Random header image... Refresh for more!

New Family Fun at Jungle Trails

Have you been to Jungle Trails lately?  If not, make plans to visit this exhibit on your next Zoo trip! We have recently installed some new family-oriented interactive elements that are sure to add more fun, laughter and learning to your day. Find out what it would be like if your family lived in the forest as you take on group challenges that our non-human primate relatives face every day.

Begin by working together like others primates do to explore their surroundings. As a family, seek out hidden plant and animal sculptures throughout the trail.

Look! I found the rock gecko.

Look! I found the rock gecko.

Next, try your hand at swinging like a gibbon. A double set of “gibbon bars” at different heights invite children and adults to swing from one end to the other. Who can swing the fastest in your family? Can you get your whole troop across without touching the ground? Listen closely and you may be able to hear the gibbons cheering you on along the way!

Swing like gibbon! Woop woop, you can do it!

Swing like gibbon! Woop woop, you can do it!

Orangutans create a mental map to remember where to find ripening fruit. If you were an orangutan, could you remember where to find the right fruit? At the outdoor orangutan exhibit, find out which of your family members has the best memory by playing a fruit matching memory game.

I found a match!

I found a match!

Now, get ready to balance like a lemur. Can you walk across a rope without falling off? Use the hanging ropes to help you balance.  Have a race – kids versus grown-ups! Who can make it across first? Can your whole group make it across without falling off?

Balancing like a lemur isn't as easy as it sounds!

Balancing like a lemur isn’t as easy as it sounds!

We primates have opposable thumbs that help us hold and use things with our hands. If you didn’t have opposable thumbs, how would you tie your shoes? Find out just how hard it is to tie your shoes (or Velcro them for young ones) without using your thumbs at this next interactive. We have three different-sized shoes for all ages to try at the same time and see who can do it first.

Thumbs Up for Thumbs

Thumbs Up for Thumbs

Bonobos communicate with each other by drumming a group rhythm on the buttress roots of trees. Create your own troop rhythm on the large hollow buttress root near the outdoor bonobo exhibit. Take turns banging out a rhythm and mimicking what you hear.

Bang out a rhythm here.

Bang out a rhythm here.

Now it’s time to put all the brains of your troop together to solve the “Big Brains at Work” maze outside the Africa building.  Primates are very smart and working together is essential for survival. Work together with your troop to push a stone through the maze with sticks.

It takes teamwork to solve this puzzle.

It takes teamwork to solve this puzzle.

We’ve even created new interactive signage using iPads at the indoor orangutan, gibbon and bonobo exhibits. Learn the names and personalities of the animals. Watch videos of our keepers hard at work to keep the animals happy and healthy. Learn what you can do to help save these endangered primates. Build your own Super Primate through an interactive game. The choice is up to you!

Learning about bonobos on the iPad.

Learning about bonobos on the iPad.

By the time you reach the end of the trail, your family of primates will know what it’s like to be a primate living in the forest. So come  swing, balance and discover with your troop at Jungle Trails today!


The Jungle Trails project was made possible with funding from a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to re-interpret the exhibit with a focus on family learning through a two-year process of research, development and design, and prototyping and evaluation.

July 22, 2013   1 Comment

Top 10 Zoo Stories from 2010

In 2010 we opened a new exhibit Dragons!, a new and improved Children’s Zoo and a brand new Cheetah Encounter facility.  We mourned the loss of Akilah, our beloved giraffe, and Nikki’s rhino calf, who lived less than one day (read rhino pregnancy blog posts.)  We celebrated the birth of two bonobos, the release of two rehabilitated manatees, the arrival of three new manatees, scientific achievements and the remarkable success of our cell phone recycling program!

Thanks to our fantastic videographer, Pat Story, we captured most of the year’s highlights on video.  Here are my picks for the top 10 zoo stories of 2010. What were your favorite zoo experiences this year?

1. Bonobo Babies – Outside for the first time!

2. Greenest Zoo in America – Thane Maynard narrates this “green” tour of the Zoo.

3. Manatee Released in Florida – Former resident of Manatee Springs, Slip, swims off with his new tracking gear!

4. Cincinnati Opera Returns to the Zoo – Wonderful voices in Wings of Wonder amphitheater.

5. Nikki’s Pregnancy - Historically significant as the first live birth of an Indian rhino using frozen sperm to AI the mother. Sadly, the calf lived less than one day.

6. New Cheetah Encounter – Thane & Cathryn Hilker show us around the new facility.

7. Dragons! Exhibit Opens – Featuring Hudo the Komodo dragon.

8. New & Improved Children’s Zoo – Home to Little Penguins, Goats, Llama, Alpaca, the Nursery & a play area where kids can pretend to “be the animal!”

9. Cell Phone Recycling Program – We collected 10, 355 phones!!

10. New Silverback Gorilla, Kwashi, meets the Females in his Group

January 6, 2011   2 Comments

The Heart Of Darkness

For time interminable the word “Congo” has inspired thoughts of cannibal filled forests, primeval beasts and deadly plagues.  Even after man began his never ending quest to conquer the seas West Africa remained a destination for only the bravest and in some cases the most wretched of souls. For more than 400 hundred years slave captains came to the coasts of West Africa to ply their grim trade. Along with their human cargo they spread throughout the world lurid tales of an impenetrable jungle, never ending rivers and a giant, man-like beast.  Long after David Livingston was so famously greeted by H.M Stanley the Congo remained feared and enigmatic.

Only in the last half century have some of the mysteries been unraveled. The Congo is the second largest rainforest on earth and is home to millions of native peoples, 11,000 plant species, 450 mammal species, 1,150 bird species, 500 reptile and amphibian species and an untold number of insect species. The Congo River does indeed have an end, you simply have to travel 2,920 miles to reach it. The giant man-like beast has been revealed to be a wondrous creature. The Gorilla is a family oriented vegetarian, far from the fearsome beast that haunted nightmares.

Everyday modern biologists are making exciting new discoveries in the Congo; from previously unknown populations of western lowland gorillas to incredible new species of beetles, frogs and monkeys. Time spent in the Congo may be full of discovery but its no “walk in the park”. Some parts of the basin receive more than ten feet of rain annually.  Remember those 11,000 species of plants that can be found in the Congo? In many places the vegetation is so thick that paths must be cleared daily by machete and it can take a day of walking to cover a couple of miles.  I hope you don’t mind our sticky Cincinnati summers if you’re going to the Congo. While no one knows exactly how many species of insects live in the Congo, everyone who’s been there agrees a lot of them are mosquitoes.

The Cincinnati Zoo’s animal collection has but a few species from the Congo but they can be viewed without enduring more hardships than a contestant on Survivor. The Okapi; the only living relative of the Giraffe, The Rhinoceros viper; among the most beautiful and feared snakes in the world, the Congo peafowl; a bird so rare it was first described in 1936, the Bonobo; a species of great ape with which we share 98% of our DNA, the aforementioned Gorilla and of course insects.  What would any zoo collection be without insects? We are fortunate o display several species of insects from the Congo including Emperor scorpions, Giant African millipedes, Magnificent Flower beetles, Taxi-cab beetles, Yellow-bellied beetles, and both Red-eyed and White-eyed assassin bugs.

Unfortunately, fear no longer protects these living jewels. Commercial logging, clearing of the land for agriculture and the bushmeat crisis threaten the animal life while political instability and civil war has displaced forest peoples and devastated entire cultures.

All is not lost. Organizations like our own Cincinnati Zoo, the Wildlife Conservation Society, The National Geographic Society and UNESCO are working to preserve the Congo forest, its people and its animals. Visit the zoo and get to know some of our Congolese residents.

Winton Ray / Insectarium Head Keeper

August 2, 2010   1 Comment