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Re-interpreting Jungle Trails to Engage Families

Exciting news! We recently received a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to re-interpret our Jungle Trails exhibit with a focus on family learning.

A recipient of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) prestigious exhibit award in 1994, the current Jungle Trails exhibit takes visitors on a journey through the rainforests of Asia and Africa to witness just a sampling of the amazing wildlife that lives there with a focus on primates. The Jungle Trails exhibit appeals to visitors’ emotions and motivations through an innate connection we all have with our closest animal relatives, the primates.

Innovative for its time, the immersive Jungle Trails exhibit sets the rainforest stage with trails that wind through nearly two acres of jungle-type landscape, featuring detailed sculptures and murals, a wild soundtrack, and a variety of exotic plants and animals. Endangered primates such as orangutans, gibbons, and bonobos are highlights of the trail and can be viewed from both indoor and outdoor areas. We are one of less than a dozen zoos worldwide that exhibit and breed bonobos in participation with the Bonobo Species Survival Plan (SSP) managed by the AZA. We also participate in SSPs for orangutans and gibbons.

Through this project, we will plan, develop and design, implement, evaluate, and share fresh interpretive methods to encourage families to learn about the world by discussing new experiences, asking questions, and sharing memories. The project is designed to strengthen our ability to engage our primary audience—families—in new and deeper ways of learning about our non-human primate relatives.

The project will play out over the next two years as we research best practices, test prototypes, develop and design the final interpretive elements, and evaluate their effectiveness. Right now we are delving into the research on family learning and the principles behind creating family-friendly exhibits.

Check back for updates as the Jungle Trails project progresses!



1 Chris Thompson { 11.02.11 at 3:02 pm }

Will you be paving the Jungle Trails path so strollers don’t get bogged down in the mud?

2 Shasta Bray { 11.02.11 at 3:22 pm }

Good question, Chris! Paving the path is certainly up for discussion. We hope to preserve the authentic feeling of walking through the jungle, but definitely want to make it more accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. Perhaps there is a way to do both.

3 Leah Wolf Nelson { 11.02.11 at 3:27 pm }

Perhaps the path could be paved with textured, brown-colored concrete paving stones/blocks to make it still have an earthy look but be sturdy. You could even put random leaf, insect, and ground-dwelling jungle animal prints in them.

4 News From the Cincinnati Zoo 2011 #2 » Cincinnati Zoo - Page 12 { 11.03.11 at 4:26 pm }

[…]   #167 1 Minute Ago The zoo will be receiving two female gorillas, one, Asha, from the Gladys Porter Zoo, and another, Anju, from the Pittsburgh Zoo, next year as potential mates for their silverback, Jomo. To make room for these new additions, several of the zoo's gorillas will be moving to other zoos across the country. Two females, Madge and Shanta, will be moving to the Dallas Zoo as non-breeding companions for Dallas' male, Patrick. A mother and son, Muke and Bakari, will be moving to the Oklahoma City Zoo. This transfer is being made to integrate young Bakari into a social unit with other gorillas that are close to his own age. In other news, the zoo has received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to reinterpret the award-winning Jungle Trails exhibit to be more engaging for families. Link to an article from the zoo's blog: Re-interpreting Jungle Trails to Engage Families | Cincinnati Zoo Blog […]

5 jeff { 11.06.11 at 8:00 pm }

please do not try to fix what is not broken. “family interactive” sounds like lots of large signs and other visually loud thingawhats which will interupt and destroy the aesthetics. the intimate dirt trail with bamboo and stone temples is very unique, and what is even more unique is that it is mostly unspoiled by the kind of cluttery signage and other visually loud nonsense that it sounds like you want to bring in. does anyone value aesthetics? please don’t ruin the jungle trails. speaking of valuing aesthetics, while i have not been to the zoo since the cat house was transformed to night hunters, it is my understanding that the incredible murals/diaramas that were the cat exhibits were stripped for night hunters. i am baffled and disappointed by this decision as it shows there was apparently no appreciation for how absolutely outstanding those cat house exhibit murals/diaramas were visually. you folks are ruining your zoo. please spare the jungle trails from this horrible decision making. thank you.

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