Visiting Cleveland Metroparks Zoo was always a big deal when I was growing up. My family lived in a tiny house off Fulton Road, not too far south from Clark Avenue, and my mom was always looking for cost-effective ways to entertain us three kids. The Zoo was a great option (and still is) and it had the added benefit of being right down the street. As a kid, one of the things I used to think about as we made our way around the Zoo, was how cool it would be to ride my bike there. I couldn’t have imagined that 30 years later I would be in a position to make this childhood daydream a reality.
Fast-forward to 2011. I work for Cleveland Metroparks in the Marketing & Communications department. I have an idea for a special event unlike anything the Zoo has done before (or most other zoos in the U.S. for that matter!) called Wild Ride at the Zoo. This event would involve people bringing their bikes to the Zoo and riding around the park to see their favorite animals. I knew it was kind of a long shot, but I pitched the idea and helped organize the logistics, and the first ride went off without a hitch in 2012. It was so popular, we did two more in 2013 and we’re planning two more for this year as well.
Wild Ride is a safari on two wheels that happens after the Zoo closes to regular guests so cyclists have the paths all to themselves. Many of the outdoor animals remain on exhibit and there are bike-related exhibitors set up on the Welcome Plaza. Ride maps point out bike routes around the Zoo for beginning, intermediate and experienced riders. You can even rent a bike for the night from The Bike Rack by calling (216) 771-7120. (The number of bikes available for rent is limited.)
This year’s Wild Rides are set for Friday, May 9 and Friday, July 25 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets for Wild Ride are $12 per person, with a $2 discount for Cleveland Zoological Society members. A signed release form will be required for each rider, and a helmet is strongly recommended. Advance sale tickets are available online at clevelandmetroparks.com/zoo along with printable release forms. Riders under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian sign and deliver the waiver.