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Akron Zoo Akron Zoo Review 2022

Discussion in 'United States' started by CMZman, 4 Oct 2022.

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  1. CMZman

    CMZman Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Took my first trip to Akron in close to 10 years (Last trip was 2012/13-ish) today, and since then there have been three additions to the zoo:

    • Grizzly Ridge (Which I saw, but was in it's construction phase)
    • Wild Asia
    • Pride of Africa
    I’ll be giving a breakdown of each area of the zoo and my thoughts on them.

    Legends of the Wild


    Species: Penguins, Jaguar, Lemurs, Capybara, Flamingo, Tufted Deer, Snow Leopard, Bats, Condors, Alpaca

    Today at least, this area of the zoo came off as mildly disappointing, although in no way a bad area. My guess is I just hit on a bad day, given the lack of penguins, swans, condors, and flamingos due to Aviary Flu, and just the fact today was kinda cold, so everybody was kind of hunkered down. The exhibits themselves still hold up very well, especially the Jaguar/Capybara mix. It was funny that the jag was just staring daggers at Capy, who didn’t seem to give a hoot.

    Total score: 3.5/5.

    Komodo Kingdom

    Species: Komodo Dragon, Galapagos Tortoise, Rainforest Species (Didn’t get a head count), Underwater exhibits (Again, didn’t get a head count), Green Tree Python, Bamboo Shark

    This is the exhibit that drew me back to Akron, truthfully. I love, love, love Komodo Dragons and wish they were included every time I go to Cleveland. The lizards in question have a very nice indoor exhibit, but no outdoor exhibit. The zoo currently has two Komodos, Draco and Padar (Who I believe was the one out and about).

    To the left of the Komodos, is the Galapagos Tortoise exhibit, which is standard. On their right is a RainForest streamside, which reminded me of Cleveland. The traveling exhibit is Curious Creatures, but I passed on it.

    Score: 5/5

    Wild Asia

    Species: Tiger, Red Panda, Gibbons

    The first new area of the zoo to me, and it’s a major improvement over the former tiger and gibbon exhibits (I don’t remember if they had Red Pandas before). Again, with it being slightly chilly out, nobody was all that active. I only got a glimpse of the tiger as it crossed the yard, and the Gibbons were huddled in a top corner of their indoor enclosure.

    Each animal has two exhibits, except for the Red Panda (who was contently chilling on his platform, btw). Next to Cleveland’s Asian Highlands, it’s not as good, but a definite upgrade to what was there before. My only complaint is it felt like the space taken up by the amphitheater style seating could’ve gone to the animals.

    Score: 4/5

    Prides of Africa

    Species: Lion, Speke’s Gazelle, Dwarf Goat, White Stork, Pygmy Goat

    Alright, as much as I hate to say it, this is the weakest new area of Akron. Essentially a rethemed children’s zoo (since that’s what it replaced) and a new lion habitat, which is easily the highlight of the area. Theme wise, it’s alright. While I get they had limited space to work with, I’m hoping Phase II (which they had a sign for) can improve the areas, since it was teasing giraffes.

    Score: 2/5

    Wild Prairie/Theater:

    Species: Barn Owl, Snowy Owl

    Both the Snow and Barn Owl were off exhibit (Thanks Avian Flu). I’m hopeful this becomes Africa II, since unless the birds are there, it’s pointless.

    Score: 1/5

    Grizzly Ridge:

    Species: Grizzly Bears, Red Wolves, Coyotes, Screech Owl, River Otters, Bald Eagle

    Grizzly Ridge is by far my favorite area of Akron, tying with Komodo Kingdom. The entire area is so well designed. The theme of a northern town where the animals roam worked really well in the space they had, since it didn’t feel too spaced out to lose the town feel. The only gripe I had was the aviary and Eagles were off exhibit (Again, thanks AF). Best part was by far the Otters, which were rocketing around their exhibit, and the slide was fun (Yes, I went on as an adult. Sue me).

    Score: 5/5.
     
    Last edited: 4 Oct 2022
  2. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey In the Swamp Premium Member 5+ year member

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    Thanks for the great review! I can see being disappointed in Prides of Africa, but just as a person with young kids, it may be worth noting that having a kids/petting zoo area is necessary to small/mid size zoos, or really any zoo. That said (not having been to Akron), there are ways to theme kids sections to appeal to everyone.
     
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  3. CMZman

    CMZman Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    As someone who doesn't have kids, I still liked Africa for what it was. The closer space allowed for a very effective village theme, which I liked. I felt the theming was stronger than Cleveland's Africa (Save for the Elephant and Rhino exhibits). Of course the lion exhibit was great and blew Cleveland's out of the water (since they still have a grotto type exhibit).

    The theme and lions were what gave it its score, which looking back should be a 3 instead of a 2.

    I'm sure if I was there in the summer when everybody was out and the weather was nicer it'd get a higher rating. Like I said in an earlier section of the review, I think I just hit the zoo on an off-day.
     
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  4. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey In the Swamp Premium Member 5+ year member

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    Thanks, that is great information. Akron is on my "go to" list eventually, I have a thought plan to make it to Cleveland and Akron on one trip to OH.
     
  5. TigerValley98

    TigerValley98 Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    It has to be remembered that Pride of Africa was built as a first phase. When Tiger Valley was removed, they couldn’t fit all the new habitats in that area. The big project got split into Pride of Africa and Wild Asia. I think it was always expected that both areas would be expanded later. This is a start. Tiger Valley needed removed. The reason Pride has the barnyard because the previous one was removed for Pride’s entrance. The new one has more room too. Africa will be expanded later in the decade. It will be located behind the lion habitat. Giraffes are to be an anchor. Possibly primates too.
     
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  6. CMZman

    CMZman Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Would Asia expand into Wild Prairie or are there other plans for that space? That's the only other area I can think of the Zoo has to work with. Komodo Kingdom, the Carousel, and Grizzly Ridge box it in
     
  7. TigerValley98

    TigerValley98 Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Here is a presentation by Akron Zoo President and CEO Doug Piekarz. It is really interesting. He talks about the future in it.
     
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  8. CMZman

    CMZman Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    I'm not sure how do-able both in one day would be. Maybe if you timed it *perfectly* you could hit both
     
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  9. Persephone

    Persephone Well-Known Member

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    They’re both worth visiting, but on separate days. Cleveland alone took me almost the entire time it was open to get through. Admittedly I wasted a lot of that staying outside the rain looking for a very elusive echidna, but it’s still a big zoo that can take as much time as you want to give it.
     
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  10. PSO

    PSO Well-Known Member

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    I actually did both in one day back in 2007. Akron had just opened Legends of the Wild and Cleveland at the time boasted the largest collection of species for both bears and primates (possibly macropods?). Cleveland in general had more species then they do now. I basically got to Akron when it opened and stayed at Cleveland until they ushered us out. I don't remember feeling very rushed and was taking lots of pictures too
     
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  11. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey In the Swamp Premium Member 5+ year member

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    Thanks for the tips. Honestly I would more than likely break it into two days. If time allowed I would probably stack Akron Zoo and Cleveland Aquarium on the same day and the Cleveland Zoo on another.