Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Down in a valley, multiple worlds away from downtown, sits the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. More than 3,000 animals live here, spread over 183 rolling, wooded acres. It’s a big place with a natural feel (minus the paved walking paths and ice cream stands, of course.)
The zoo features one of the largest primate collections in North America. For the zoologically-challenged, that’s apes and monkeys. Oh, and humans, too. The school-age ones are particularly cute.
Cleveland’s zoo is pretty progressive. By 1910, it had started building exhibits where monkeys, bears and other animals could roam free outside of cages. In 2012, it pushed the exhibit envelope again by opening the $25 million African Elephant Crossing. Five elephants live in the five-acre habitat. With ponds for swimming, a waterfall, sand and mud pits, and boulders for scratching, the exhibit is as close to Africa as visitors will get in the Midwest.
The zoo’s two-story indoor RainForest is an especially popular stop in the winter. It’s always 80 degrees inside where visitors will find more than 10,000 plants and 600+ animals from Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Other zoo highlights include a lorikeet aviary where visitors can hand-feed nectar to the rainbow colored birds and The Center for Zoological Medicine where they can learn about veterinary care and potentially stumble onto a treatment in progress.
Add to that, the Circle of Wildlife Carousel features more than 60 creatures hand-carved by Ohio artists. Last one on gets the dung beetle chariot!