Have you "herd" about African Elephant Crossing, the new $25 million home for elephants at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo?
The BIG news is that starting May 5 the Zoo is kicking off summer a little early with a weekend party to celebrate the grand opening of African Elephant Crossing. There will be music, crafts, entertainment and plenty of family fun all weekend, culminating with Mother's Day on Sunday, May 8, when all moms get free admission!
Later in the month the Zoo features the return of the free-flying butterfly exhibit FLUTTER!, Professor Wylde's live animal show, Get Close animal feedings and a brand new elephant themed maze!
African Elephant Crossing
There will be a summer-long stampede of excited Zoo fans ready to check out our newest exhibit, African Elephant Crossing, because the last time the public was able to see the Zoo's elephants was in 2008.
Now the elephants are home and acclimating to a new, state-of-the-art exhibit with sprawling views, expanded night quarters, two large outdoor yards for foraging and exercise, sand pits, a deep-water swimming channel, waterfall and more.
Martika, Moshi and Jo will share the exhibit with two new elephants, female Shenga, and male Willy. A full-grown bull elephant, Willy weighs close to 13,000 pounds and stands 11-feet tall at the shoulder! He will be the largest animal to ever live at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the first male elephant since 1962. Shenga is 28 years old and comes to Cleveland from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo.
Joining the elephants will be meerkats, making their first-ever appearance at the Zoo, an African rock python, naked mole rats and an aviary full of colorful African birds.
At the Crossing itself, a series of gates control the flow of traffic -- human and elephant -- in and out of the exhibit. Visitors use the path to cross from the Welcome Plaza to the African village inside the exhibit, and elephants use it to travel between the Mopani and Savanna ranges. Visitors will get a true sense of the size of the elephants when they pass by only 15 feet away.
The exhibit also features the Sydell L. Miller Elephant Care & Visitor Center, where people can see some of the daily care the Zoo's elephants receive, including training sessions at the new "working wall."
Through educational displays and interpretive staff, African Elephant Crossing will educate visitors about the complexity of people and animals living in close proximity, delivering a message about conserving wildlife in wild places.
Hundreds of butterflies from South America, Africa and Asia will flutter through the Zoo's Public Greenhouse, which also will be filled with beautiful tropical plants. Visitors will be able to learn about the metamorphosis process, as butterfly cocoons and newly hatched butterflies will be displayed daily.
FLUTTER! runs Saturday, May 28, through Tuesday, September 6. Free with regular Zoo admission.
Professor Wylde's Animal Show
Professor Wylde and a cast of critters return to the Savanna Theater this summer with all new adventures. Professor Wylde's Animal Show features an all-star cast, including a white stork, Burmese python, fennec fox, Egyptian vulture and peregrine falcon.
Professor Wylde teaches visitors of all ages about how the Zoo creates habitats best suited for its animals, while also teaching them what they can do to help wildlife and the environment.
Shows run daily Saturday, May 28, through Monday, September 5, with weekend shows through September. Show times are 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Free with Zoo admission.
Also this summer, check out the Zoo's "Hot Spots," a daily line-up of must-see special opportunities, including Get Close Animal Encounters, seal and sea lion training demonstrations, chances to meet the animal keepers and animal enrichment demonstrations. Plus, there are camel rides, lorikeet and giraffe feedings and the new African Elephant Play Maze.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with hours extended to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $11 per person, $8 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members.
To learn more, visit clemetzoo.com or call (216) 661-6500.