhibit
Right as we walked into the zoo we saw the elephant attraction. The zoo did an amazing job with this exhibit, and the placement at the front of the zoo makes for a grand entrance. We got to see four elephants, three on one side and one on the other side of the enclosure.
I especially liked that there were plenty of good viewing areas surrounding the enclosure for guests to observe the elephants. We got to see them eating hay, carrying large sticks and tossing dirt on their backs with their trunks.
Throughout the day there are scheduled “Elephant Crossings.” During these times the zookeepers open a gate between the two enclosures and allow one of the elephants to cross to the other side. We observed one of the crossings and found it quite fascinating.
At the start of the crossing we watched as the elephants from both sides of the enclosure walked toward the middle gate. Then the zookeepers called the three elephants in the left enclosure back to stand by the side. The elephants responded almost immediately to the zoo keepers calling and were rewarded with a treat when they reached the side.
After all three elephants on the left side were out of the way, the gates opened and the elephant on the right side crossed over the path. He was nearly running to come see his friends. It was definitely a sight to be seen. Kudos to the zoo for creating such an entertaining exhibit!
Picnic Areas and Playgrounds
While there are numerous concessions stands located throughout the zoo, we choose to bring a packed lunch instead. About half way into our visit we stopped at a picnic area tables located next to a small playground.
The picnic tables were located under a large tent which enabled us to get out of the sun for a little while. Since I’m prone to sun burns, I always appreciate shaded eating areas. We had a nice lunch and then let the kids play before heading back out to see more animals.
I love the fact that the zoo allows people to bring in outside food and drinks and also provides nice picnic tables for people to use. This simple gesture shows that the zoo understands that families want to have fun experiences, but also want to save money when doing so. Packing food is a great way to reduce the cost of your trip.
Our Favorite Animals
The zoo has over 175 different types of animals. While we enjoyed looking at all of them, there were definitely some favorites among our family. I really enjoyed the watching the giraffes, gorilla and polar bear. My daughter is particularly fond of the pink flamingos, seals and kangaroos. My son likes things that are fast, so he was eager to see the cheetah. He also liked the lion and the leopards. My husband’s favorite exhibit was the rain forest. And we all really enjoyed the Elephant crossing.
The Rain Forest
We ended our visit at the rain forest. This exhibit is particularly special to our family because my brother and sister-in-law had their wedding reception there a little over two years ago. This was the first time we had been back since their big day and it was fun to reminisce as we walked around.
There are lots of things to see in the rain forest, all sorts of plants, a wide variety of snakes and frogs, porcupines, an ant eater, and much more. I really like the two story water fall located at the entrance.
In total we spend about 4 ½ hours touring the zoo and rain forest, and had a great experience. If you’ve never been to the Cleveland Zoo you should definitely consider going this summer.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo & Rainforest
3900 Wildlife Way Cleveland Ohio 44109
Preparing for Your Trip
- If you have young children, you’ll definitely need a stroller. The zoo is large and there is a lot of walking. Bring along your own strollers or rent one at the main entrance.
- There is also a FREE ZooTram service available that will pick you up and drop you off at various locations throughout the park. While we didn’t use the tram, it may be something you want to consider if you don’t want to walk the entire zoo grounds.
- Because you’ll be doing a lot of walking, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. I also read that changing into a new pair of sock half way through your visit will help reduce foot pain. I’ve never tried it, but you may want to bring an extra pair just in case.
- Plan your meals. Will you be there during lunch or dinner? If so, do you intend to purchase food from the many concession stands, or will you pack your own from home. You may even want to take advantage of the Kids Eat FREE deals offered by area restaurants.
- You’ll burn up energy fast walking around the zoo, so pack some snack items like pretzels, fruit, or granola bars.
- Don’t forget about drinks. This is especially important during the hot summer months. Reusable bottles are a great because they can be easily refilled at one of the zoo’s drinking fountains.
Has anyone been to the Cleveland Zoo recently? If so, what are your favorite exhibits?