Category — Exhibits
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is excited to announce the grand opening of the next phase of its AFRICA exhibit! Here, visitors will immerse themselves into the African Savannah, featuring East African architecture, landscape, and natural elements, while taking in the sights and sounds of one of the most majestic countries in the world, right in their own back yard.
The Cincinnati Zoo’s new signature exhibit, Painted Dog Valley, is the featured exhibit in this phase of the opening. The exhibit highlights one of the most predatory and endangered species in all of Africa—the African painted dog. Known for their famously large, round ears and beautifully “painted”, multi-colored coats, the African painted dog exhibit will have a crystal clear waterfall, a large eye-to-eye viewing window, and multiple vantage points. At the turn of the 20th century there were more than 500,000 painted dogs in 39 countries. Today, there are only 3,000 dogs in Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa combined, making them the rarest species on the African continent.
In addition to African painted dogs, visitors will enjoy the breath-taking beauty of a new open-vista exhibit, featuring, impala, Thomson’s gazelle, ostrich, pink-backed pelican, and Ruppell’s vulture, to name a few! Visitors will watch as a variety of species graze on tall grasses, make stops at the watering hole, and laze about under the summer sun. Over the summer this herd will continue to grow, as animals are added in phases to ensure a calm and safe introduction to each other and the exhibit space.
This systematic approach is a necessary precaution needed when introducing multiple species in one exhibit. These precautions ensure the animal’s comfort and safety, while also allowing keepers the time needed to carefully evaluate each step along the way.
Phase one, the addition of pelicans, vultures, and cranes, is currently underway and Zoo guests could see them together this weekend. Toward the end of next week, once those animals are acclimated, the Zoo hopes to start the second phase with the addition of the ostrich. Once the animals are settled, the Zoo will then add guinea fowl. And finally, the impala, gazelle, and lesser kudu will be introduced. This final phase could happen late summer or early fall, depending on the time frame for earlier introductions and each individual animals temperament.
A third exhibit space has also been completed during this exhibit opening – the future site of meerkats. Currently, this exhibit will be home to the Zoo’s bat-eared foxes, with meerkats arriving Summer 2015!
The Zoo hopes visitors will enjoy meeting the new painted dogs, seeing the bat-eared foxes in their new home, and watching the phased introduction as the herd grows.
Africa is now open!
June 27, 2014 No Comments
We are in the home stretch, putting the finishing touches on Phase IV of our ambitious Africa exhibit this week, which opens to the public on Saturday. Soon, the large savannah will be home to Thomson’s gazelles, impala and lesser kudu as well as ostrich, pink-backed pelicans and more. New exhibits include bat-eared foxes (future meerkat) and, of course, African painted dogs.
It’s been quite a few years since the Zoo has exhibited African painted dogs and we’re all very excited about their return. Our female is named Imara. She came to us from Oglebay’s Good Zoo. Our male is Haka and he came to us from the Brookfield Zoo. Both of them were born in 2012. Their exhibit is a large, beautiful grassy yard featuring trees, a creek and a rocky den. Guests will be able to view them up close through a large glass window on one end of the exhibit. At the other end, the viewing opportunity is open air.
African painted dogs are endangered in the wild with fewer than 6,000 remaining in central and southern Africa. The Zoo contributes to their conservation by supporting the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) in Tanzania. RCP works with local communities to ensure the survival of carnivores and people in and around Ruaha National Park. The Ruaha region is home to Africa’s third largest population of painted dogs and 10% of Africa’s lions.
RCP documents the presence and location of wildlife species through community-reported sightings and photos taken by motion-triggered cameras. Through the Ruaha Explorer’s Club, the Zoo sponsors one of the cameras. In return, RCP posts images taken by the Cincinnati Zoo Cam on a dedicated Facebook page; like the page to follow along! Interested in sponsoring a camera yourself? Find out more on RCP’s website.
RCP also works to improve the lives of people and predators by reducing attacks on livestock and retaliatory attacks by people. Reinforcing fencing around corrals to keep livestock safe from predators at night, for example, goes a long way towards building positive relationships between people and predators.
RCP also helps communities realize tangible benefits from having carnivores around by providing employment for local people, school supplies, scholarships and a stocked medical clinic. Regular education and outreach activities such as movie nights and community meetings are held. They even take villagers and schoolchildren who have never been to the national park on educational visits with support from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Angel Fund.
We hope you will come see Imara and Haka, our new painted dogs, at the Zoo next time you visit and we invite you to join us in supporting the conservation of their counterparts in the wild.
June 25, 2014 No Comments
Written by Crissi Lanier, Advanced Inquiry Program Graduate and Interpretive Media Volunteer, and Shasta Bray, Interpretive Media Manager
If you’re like me, your first question might be: What is a kea?
Meet the Kea
Ground-nesting parrots native to the Southern Alps on the Southern Island of New Zealand, keas have adapted to survive through bitter cold and little food during harsh winters, feeding mainly on bulbs, leaves, seeds, worms and insects, and even Hutton’s Shearwater chicks and eggs when other food isn’t available. Males are slightly heavier than females weighing about 850 to 1,000 grams (around 1.5 to 2 pounds) and have noticeably larger upper mandibles.
Keas have beautiful olive green feathers that become slightly darker at the end. If you look closely when they spread their wings, you will see a brilliant orange color on the under part of their wings. While keas are strong fliers, they spend a great deal of time on the forest floor foraging for food.
These clever parrots are considered to be as intelligent as primates. They regularly engage in play behavior and display play signals much like canids and primates do. They can also learn and adapt very quickly when presented with new situations such as the new Kea Encounter!
Keas are listed as Nationally Endangered in New Zealand and as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This means it faces a high risk of extinction in the wild. They have been considered a threat to livestock and 150,000 birds were killed as part of a government bounty system. They have also seen a decline in numbers due to invasive species, habitat loss and lead poisoning. Only in 1986 did they finally receive legal protection. Clearly, they are in need of our help.
Keas at the Zoo
The Cincinnati Zoo is home to over 40% of the entire kea population in North America with 16 keas, include 10 adults (five males and five females) and six juveniles. The juveniles hatched in April and are growing rapidly, already weighing as much as a young adult. Juveniles can be spotted by the yellowish coloring around their eyes and beak, which fades to dark brown after several years.
Come Play at the New Kea Encounter!
At the new kea exhibit (formerly Lorikeet Landing), there is large window through which guests can view the birds. Here, guests can play an interactive game with the keas to move a quarter through a puzzle by taking turns at turning gears and flipping levers.
There is also an interactive that challenges guests to be clever like a kea and move a ball around a track by working together. Keepers are on hand each day at 10:30 AM to chat with guests (check the daily animal encounters schedule for confirmation).
During the special Kea Encounter on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 4:00 to 5:00 PM, visitors are invited to enter the kea habitat. During that time, you can get up close views of the birds as they fly over your head and hop on the ground around you. With keeper assistance, the birds will accept donations for kea conservation; taking your dollar in their beak, they fly to a donation box and drop it in.
Supporting Kea Conservation
Funds raised by the Zoo support the Kea Conservation Trust (KCT) in its mission to protect keas in the wild through nest monitoring and tracking kea movements. KCT is also testing a non-toxic repellent spray that would keep keas away from livestock and, in return, protect keas from farmer retaliation. (Keas have been known to peck at and feed on the backs of sheep with their sharp beaks.)
Next time you’re at the Zoo, be sure to stop by and participate in our new Kea Encounter!
June 20, 2014 No Comments