Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks ZooSara LiptakCleveland Metroparks Zoo

The Cleveland neighborhood of Old Brooklyn is home to one of the most family-friendly attractions in the city: The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

“Last year [2015], we had 503,649 [visitors] in the months of June, July and August,” explains Rick Haase, director of communications for Cleveland Metroparks.

The latest exhibit to open at the zoo is a $5.1 million tiger exhibit, which is five times the size of the former tiger exhibit.

“Rosebrough Tiger passage is our first new exhibit at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo since 2011,” Haase notes. “It will house our Siberian Amur tigers. It is an enhancement that will feature lots of glass.”

Haase says the exhibit will give visitors an improved experience and allow them to have a closer look at the animals. The structure of the exhibit allows the animals to cross above visiting patrons.

And, the new exhibit brings a little bit of the Old Brooklyn community to the tigers. Jeff Verespej, executive director of Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, explains that old utility and telephone poles recycled from the neighborhood are climbing toys for the tigers.

“We knew about the new exhibit coming, and the neighborhood had a lot of old, but good [utility] poles left over from the Pearl Road construction,” he says. “So we decided to give them to the zoo for the tigers.”

Verespej says Christopher Kuhar, Ph.D., the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s executive director, spent five years in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. His visit had an influence on Cleveland's zoo, which he’s been able to develop into the exciting experience that it gives visitors today.

“While there, I focused on behavior research, as well as the evaluation of conservation programs and the interface between the animal experience and business metrics,” Kuhar notes.

“Cleveland Metroparks Zoo already had a very successful animal behavior research program,” he adds. “I've tried to bring the program evaluation piece to Cleveland, and we have put a great deal of effort into evaluating the impact of our conservation education programs and our field conservation programs.”

Haase adds that visiting the zoo is fun and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is one of the leading zoos in the county with amenities and activities for people of all ages.

In 1882, The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo began as Wade Park near Wade Oval in Cleveland’s University Circle. In 1907, Cleveland City Council made plans to build the Cleveland Museum of Art and also move the zoo to its current location in Old Brooklyn.

The animals were mainly of local origin. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History assumed control in 1940, when the zoo established Monkey Island and Sea Lion Pools.

In 1968, the City of Cleveland transferred ownership of the zoo to the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District and in 1975, the Cleveland Zoological Society transferred management of the zoo to Cleveland Metroparks, which continues to manage it today.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The cost of admission for adults is $14.25; seniors (62 and older), $12.25; juniors, between the ages of 2 and 11, $10.25; and anyone under the age of 2 is free.

On Mondays, the zoo, not including the RainForest, is free to residents of Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township.