Various preview events at the Australian Adventure exhibit were held June 3rd through 7th. The official opening to the public was on June 8th. This date also marked the opening of the miniature railroad, which runs through the Australian exhibit area.
Twin male & female Siberian Tiger cubs were born in April. This was the first pair of tiger cubs born at the Zoo in 16 years. The Prehistoric Plant Garden debuted in 2001, with life-size dinosaur footpring castings and an assortment of prehistoric plants. The Zoo’s three female African elephants began painting as an enrichment activity. Grants permitted the continued expansion of the Distance Learning program, and the Theatrical Interpretive program, which promotes visitor “immersion” in the newest exhibit areas. A new ZooTram was purchased.
A popular activity offered to Zoo guests in 2002 was the “ride-the-movie” adventure that showed the movie “Wilderness Adventure” in a motion simulator from SimEX!!werks. Two new species were added to the animal collection: Wolf’s Guenons and Pallas’ Cat. A few important Zoo births included a Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, a Red Flanked Duiker, and Emperor Tamarins. A regional Gorilla meeting this year brought keepers, curators and veterinarians from eleven regional zoos to discuss gorilla diet, nutritional needs, medical management, enrichment, training and more. CMZ also hosted the 24th Annual Elephant Managers Association conference, which brought 125 delegates together to exchange information and ideas.
The Zoo had its second best attendance ever with 1,365,371 guests. There was also a string of animal births: a bontebok, twin slender-horned gazelles, Grant’s zebra, 3 Masai giraffe babies and a black rhino. Twenty-one animatronic dinosaurs were exhibited behind Waterfowl Lake. Construction began in earnest on the Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine. Planning got underway for the next major project, a renovation of the elephant exhibit. It is to be called “Elephant Oxbow” and will feature elephants, hippos, warthogs, meerkats, African savanna birds, reptiles, and more.
The Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine opened, and voters passed a ten-year levy for Cleveland Metroparks and the Zoo. The birth of four fossas is worth mentioning. This rare animal from Madagascar is an important part of the Zoo’s endangered animals. The “Rising Waters Safari Camp” replaced the old camp area. A new exhibit called “Free Flight Falls” was opened. The area contains a 50-foot waterfall, and plants representing prairie, woodland and wetland habitats were installed, to attract birds and butterflies.
Two new education programs were added this year. “Dr. Doolittle’s Wild Animal Show”, an interactive, live action show performed at the Zoo Amphitheater and the Summer Day Camp, where children learned about wildlife and conservation in the Rising Waters Safari Camp. The Conservation and Science Staff, housed in the Sarah Allison Steffee Center, now consists of five full-time scientists who work on a variety of diverse projects. An epidemiology program is directed by Pam Dennis, D.V.M., Ph.D., whose research into phosphate depletion in Black Rhinos has led to improvements in their management and diet in captivity. DreamNight, an invitation-only evening at the zoo for children living with chronic or terminal illnesses made its debut.
Expansion of the Conservation Education and Conservation and Science Programs plus the “TOUCH! Amazing Rays & Sharks”, which attracted nearly 300,000 guests, highlighted 2006. Acquisitions, births and hatchings provided significant additions to our animal population. As part of an international effort to save the ocelot from possible extinction, the Zoo acquired a breeding pair from the Brazilian government under a cooperative agreement with Brazil. The Zoo’s Distance Learning Program went wireless, allowing instructors to teach video classes from almost every corner of the Zoo. Noon Year’s Eve, a daytime party to ring in the New Year debuted.
The Zoo celebrated its 125th anniversary, the Zoological society celebrated its 50th anniversary and Steve Taylor celebrated his 20th year as Zoo Director. The 80-year-old Fulton Road Bridge that spanned the Zoo was demolished.
Construction starts on African Elephant Crossing. The elephants were moved temporarily to the Columbus Zoo while construction continues. Three Cleveland elephant keepers were stationed in Columbus to ease the transition. The giraffe barn was expanded by 4,000 square feet to create a ‘retirement condo’ for Blackie the Nile hippo. Professor Wylde’s Live Animal Show debuts. The Zoo hosted 2 International conferences (Aquarium & Zoo Facilities Association – AZFA and the Association of Zoological Horticulturists – AZH) with nearly 200 people representing 64 zoos and aquariums.
Six Mexican wolves were welcomed to the Wolf Lodge in Northern Trek. A second entrance was opened in Northern Trek for use on busy days and evenings. The Zoo hosted 60 animal care professionals from across the country for 3 day Prosimian Husbandry Workshop. Conservation Quest, an interactive maze teaching children about energy and energy conservation opens. Both gorillas were started on a healthier diet as the zoo began weaning them off processed biscuits, and onto a greener diet. One advantage of the green diet is an increase in fiber and decrease in sugar that the great apes consume. Another is that the greenery is scattered about their enclosure, causing them to forage as they might in the wild, instead of just eating up their cache of biscuits in a single sitting. The diet change is part of a larger drive to improve the health of the gorillas.