Toledo Zoo

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Toledo Zoo
Date opened 1900[1]
Location Toledo, Ohio, United States
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Land area 51 acres (21 ha) on south side
Number of animals 4,800[2]
Number of species 700[2]
Memberships AZA,[3] WAZA,[4] BFCI[5]
Major exhibits Africa!, Aquarium, Arctic Encounter, Aviary, Dingos, Bald Eagles, Cheetah Valley, Nature's Neighborhood, Kingdom of the Apes, Museum of Science, Primate Forest, Reptile House, Snow Leopards, Flamingo Key, Tiger Terrace, Ziems Conservatory, Tembo Trail, Penguin Beach

Toledo Zoo is a zoo located in Toledo, Ohio, United States. The zoo began in 1900 as Toledo Zoological Gardens and operated by the City of Toledo's Parks Board. In 1982, ownership was transferred from the city to Toledo Zoological Society, a private non-profit organization, and professionalized the zoo's management. Many of the zoo's original buildings were built by the Works Progress Administration, and are still in use today.

Toledo Zoo is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and participates in over 30 Species Survival Plans. It is also a member of the Butterfly Conservation Initiative (BFCI). The zoo has also been home to many firsts in the world of zoos; such as the first hippoquarium (and subsequently the first video of a hippo birth),[6][7] as well as being the first place in the world to display the Kihansi spray toad.[8] In 2014, the Toledo Zoo was named USA Today's #1 zoo in America.


Toledo Zoo's bridge

Toledo Zoo began in 1900, when a woodchuck was donated to the City of Toledo. In 1918, plans were made to move the Toledo Zoo from Walbridge Park to Ottawa Park, where it would "represent the finest and the third largest zoo in the United States." [9] These plans were never carried out.

The zoo was run by the city until 1982, when management was transferred to the Toledo Zoological Society. It has since added many new exhibits. In June 1986, the Hippoquarium, Phase 1 of the African Savanna, opened; Phase 2 opened the following year, in June 1987.

Because of the success of the Hippoquarium exhibit, the Toledo Zoo was given an opportunity to exhibit two giant pandas on loan from China for the summer of 1988. This was the first year that the zoo had over a million people attend in one year. The exhibit became controversial when the World Wildlife Foundation sued the Toledo Zoo over exhibiting pandas on a short term loan. The zoo was also charging people to see the pandas as a separate exhibit and because of the lawsuit the zoo was ordered to get rid of the fee because it was a part of the regular zoo. All in all the lawsuit was settled out of court and the pandas were exhibited like planned throughout the summer. But, because of all the nationwide media attention the zoo gained during the lawsuit it is assumed many more people came to the zoo from all over the country to see the pandas on exhibit.[citation needed]

In 1998, the zoo renovated its Aviary which was originally built around 1930. In 1999, Toledo Zoo received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Exhibit Award for Excellence.

In recent years, the zoo built a pedestrian bridge over the Anthony Wayne Trail. Before the bridge was built, people could get into the zoo through an underground tunnel.[1]



Africa! opened on May 1, 2004, and is 12 acres (4.9 ha) large. The main exhibit, the African plains, is 5 acres (2.0 ha) in size. It has artificial termite mounds for the free-roaming African animals, such as the East African crowned cranes, Grant's zebra, greater kudu, helmeted guineafowl, impala, Masai giraffe, Nile lechwe, ostrich, watusi cattle, and wildebeest. There is also a 0.6-acre (2,400 m2) section for African wild dogs. This is all viewed by visitors on an observation deck or the Safari Railway, which circles Africa! Children can ride the only African animal carousel in existence. Africa! was built on the site of the original gravel parking lot that existed before the bridge was built. In March 2010, a male baby giraffe named Enzi was born whose father, Mowgli, is another famous giraffe at the zoo.

African Savanna (now known as "Tembo Trail: Elephants of the Savanna")

Tembo Trail is a new form of The African Savanna. Visitors enter the Hippoquarium, where they could view the nile hippopotamus. Across from the hippos are otters. Visitors exit the Hippoquarium and view two African elephants. They also view the elephants from the Elephant Indoor Quarters. After viewing elephants, they see white rhinoceros in one exhibit and camels next door. Visitors see a gang of meerkats. The meerkats shared their home with a pride of white lions. There used to be two lions, but one of them died. Visitors exit Tembo Trail.

Tembo Trail: Elephants of the Savanna (Formally African Savanna)
The African elephant enclosure of the African Savanna exhibit was renovated and expanded during two phases of construction. The renovated exhibit, now called "Tembo Trail: Elephants of the Savanna", opened in May 2012. The redesigned area features an enlarged enclosure for African elephant cows and a new yard for African elephant bulls. The new bull yard replaces the site that was once the Children's Zoo. The zoo currently has four African elephants, two males and two females.


It has one of the most diverse collections of any zoo-aquarium in the United States. The aquarium closed in October 2012 for renovations and re-opened in March 2015. The updated aquarium contains 3000+ aquatic animals in 178,000 US gal (670,000 l) of water, including the largest tank with 90,000 US gal (340,000 l). The total water volume is nearly four times as much as the previous aquarium. A new addition is a touch tank containing various stingrays and small sharks. The renovations took two and half years and preserved the exterior of the Works Progress Administration era structure.[10]

Arctic Encounter

The Arctic Encounter includes wolves, gray and harbor seals, and polar bears. Two waterfalls and 7 saltwater streams are featured in this exhibit.[11]

The seals have a 4,000 square feet (370 m2) or land and 3,000 square feet (280 m2) of salt water. The polar bear exhibit includes 6,000 square feet (560 m2) of land and 1,600 square feet (150 m2) of water. There is a freshwater stream filled with fish during regular times. A "kids' cave" shows children and adults what it is like to be a polar bear.[11][12] On January 12, 2015, three more juvenile wolves were added to the zoo after the passing of two of the female wolves. The new male wolves are named Loki, Lobo, and Tundra.[13]


The aviary is one of the zoo's oldest buildings, built in 1937. After being renovated in 1998, it received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Exhibit Award for Excellence. The renovated aviary includes walk-through sections with hundreds of birds. The exhibit hatched saddle-billed storks, making Toledo Zoo one of the five zoos in the world to hatch the animal, and one of three zoos to have them live over a month. Other birds featured are burrowing owls, Cuban amazons, Cuban grassquits, green broadbills, rhinoceros hornbills, sunbitterns, and Victoria crowned pigeons.[14] The aviary also has little penguins.

File:Toledo Zoo Bald Eagle.jpg
One of the bald eagles housed at the Toledo Zoo.

Bald eagles

The bald eagle exhibit and rescue is located in the middle of the north side pedestrian ramp to the bridge. The first inhabitants had an injured wing and a blind eye respectively.[15]

Cheetah Valley

Cheetah Valley can be viewed from an observation deck or from the fence located by the Museum of Science. One female from Namibia has had several litters of cubs.[16]

Nature's Neighborhood

Nature's Neighborhood is where children visit. It features cats, dogs, and other animals that could be kept as pets. A gift shop called K.C.'s corner store is located in Nature's Neighborhood. The forest area had exhibited vampire bats in October 2014. A goat encouter area and play stream are also located in Nature's Neighborhood.

Kingdom of the Apes

In 1993, The Kingdom of the Apes first opened. Now, it holds orangutans and western lowland gorillas. The gorillas have a Gorilla Meadow, which has an area of 0.3 acres (1,200 m2). The orangutan exhibit has a pool in the outdoor space and climbing structures.[17] Two chimpanzees, named Fifi and Harvey, used to be on exhibit at the Toledo Zoo. After the passing of the chimps from old age, the zoo chose not to continue the chimpanzee exhibit.[18]

Museum of Science

The exhibit includes two sub-exhibits, The Crawlspace and Amazing Amphibians. The Crawlspace: A World of Bugs contains over 20 species such as beetles, centipedes, cockroaches, orb-weaver spiders, scorpions, tarantulas, and stick insects.[10]

The Amazing Amphibians exhibit features over two dozen species of frogs, salamanders and caecilians, including the Kihansi spray toad, the Wyoming toad and the Japanese giant salamander. Completed in 2008, the exhibit features a nocturnal area at its entrance and biosecure rooms that enable breeding of certain species.

Penguin Beach

The Penguin Beach was built in 2014 and features African penguins. This is an outdoor exhibit with a little overhead bridge and an underwater viewing area.


Primate forest: The Primate Forest exhibited colobus monkeys, lemurs, Francois' langurs, gibbons and new animals, red pandas.

Reptile House

The Reptile House (Reptillia) exhibited a Roti Island snake-necked turtle, a gaboon viper, other species of snakes, gila monsters, a Chinese alligator, lizards and a garter snake.

Snow leopards

Visitors could view snow leopards through mesh netting. These are the only leopards exhibited at the toledo zoo.

Ziems Conservatory

Built in 1904, the conservatory has many tropical plants, such as the banana, bromeliad, fern, and palm. There is a 200 flower rose garden with the climber, floribunda, hybrid tea, and grandiflora. At one time,this section also featured a butterfly garden.[20]


The Lights Before Christmas

The Lights Before Christmas is an annual event held by The Toledo Zoo from November 16 to December 31. Most summer attractions and exhibits are closed, but all the buildings and trees are decorated with Christmas lights. It features over one million Christmas lights, 200 animal images, ice carvings, food, carolers, model trains from the Swanton Area Railroad, and Santa Claus. An 85-foot (26 m) Norway spruce tree contains over 32,000 lights every year, which is more than the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. The main show, Dancing Lights, is near Cheetah Valley. It is repeated several times every night. It uses LED wide-angle mini lights that flash along with Christmas music.[21] All this is done using nearly 10 miles (16 km) of extension cords.[22]

Winter Weekends

Winter Weekends is an annual winter-themed event lasting from January through February. It features professional ice carving demonstrations, "Cabin Fever Feeds", musical and theatrical performances in the historic Indoor Theatre, and other special activities. Many of the outdoor animal exhibits are closed during these months, but all of the indoor exhibits remain open to the public. Zoo admission is also half-price during this event.[23]

Conservation efforts

A Cuban boa gets a microchip from Toledo Zoo biologist.

The Zoo has several projects across the world working with wildlife and habitats. Zoo employees run a majority of the research abroad and will participate in expeditions. Some of the most prominent conservation programs are the Aruba island rattle snake program, West Indian boa conservation, the Kihansi spray toad program (which served to restore a wild population that was declared extinct).

The Zoo has a department called Wild Toledo, which focuses on local conservation efforts and scientific research. This conservation department works to re-introduce hellbenders to their native habitat in southeastern Ohio, release thousands of monarch butterflies for fall migration, rear the federally endangered Mitchell’s satyr butterfly, restore native prairie habitat in urban Toledo, conduct research on the spatial ecology and population dynamic of several species of threatened turtles, conduct health assessments and vaccinations of local mesopredators, research the movement and presence/absence of native Ohio wildlife with trail cameras, conduct vegetation analysis on ecosystems around the region and work to support and restore native pollinators.

Wild Toledo runs three summer field camps aimed at 10-13 year olds interested in field research and conservation. Wild Toledo also has several partnerships with educational facilities within northwest Ohio where native prairies are installed and interpreted for students.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Toledo Zoo - Discover Toledo Zoo: "A Tradition Rich in Toledo History"
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Toledo Zoo, 1994, Andres
  3. "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 21 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". WAZA. Retrieved 21 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "BFCI Members and Contributors". BFCI. Retrieved 21 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Hippoquarium". 2007-02-11. Retrieved 2015-12-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Bubbles' legacy". Retrieved 2015-12-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "TZ to Tanzania: A Kihansi Spray Toad Fact Sheet". Toledo Zoo. Retrieved 8 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. The Toledo City Journal (Vol. 3, No. 29), July 20, 1918, p. 358
  10. 10.0 10.1 Toledo Zoo - Our Animals and Plants: "Aquarium"
  11. 11.0 11.1 Toledo Zoo - Our Animals and Plants: "Arctice Encounter"
  12. Toledo Zoo - Our Animals and Plants: "Wolf Exhibit"
  13. [1]
  14. Toledo Zoo - Our Animals and Plants: "Aviary"
  15. Toledo Zoo - Our Animals and Plants: "Bald Eagles"
  16. Toledo Zoo - Our Animals and Plants: "Cheetah Vallet"
  17. Toledo Zoo - Our Animals and Plants: "Apes"
  18. [2]
  20. Toledo Zoo - Our Animals and Plants: "Conservatory & Gardens"
  21. Toledo Zoo - Zoo Events: "Calendar of Events"
  22. Toledo Zoo - Zoo Events: "Calendar of Events" (Fun Facts)
  23. [3]

External links