By Jacqueline Gerling
The winter season is the perfect time to experience the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. As one of northeast Ohio’s most popular year-round attractions, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo offers different and compelling experiences for each season.
If you’re visiting this winter, one of the most important areas to see is the new state-of-the-art Asian Highlands destination. Located in the Wilderness Trek area of the Zoo, the immersive addition is the home to Amur and snow leopards, red pandas, and takin a new species to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
At Asian Highlands, like many other areas in Wilderness Trek, winter can be one of the best times to visit. The animals have unique adaptations to the winter months such as the Amur leopard’s long legs to help trudge through deep snow and the snow leopard’s large paws that act as snow shoes and pale gray coat that helps camouflage them. Among the highlights of Asian Highlands is the snow leopard triplets who were born last April.
Asian Highlands boasts several unique and interconnected areas so the snow leopards and Amur leopard can explore different areas on different days. The different spaces of Asian Highlands have offered the triplets the ability to develop and learn on elevated platforms and spaces that match their ability. From a smaller cub yard early in their development to the high elevated platforms, the triplets have advanced significantly as they soon approach their first birthdays.
Asian Highlands also features an education plaza that highlights the conservation issues these species face. Both the Amur and snow leopards are two of the most threatened cat species in the world.
The Zoo’s Wilderness Trek destination includes many additional cold-climate animals such as reindeer, sea lions, a harbor seal and five different bear species. Wolf Wilderness also offers an indoor cabin where you can warm by the fire while visiting the Zoo’s pack of Mexican gray wolves.
Many animals across the Zoo enjoy cooler temperatures. At Rosebrough Tiger Passage, four interconnected habitats offer the Zoo’s Amur tigers the ability to climb and explore areas that offer a climbing pole, shallow pools and streams and more. It also features heated rocks – for tigers and visitors – for a place to warm up during winter. Two overhead pathways offer unique views of the tigers and important vertical climbing space for the large cats.
For animals inclined for warmer weather, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo activates different features during the cooler winter months such as radiant floor heating in the lion cave, heated rocks in the cheetah exhibit, overhead heating for the African elephants and more.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo also features several indoor areas that offer an escape from the weather. In the center of African Elephant Crossing is the Elephant Care & Visitor Center. Inside the exhibit, guests can see the Zoo’s herd of African elephants, colony of naked mole rats and an African rock python. Guests may also see some of the training and care the elephants receive through one of the protected contact training walls.
The Zoo’s complimentary heated shuttle bus offers quick rides up to the Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building. The indoor habitats of the Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building feature a wide variety of animals from South America, Africa and Asia including monkeys, fossa and various aquatic animals from both salt and fresh water habitats. It is also home to the Zoo’s western lowland gorillas including the male silverback gorilla, Mokolo.
The Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine is another indoor space where guests learn about animal care, experience a day in the life of a zookeeper or veterinarian, and possibly even see a live veterinary procedure through the operating room viewing windows. The center is the headquarters for the important animal care of all of the Zoo’s animals.
Australian Adventure offers several highlights year-round including kangaroos and wallabies. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s koala can be found in GumLeaf Hideout along with the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo.
Of course, no winter visit would be complete without a tropical visit to The RainForest, where it’s always 80 degrees. The RainForest showcases more than 10,000 plants and 600 animals in a unique, two-acre, two-story exhibit that gives visitors an extraordinary look at tropical species from threatened habitats including Bornean orangutans, ocelots, free-flying birds, Asian small-clawed otters, bats, sloths and a host of reptiles and amphibians.
Winter brings several educational opportunities to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo including winter camps and overnight stays at the Zoo that offer a chance to see your favorite Zoo animals after dark.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo also offers several unique settings and venues to host special events. Stillwater Place is a state-of-the-art indoor venue located in the heart of the Zoo. The venue overlooks the Zoo’s scenic Waterfowl Lake and can accommodate up to 300 guests year-round.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 363 days a year from 10 am until 5 pm. For more information, visit the website futureforwildlife.org.
Winter Season at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo