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Cincinnati Zoo Review

Discussion in 'United States' started by GraysonDP, 20 Dec 2016.

  1. GraysonDP

    GraysonDP Well-Known Member

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    Cincinnati Zoo Review

    Date of Visit: August 17, 2013

    I have been to the Cincinnati Zoo twice and found it improved on my second visit, especially with the dreadful cat house gone. This is a zoo going places with a good amount of construction going on and a solid collection. However, overall I find the zoo quite incohesive and generally average when it comes to exhibit quality with a few gems and a few disasters. I would say Cincinnati belongs somewhere in the 30s when it comes to best zoos in America and would rank it fourth in my list of Ohio zoos (I have been to Columbus, Toledo and Cleveland and would put them in that order.)

    Excellent

    Jungle Trails- Easily the best part of this zoo and the most immersive section. When walking around the area, you actually feel like you are in a rainforest and the canopy is very thick evoking an elusive feeling. In the Asian part of the trail, Mueller’s gibbons live on an island exhibit with tons of vegetation, ropes and plenty of climbing opportunities. The best exhibit in the complex is the orangutan/gibbon habitat. They reside in a relatively large yard with a few talls tree for climbing, plenty of ropes, lots of thick grass, knocked over logs for climbing opportunities, lots of vegetation and a forest backdrop. It actually feels like a forest clearing and is the best orangutan exhibit I have seen even if it could use more height. Lorises live in a ruined temple exhibit.

    At the start of the African portion of the trail, saddle billed storks and pelicans share a habitat with lots of immersive features- a great pond, natural backdrops and an elephant skull/skeleton. Black and white ruffed lemurs live in a dense, lush habitat with lots of ferns and trees. Last, bonobos live in a decent sized exhibit filled with fallen over logs and a dense undergrowth. I would say it’s the third best bonobo exhibit I’ve seen after San Diego and Columbus and is quite nice. I love how natural the Jungle Trails habitats feel but it wouldn’t make my list of very best zoo complexes.

    Wolf Woods- A very good gray wolf exhibit is accompanied by the obligatory log cabin. The back of the exhibit is hard to make out and the vegetation gets thicker as you go farther back. The front part of the habitat is relatively open like a clearing. It is no Regenstein Wolf Woods (Brookfield) or Wolf Wilderness (Cleveland) but is one of the better wolf exhibits around. River otters live in a nice exhibit nearby with underwater viewing.

    Africa- I visited before Painted Dog Reserve, Hippo Cove and the meerkat exhibit opened so those will not be reviewed. The savanna had been built but no animals were in it yet. Impala, Thomson’s gazelle, lesser kudu, ostrich and a variety of birds live in a medium sized savanna that can be viewed across a river. It is nice but the grass is quite even and it is not as impressive or extensive as other savannas I have seen. A flock of flamingos lives in a nice pool nearby. A cheetah exhibit is average sized and quick green with a few trees in the middle and a stream originating from a waterfall in the front. It is quite good but not state-of-the-art. Lions live in a rocky green exhibit that is fairly nice and decently sized. It looks like it is modeled after Pride of the Plains at Sedgwick County but doesn’t work as well. The most disappointing part of the exhibit IMO is Giraffe Ridge, a quite standard yard with a few trees and an uneven mixture of sand and grass. This section has flashes of brilliance and exhibits with charm but ultimately does not transport me or the animals to Africa in the way I like to be immersed. Solid but not wow.

    Night Hunters- This exhibit takes two dying breeds (small feline houses and nocturnal houses) and blends them together in a fairly night exhibit. The inside is quite dark and the indoor exhibits for the carnivores are average to good. An impressive list of species is found here including Pallas cats, aardvarks, clouded leopards, bearcats, pottos, civets, fossas, bocats, the rare aardwolfs, vampire bats, slow loris, galagos, fruit bats, ocelots, Burmese pythons, black-footed cats, sand cats, fishing cats, caracals, bat-eared foxes and tayras. A very good netted cougar exhibit is found outside with a decent level of naturalism and good amount of climbing opportunities.

    World of the Insect- Excellent insect zoo and perhaps best of its kind.

    Manatee Springs- Manatees live in crystal clear water in an all-indoor exhibit. However, this is smaller than the habitat at Columbus.

    Dragons- Solid exhibit for the lizards from Komodo everyone loves.

    Average

    Cat Canyon- Lush but average yards for tigers and snow leopards that at their essence are glorified grottoes.

    Lemur Lookout- Your typical lemur island exhibit.

    Wings of the World- A decent aviary with a fairly good collection. However, a penguin exhibit is disappointing and has too much mock rock.

    Wildlife Canyon- Muddy yards for Bactrian camels, Preswalzki’s wild horse, red river hogs, takins and warthogs (then Sumatran rhinos.) Not bad but nothing stands out.

    Red Pandas- These animals live in a decent exhibit that is ultimately forgettable.

    Rhino Reserve- Standard, average set of paddocks. Of the habitats, Indian rhinoceros get the best of the bunch with a huge pool, decent amount of space and lots of mud for them to wallow in. However, it is ultimately a slightly above average exhibit at best. Okapis live in an average exhibit that could really use more of a canopy. Bongos live in a dry paddock that is not adapted to their forest habitat. Flamingos have a typical pool and zebras live in a dry, sterile habitat that’s nothing special. Black rhinos live in a mediocre yard lacking much immersion or character.

    Gibbon Islands- Your typical fare.

    Elephant Reserve- There are a fair share of good Asian elephant exhibits in the nation and this is not one of them. All three yards are too small and are quite bare but at least they have nice pools and trees. The complex is limited by the fact the old Elephant House is a historic building and cannot be removed.

    Poor

    Gorilla World- Substandard exhibit that became infamous this year. I don’t like moated exhibits and this one is no exception. It has some lush vegetation but basically just a smallish rectangle that’s not as modern or immersive in today’s zoo world. The facility is being renovated but it looks like the outdoor exhibit is going to stay the same, which is disappointing for a $12 million renovation. Maybe I have unrealistic standards for gorilla exhibits but for a highly intelligent social creature so closely related to humans and that has been exhibited so well by so many major zoos I feel I have the right to be picky.

    Monkey Island- Heavily outdated facility.

    Bear Grottoes- Dreadful grottos housing black bears and Andean bears are as bad as it gets. A polar bear exhibit is larger but still loaded with mockrock and basically just an enlarged grotto.

    Reptile House- The nation’s oldest zoo building that is much too small to house anything and definitely shouldn’t have alligators in the middle. It should be turned into restrooms.

    White Lions- Horribly designed exhibit with the ugliest fence around.

    Layout- I usually don’t rate nonanimal parts of zoos in my review but I absolutely hate the layout of this zoo and it really feels like a hodgepodge. Nothing is organized and everything feels crammed against each other. Complete and utter mess.
     
  2. Moebelle

    Moebelle Well-Known Member

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    As others have said, love these reviews very much. I hope one day to do the same when I visit more zoos. I'm quite shocked that you put Night Hunters on your "best" list as I would say it's in the top 5 of the most criticized exhibits on the entire site. Some changes have been made in the last few years, medium sized animals such as bat-eared foxes, and tayras have been replaced with smaller animals like armadillos and civets. While I've defended it in the past, the more I've matured the more I saw why everyone else was criticizing it and now I agree with them. The merge of the Nocturnal House and the Cat House wasn't a mistake regarding the species list but it was a mistake to keep the building almost exactly the way it was been for 30 years. I'd also like to point out that there are only two elephant yards. For the sake of others, you left out Discovery Forest, Kea Encounter, Cheetah Encounter, Sea Lion Falls, Red Pandas, and the Children's Zoo.

    Just to keep you up to date since your last visit:
    1. The pelicans in Jungle Trails were moved to the savanna in Africa
    2. The ruffed lemurs were replaced with White-faced Sakis
    3. The red river hog in Wildlife Canyon was replaced by Warty Pigs right after your visit
    4. Grass and vegetation were placed down in the bongo yard. I was never a fan of the dirt either but it was once inhabited by multiple elands.
     
  3. GraysonDP

    GraysonDP Well-Known Member

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    Ops I wrote a piece about the sea lions but forgot to post it.

    Average

    Sea Lion Falls- Borderline poor exhibit that is outdated in size and naturalism.
     
  4. GraysonDP

    GraysonDP Well-Known Member

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    As for Night Hunters maybe I overrated it but I do like the concept and the collection. Perhaps if I went again I wouldn't like it as much. Also fun fact I had zoo director Thane Maynard's sister-in-law as a teacher in elementary school.
     
  5. jibster

    jibster Well-Known Member

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    I like the concept of Night Hunters, but there isn't much done with it in terms of interpretation. Some of this is probably due to the nature of it being a nocturnal house, but the best exhibits themed around an idea like this (as opposed to taxonomic, zoogeographic, or biome themes) tend to have some more thought put into how the species are presented. And it's hard to quibble much with the collection of species on display. I am, however, surprised that you like the complex as much as you do, Grayson, given your apparent distaste for rockwork, as almost every exhibit seems plagued with an abundance of fake rock (remnants of the oft- (and justly) maligned cat house). So many of the exhibits just come off as so sterile to me that I find the entire complex rather depressing and a big miss overall. It comes off as what it was - an attempt to merge the cat house and nocturnal house with as quickly (and cheaply) as possible. A complete rethink of the building is long overdue.
     
  6. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

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    None of the exhibits I saw in Night Hunters are the best I've seen (vampire bats maybe?), but I liked it partially because nocturnal houses are just so rare nowadays and the species I got to see was a treat. Admittedly most of the enclosures are small for their inhabitants. I'd like to see them renovate it completely as well, but only if they keep it as a nocturnal exhibit.
     
  7. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    If there is a new lion exhibit in the Africa section is the white lion exhibit only planned to operate while the current animals are alive and then shut down?
     
  8. Moebelle

    Moebelle Well-Known Member

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    Originally I was told by the plan makers that the white lions were going to be moved to Africa but that was scrapped because apparently they wanted a breeding pair. I was told by a man, that was feeding the white lions, the zoo tried to give them back to the Siegfried and Roy over 10 years ago. The two declined the offer so the lions stayed. They are left with two females and are waiting for them to pass. The man also said that the black and Andean bears would be moved to this 40 year-old, but still functional yard.