There are multiple zoos in Ohio with each having its own unique attractions and relationship with animals. Of course, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to Jack Hanna, a world-recognized promotor of animals of all kinds, but the zoo has a long history and became famous for being the only zoo in the world where a low-land gorilla gave birth. There are also major zoos in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron and Toledo. The other major animal attraction is The Wilds located in southeast Ohio.
In a recent survey of its readers, USA Today ranked 3 of Ohio's zoos in their 10 Best Readers' Choice for Best Zoos in the U.S. This just goes to confirm the quality of Ohio's zoos and how popular they are with Ohio residents.
Officially they're a Zoological Park, but we just call them zoos and for many Americans they are the only way we can experience seeing any animals that aren't pets. Humans seem to have a deep connection with other living creatures whether they live at home or in some foreign environment. Our zoos provide that connection. Zoos provide tremendous opportunities of education and recreation for its visitors, but the zoos also provide invaluable resources for conservation so that we can help protect their natural environments.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The Columbus Zoo has been around for a long time and just continues to get bigger and better. The Columbus Zoo has had a reputation for breeding endangered animals in captivity dating back to the 1950s with the first ever birth in captivity of a lowland gorilla that became a world-wide media star. In 2014 the giraffes returned to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's new Heart of Africa exhibit that also includes lions, cheetahs, ostriches, wildebeests, gazelles to name a few of the 130 animals grazing the plains of Delaware County.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has its roots deeply rooted in the 19th Century when it first opened to the public as the Cleveland Zoological Park. In the mid 1900s the Zoological park came under the direction of the Cleveland Metroparks and since then has grown rapidly with new exhibits and new wildlife with the most recent addition the African Elephant Crossing.
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is the second oldest zoo in the United States. Today the Cincinnati Zoo is deeply involved in breeding endangered animals specifically for their preservation. The zoo is also one of only a few zoos in North America that has been able to successfully house and breed the pygmy chimpanzee, an endangered species of the great apes.
The Akron Zoo is one of the newer zoos in the state: it recently celebrated its ## anniversary. The zoo includes more than 50 acres of land with more than 700 animals, but because of its layout, you'll be able to see lots of animals without lots of walking. Besides the unique animals there's also a train ride and carousel to ride. The Akron Zoo plays an active role in several important conservation projects through funding and exhibit space.
The Toledo Zoo has more than 9,000 animals which represents over 800 species from around the world. The zoo began with a single donation in 1900. In 2014 the Toledo Zoo won USA TODAY's highest ranking for #1 Zoo in America.
The Wilds is now operating together with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to provide a unique experience to southeast Ohio where a few decades ago, the land had been stripped bare for coal and other minerals. That one barren land has now been reclaimed and and it doesn't take visitors to use much imagination to believe they're actually on a safari in Africa. The open air vehicles allow guests to see lots of animals at a distance or up close depending on the mood of the animals.
While not exactly like a zoo in the traditional sense, the African Safari Wildlife Park near Port Clinton offers visitors an up close and personal experience with a variety of animals, most of which do not want to eat you, but instead, you can feed these animals that docile enough that they won't cause you or your property any harm, but big enough to imagine that they could if the mood hit them.