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Cinco de Gato: Eat, Drink and Help Save Ocelots in Texas!

More commonly found in Central and South America, a small endangered population of about 80 ocelots still roams the thorny brush habitats found on ranchlands and the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in South Texas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are working to protect the Texas ocelot, and the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) invites you to help support their efforts by joining us for our first annual Cinco de Gato fundraising event!

Cinco de Gato logo

This Friday on May 8 between 5:00pm and 11:00pm, join us at Barrio Tequileria in Northside (3937 Spring Grove Ave). Barrio Tequileria has generously offered to donate a portion of food and drink sales during the event to the cause. Cincinnati Magazine recently recognized Barrio Tequileria as having one of Cincinnati’s top outdoor dining patios. You can even bring your dogs!

Barrio Logo with phone

If you come early, you might get the chance to meet a special animal ambassador, and later in the evening there will be live music. We’ll be selling Cinco de Gato merchandise, including t-shirts, shot glasses and magnets painted by the Zoo’s ocelot ambassadors, Sihil and Santos. There will also be a piñata raffle and face painting. The event is sure to be fun for all ages!

Sihil, one of the Zoo's ocelot ambassadors, really puts her whole body into her art! You can purchase magnets painted by Sihil at Cinco de Gato.

Sihil, one of the Zoo’s ocelot ambassadors, really puts her whole body into her art! You can purchase magnets painted by Sihil at Cinco de Gato.

Cinco de Gato t-shirts and magnets painted by the Zoo's ocelots are among the merchandise that will be for sale at the event.

Cinco de Gato t-shirts and magnets painted by the Zoo’s ocelots are among the merchandise that will be for sale at the event.

Admission to the event is free! Funds raised will support Texas ocelot conservation through the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. So come on out for some great fun, food and drinks!


May 6, 2015   No Comments

All You Need To Know About The Annual Tulip Sale!

Zoo Blooms has ended, but there is still plenty to see at the Zoo’s Botanical Garden! After the tulips peak bloom is over, the work really begins! Volunteers are taking over the grounds this week in an effort to dig up the once blooming tulips and begin to plant some of the region’s top rated annuals.


Why do we dig up our tulips and sell them you ask? In order for tulips to bloom to their fullest each year the leaves should die back to the ground before they are removed. Now picture that throughout the Botanical Garden for 2-3 weeks. Beds full of dying foliage. Not exactly what our guests are hoping to see! These display beds are the “floral welcome carpet” to visitors and we want them to say WOW.  In order to have the best possible growing conditions we till the beds and add organic matter to the soil. Then we plant the best annual trials in the Midwest.

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Why don’t we keep the bulbs and replant them?  Storage is a major issue. First we would have to let the foliage dieback and the conditions for storage require a cool dark area with plenty of airflow.  If you have ever come to our shop during tulip digging time and have seen the huge amounts of bulbs, it’s easy to understand we would need a warehouse.  So the solution has been to sell them to the public, allowing our guests to have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of flowers in their home landscapes and using the proceeds towards the cost of next year’s bulbs. We plant over 100,000 bulbs each year, so selling the bulbs helps to offset that cost.

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This year, the Zoo will be selling the bulbs on the spot as volunteers and staff digs them up. Sale times will be 10am-noon (weather permitting). The Tulip Hotline number to call for updates on digging locations and bulb availability is 513-475-6102. We will update daily where we are digging. Tulips are $5 a bag.  Click here for a list of the top annuals that you may see popping up this summer! Stop by and get your bulbs before they sell out!


May 4, 2015   No Comments

No Need To Fear The Carpenter Bees!

Spring has sprung at the Cincinnati Zoo, and so have the Carpenter Bees! However, the Zoo’s Curator of Invertebrates, Winton Ray, has some comforting news for you. It’s time to stop fearing the bee. At least the Eastern Carpenter Bee!

The Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylacopa viginica) is the large, yellow and black flying insect frequently encountered on Zoo grounds at this time of year. Though they are often mistaken for Bumblebees they can be most easily differentiated from them by their black, hairless abdomens; Bumblebees have fuzzy abdomens. Carpenter Bees were so named because the females excavate nest tunnels in wood. They only nest in the wood, they do not eat it. And while nesting bees can sometimes damage wooden structures the damage associated with them is sometimes caused by woodpeckers working to excavate the bees themselves for food.


Carpenter Bees are among the first insects observed in spring. The Carpenter Bees Zoo guests are generally encountering are males. Male Carpenter Bees can be easily distinguished from females by the white or gold patch between their eyes. Each male stakes out a territory in the vicinity of a nesting female awaiting the opportunity to breed. Any other males entering the territory will be chased away and just about anything will be investigated. It’s these investigative flights that bring them into close proximity with you, the innocent bystander zoo guests. Carpenter Bees are large and fast flying so it’s easy to see why people mistake their curiosity for aggression even though they’re essentially harmless. Male Carpenter Bees, like all male bees or wasps cannot sting. Let me repeat that: they cannot sting! The stinger is a modified ovipositor (egg laying organ). Female Carpenter Bees are capable of stinging but rarely do. They spend most of their time visiting flowers or in their underground nest tunnels.

In a few weeks the Carpenter Bees we’re seeing will be gone but in the tunnels they’ve created their offspring will live on. In late summer young Carpenter Bees will emerge to feed on nectar in preparation for a long winter hibernation. They’ll generally hibernate in the same tunnels their ancestors survived previous winters in. Carpenter Bees on Zoo grounds are going about their lives the way they have for countless millennia, they’re just doing it at the Zoo instead of in an Eastern forest.

So, good news for your next Zoo visit! Carpenter Bees pose essentially no danger to us. You’re actually more likely to be injured trying to swat or flee from Carpenter Bees than by the bees themselves. Next time you see a Carpenter Bee, you can let your friends know, there’s really nothing to fear!


April 25, 2015   2 Comments