As our expertise in animal care, conservation, education, and horticulture continues to grow, our habitats need to grow with it. More Home to Roam funds are being used to make better homes for animals and a better zoo for you.
At the Australian-themed Roo Valley, beneath a lush canopy of trees, Zoo guests will experience and encounter two native Australian species like never before. In the 15,000-square-foot Kangaroo Walkabout, guests will roam among the ‘roos as they hop about, play, and graze. A two-level, ADA-accessible ropes course with 50 activities will add even more adventure, while visitors can relax and view Roo Valley from “Hops”, a multi-tiered beer garden. Little blue penguins, another native Australian species, will have an innovatively designed new home as well. The Cincinnati Zoo is home to North America’s largest colony of little blue penguins, and their numbers are increasingly threatened in the wild. Their habitat will include more rocky surfaces and incorporate technology to optimize swimming time, which is beneficial for penguin foot health.
African penguins will get a home makeover, too. Endangered in the wild, their populations have dropped by 50% in the past 30 years. The new habitat will be three times the size of the current space with a dramatically larger indoor bedroom area to encourage breeding, expand nesting sites and ultimately result in a thriving colony of 30+ birds, up from the 11 we have today.
The Zoo plays an important role in the conservation of the critically endangered black rhino. We’ve bred more black rhinos than any other zoo or nature preserve in the world, and we’re committed to them long-term. Part of the new More Home to Roam expansion calls for doubling the current space for the species. Primarily solitary, rhinos can be difficult for zoos to breed. The new, more flexible and complex space will lead to more instinctive and natural interaction between male and female rhinos. Keepers are optimistic that they could even see two rhino babies born together – a rare occurrence in zoos.
Designed to be five times the size of our elephants' existing habitat, Elephant Trek will include swimming pools, streams, overhead feeding stations, mud wallows and enrichment opportunities at every turn. We envision a multi-generational herd of 8-10 elephants with bonds as strong as those formed in the wild. Elephant Trek is part of our investment in a long-term breeding program and will help secure the future for elephants at the Cincinnati Zoo. Through global partnerships, we are doing our part to rebuild elephant populations in the forests of Southeast Asia.
Click here to go on a virtual walk-through of the Elephant Trek!
An additional Zoo entry, featuring ten new ticket windows and additional queuing space, opened in 2019 and has dramatically streamlined entry into the Zoo. New amenities such as more family-style restrooms and more storage space for strollers and wheelchairs, as well as a calming room for guests with developmental disabilities, are also improving visitors’ experience.
The Zoo is the #1 attraction in Hamilton County, creating a significant economic and cultural benefit to the families in the region. Attendance growth is directly connected to the Zoo’s ability to provide access into the Zoo. An 1,800-car parking garage, featuring a new pedestrian bridge over the street and into the Zoo, will offer safe and efficient access and alleviate parking and traffic issues for neighboring businesses and residents.
As science and research give us a better understanding on how to care for and help breed polar bears, the Zoo will need to make modifications to its current Kroger Lords of the Arctic habitat. This includes creating an environment conducive to breeding, providing isolated denning opportunities for female polar bears, separate habitat areas for male and female bears and natural substrates.