Cleveland Metroparks Zoo opened the new Circle of Wildlife Carousel this morning to a waiting crowd of excited kids from Douglas MacArthur Leadership Academy and Cleveland Metroparks Adventure Club.
The new carousel features 64 beautiful, hand-carved animals carved by Mansfield, Ohio-based Carousel Works. Guests will have a hard time choosing a favorite figure as they walk the carousel perimeter and see colorful animals such as an elephant, tiger, gorilla, scarlet macaw, meerkat and more.
"We couldn't be more pleased with the carousel and the whole Circle of Wildlife area," said Executive Zoo Director Dr. Chris Kuhar. "The carousel adds an entirely new dimension to the guest experience the Zoo offers. We know it will be the perfect place for family members of multiple generations to visit and create memories for years to come."
The animal figures are grouped together on the carousel according to their natural environment, including African grassland, tropical forest and tundra. The carousel company also created eight custom animals that don't appear on any other carousel it has built, including an Anatolian shepherd, lynx, cardinal tetra (a species of fish), ocelot, ring-tailed lemur, loris, emperor penguin and fossa.
The pavilion housing the carousel features 12 of the bird tiles that acclaimed Cleveland artist and designer Viktor Schreckengost originally created for the Zoo's Birds of the World Building, which stood in the general area of the Zoo where the carousel is now from 1950 until 2004.
Adjacent to the carousel is the new Nature Discovery Ridge play area, scheduled to open to the public in a few days. It will engage children's imaginations and inspire them to come out and play through the use of wild habitats and natural elements like rocks, water and trees. Kids will be able to explore, climb, and best of all, have fun reconnecting with nature and letting their imaginations run wild. An observation deck for parents and caregivers overlooks the play area.
New restroom facilities, a food concessions area and two new picnic shelters with a capacity of 120 guests each are part of the Circle of Wildlife area's development as well. Pavilion rental packages include single ride and all day ride passes on the carousel.
Future plans for the Zoo's Circle of Wildlife include Stillwater Place, a rentable event center across from the carousel for weddings, corporate events, meetings, or trade shows to open by spring 2015.