Toledo Zoo

Toledo Zoo
Date opened 1900[1]
Location Toledo, Ohio, United States
Coordinates 41°37′09″N 83°34′51″W / 41.6191°N 83.5807°W / 41.6191; -83.5807Coordinates: 41°37′09″N 83°34′51″W / 41.6191°N 83.5807°W / 41.6191; -83.5807
Land area 51 acres (21 ha) on south side
No. of animals 4,800[2]
No. of species 700[2]
Memberships AZA,[3] WAZA,[4] BFCI[5]
Major exhibits Africa!, Aquarium, Arctic Encounter, Aviary, Maned Wolf, Bald Eagles, The 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, Cassowary Crossing, Galapagos Gardens

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 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. The lawsuit was settled out of court and the pandas were exhibited as planned throughout the summer. It is likely that many more people visited the zoo to see the pandas, because of the media attention the zoo gained during the lawsuit.

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, addra gazelles, Masai giraffe, Sacred ibis, Nile lechwe, White-backed vulture, ostrich, watusi cattle, White-headed vulture, Marabou stork, warthogs, and wildebeest. There is also a 0.6-acre (2,400 m2) section for Cheetahs. 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. In 2016, the Houston Zoo needed the African wild dogs for a breeding recommendation so the zoo replaced the African Wild Dogs with three young, male cheetahs from the Columbus Zoo. In 2017, two female Masai Giraffes were born at the zoo named Kipenzi and Binti. In 2017 the Malawi event center was added in between the indoor Giraffe exhibit and the children’s carousel. It is a rentable space seating 900+ people. It also contains a 14,000 US gallon (52996 L) aquarium housing native African fish, mostly Cichlids.


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. Two new additions are a large touch tank containing various stingrays and small sharks and a smaller touch tank housing invertebrates, such as multiple species of Starfish, a wide variety Hermit Crabs, Horseshoe crabs and Pencil Sea Urchins. The renovations took two and half years and preserved the exterior of the Works Progress Administration era structure.[10] This area also includes Goldfish, Zebra Sharks, An Alligator Snapping Turtle, Blacktip reef sharks, Isopods, Walleye, Clownfish, Electric eels, Bichir, Southern stingrays, Channel catfish, Epaulette sharks, Cownose rays, a Giant Pacific octopus, Horn sharks, Neon tetras, Australian lungfish, flashlight fish, Arowanas, Japanese spider crabs, African lungfish, a shoal of Red-bellied piranhas, Gar, Atlantic stingrays, Arapaima, a Giant gourami, Yellow-spotted rays, Common carp, South American lungfish, Discus, Seahorses, a Wolf eel, as well as Jellyfish, Leopard sharks, Garden eels, & a Green turtle named Tink.

Arctic Encounter

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

The seals have 4,000 square feet (370 m2) of 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]

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.[14]

The Valley

The Valley can be viewed from an observation deck or from the fence located by the Museum of Science. For many years the exhibit inhabited one female cheetah from Namibia with several litters of cubs.[15] Now, it holds 3 reindeer with possible plans to acquire more in the future (as of Jan 1, 2018).

Nature's Neighborhood

Nature's Neighborhood is located next to the Museum of Science. It currently contains African pygmy goats, Silkie chickens, honeybees, Leafcutter Ants, vampire bats, a Tamandua, Patagonian maras, Guinea pigs, crayfish, Corn snakes, cockatiels, rats, macaws, an opossum as well as various cats and rabbits. The structure features are a Play Stream, Contact Yard, and a large playground. The area is designed with child safety in mind, featuring a "one-way in, one-way out" construction.

Kingdom of the Apes

In 1993, The Kingdom of the Apes first opened. Now, it holds bornean 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.[16] Two chimpanzees, named Fifi and Harvey, used to be on exhibit at the Toledo Zoo. After the death of the chimps from old age, the zoo chose not to continue the chimpanzee exhibit.[17]

Museum of Science

The exhibits included 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 featured 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 featured a nocturnal area at its entrance and biosecure rooms that enable breeding of certain species.

In 2017 the Museum of Science was closed for renovations. As of January 19, 2018 the zoo removed the previous two sub-exhibits. They are being replaced with multiple new sub-exhibits more focused on natural history.

Penguin Beach

The Penguin Beach was built in 2014 and features African penguins and multiple species of duck including the Long-tailed duck, Baer's Pochard, Spectacled eider and the Harlequin Duck. This is an outdoor exhibit with a little overhead bridge and an underwater viewing area. This exhibit has produced multiple offspring since its opening.

Tembo Trail

Tembo Trail is located on the south side of zoo and is one of the largest areas within the zoo. Tembo Trail currently features African Elephants, Hippos, Spotted-necked otters, Grizzly Bears, Tasmanian Devils, Meerkats, Bactrian Camels, Yaks, Naked Mole Rats and a Kodiak Bear named Dodge. In the recent past Tembo Trail has also featured Slender-snouted crocodiles, Southern White Rhinos, Dromedaries and White lions on loan from Siegfried and Roy. Tembo Trail exhibits an Indian Rhino named Aashish who was acquired from The Wilds in early 2018.

One of the most famous exhibits within Tembo Trail is the Hippoquarium®️. The Hippoquarium houses the zoo’s two Hippos which can be viewed underwater. The Toledo Zoo was the first to have such viewing of Hippos and was also the first to film the underwater birth of a Hippo.

Tiger Terrace

Located near the entrance is an Andean bear named Nieve who at 29 years old is the oldest recorded female Andean Bear on the planet. It also includes Amur tigers, North American Cougars, Caribbean flamingos, Dalmatian pelicans, Roseate spoonbills, Scarlet ibises, White-breasted cormorants and various species of waterfowl. It also holds Maned wolves & Dingoes that are located near the ramp for the Anthony Wayne Trail Footbridge. Former species have included White-naped cranes & Sloth bears.


Located in the first room are the Demoiselle crane, Blue-throated macaws, birds from the Amazon Rainforest, and rhinoceros hornbills. There is an Australian walkthrough exhibit where people feed either Budgerigars or many of the other bird species in the room. This currently features birds from either Australia, Asia or Africa, such as Victoria crowned pigeons, Gouldian finches, Spur-winged plover, Long-tailed finch, Red-throated parrotfinch, Raggiana bird-of-paradise, Blue-faced parrot finch, Kagu, Pheasant pigeons, Nicobar pigeon, Scarlet-chested parrot, Owl finch, Star finch, Pink-necked fruit dove, Thick-billed ground pigeon, Luzon bleeding-heart dove, Plum-headed finch, Pekin robin, Crested wood partridge, Great argus, Bearded barbet, Violet-backed starling, Madagascan buttonquail, Emerald starling, Golden-breasted starling, Superb starling, & Blue-bellied rollers. The children’s area includes emperor tamarins, lowland paca, three-banded armadillos and two-toed sloth. The Aviary also features a Queensland Koala named Coedie who is from the San Diego Zoo.

Primate Forest

Located in the Main Plaza, this exhibit holds lemurs, Black-and-white colobuses, Allen’s swamp monkeys, François' langurs, red pandas and White-cheeked gibbons. Located near the Primate Forest is the aviary breeding center, which is home to Cinereous vultures, waldrapp ibis, Scaly-sided merganser, Crested guineafowl, kori bustard, white stork, capercaillies and saddle-billed stork.


Located from the right of the Historic Carousel & north from the playground, this exhibit was built during the aquarium renovation to house kiwi but has also an outdoor viewing of many birds, especially gamebirds including the Elliot's pheasant, Green junglefowl, Berlioz's silver pheasant, Mikado pheasant, Reeves's pheasant, Himalayan monal, Swinhoe's pheasant, & Edwards's pheasant. Non-gamebirds include the North Island brown kiwi, crested pigeon, white-rumped shama, tawny frogmouth, chestnut-breasted malkoha, spectacled owl, blue-faced honeyeater, Chinese hwamei, red-billed blue magpie, crested coua, Mandarin duck, Lesser bird-of-paradise, snowy owl, fawn-breasted bowerbird, laughing kookaburra & the Australian magpie.

Reptile House

It currently holds 1000 species of snakes, lizards and a saltwater crocodile. Behind it is a Native Ohio Species Area, featuring natural wetland structures and native turtles. Near it is a raptor barn.

Snow Leopards

This exhibit is built with mesh and chain links. The snow leopards will choose whether to be on the left side or the right side of the enclosure, due to a Feline Tunnel. There was also a cub who was born in October 2017.

Cassowary Crossing

The Cassowary Crossing is located near the south-side ramp for the Anthony Wayne Trail Footbridge. It includes a glass fence surrounding the enclosure, a Southern Cassowary.


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.[18] All this is done using nearly 10 miles (16 km) of extension cords.[19]

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.[20]

Conservation efforts

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 rattlesnake 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.


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