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.