The new Fulton Road Bridge that spans the Zoo was reopened after more than 3 years construction. Three female African elephants returned home after two years at the Columbus Zoo prior to the opening of African Elephant Crossing in May 2011. Willy, a 31-year-old African bull elephant who stands 11 feet at the shoulder and weighs 13,000 pounds was acquired from Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando. He will be the Cleveland Zoo's first bull elephant and is the largest animal ever housed at the Zoo. An endangered Goodfellow's tree kangaroo emerged from her mother's pouch for the first time at the Zoo. This was a rare sight as there are currently only eight such animals on exhibit in U.S. zoos.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's newest exhibit, African Elephant Crossing, opened on May 5, 2011. Spread over five acres of lightly wooded grasslands, African Elephant Crossing features two large yards for roaming, ponds for swimming, expanded sleeping quarters and a heated outdoor range. The naturalistic habitat is capable of housing up to 10 elephants at a time, including at least one bull and eventually calves. African Elephant Crossing is also home to meerkats, naked mole rats, an African rock python and a spectacular collection of colorful birds. Kallie, a female elephant was acquired from the International Conservation Center near Pittsburgh. Shenga, a 28-year-old African female elephant was acquired from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. Willy, the first full-grown male African elephant at the Zoo since 1962, arrived safely from Disney's Animal Kingdom near Orlando, Florida. Willy is the largest animal to ever live at the Zoo. He weighs approximately 13,000 pounds and stands 11 feet tall at the shoulder. A free iPhone app was premiered, including maps, animal facts, location of amenities, etc. Trevor, the 45th baby giraffe was delivered at the Zoo in July. Two 4-month-old Grizzly bear brothers were acquired from Montana. Two additional cubs, a brother and sister, arrived from Wyoming. Two endangered species of monkeys at the Zoo produced three new offspring. They are two golden lion tamarins and a francois' langur, both endangered because of habitat destruction. A pair of golden lion tamarins were born at the Zoo. They are among the most endangered mammals on earth. Golden lion tamarins are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) organized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums in which accredited member zoos and institutions collaborate to manage the population of endangered species. The Zoo has contributed 19 golden lion tamarin births to the SSP since 1997
After 24 years of service, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Director Steve Taylor retired at the end of 2012. Cleveland Metroparks named Christopher Kuhar, Ph.D. the new director of the Zoo. He becomes the tenth director in Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's 130-year history. Three new animal species debuted at the Zoo in 2012, including an aye-aye, which is a nocturnal primate, a subspecies of Asiatic wild ass known as the Persian onager and two dingoes. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Cleveland Zoological Society support many important conservation projects around the world, from North America and Latin America to Africa and Asia. The Zoo debuted ‘Quarters for Conservation‘ to allow guests to take a direct role in those efforts by helping the Zoo decide where its conservation funds should go. For each admission sold visitors will receive a token, then use their token at a kiosk display to vote for one of three ongoing Zoo field projects. The Zoo rescued two adult female African lions from a private exotic animal rescue organization in southern Ohio. A male eastern black rhinoceros calf was born July 1. The birth marks the start of a third generation of rhinos here. The calf is the offspring of Kibibbi, 8, and Jimma, 22, and it makes the Zoo's other female adult rhino, Inge, a grandmother. African Elephant Crossing, received two prestigious awards last week during the annual Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The AZA awarded African Elephant Crossing with the Top Honor in the Education Award category and a Significant Achievement Award in the Exhibit Design category. Thousands of tiny tadpole travelers left Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Monday for a 1,800-mile journey to Puerto Rico, part of the Zoo's contribution to the Puerto Rican crested toad Species Survival Plan, managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). This amphibian species is critically endangered, and the Zoo, along with the AZA and partner institutions both in Puerto Rico and here in the U.S., have been working together to breed the toads for release into the wild. The Zoo sent tadpoles to Puerto Rico in 2010, but the current clutch of approximately 4,500 specimens is a much larger group.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo reached a significant milestone in 2012 - 20 consecutive years with more than a million visitors through its gates. There were a number of births in the spring, including a baby black howler monkey, a baby Reed titi monkey and a litter of baby capybaras. The Zoo breeds capybaras as part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Species Survival Program which are cooperative breeding and management groups that maintain healthy and genetically viable zoo animal populations. The African Elephant Crossing exhibit earned the Gold certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program. The LEED program is the nationally accepted construction industry standard for green buildings. Some key factors that contributed to the exhibit's Gold certification include: more than 90 percent of construction waste was recycled and diverted from a landfill, about a third of the materials used to build the exhibit came from recycled materials, and the exhibit's state-of-the-art water filtration system cut water usage from about 26.3 million gallons per year to about 7.5 million. The first annual Steve H. Taylor African Conservation Award, created the prior year by the Cleveland Zoological Society in honor of retiring Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Director Steve Taylor, was awarded to George Owoyesigire, a senior wildlife officer for the Ugandan Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities. The Zoo had its first ever birth of a baby giant anteater. The Zoo has exhibited this species in The RainForest since it opened in 1992, but had never had a successful breeding pair of anteaters. The baby anteater is a welcome addition not just to The RainForest, but to the managed nationwide population of giant anteaters as well. The Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan for giant anteaters, which are classified as vulnerable in the wild. Two rare members of the crocodile family were put on exhibit in The RainForest - a pair of critically endangered gharials that were born at a conservation institution in their home range country of India. Gharials are related to crocodiles and alligators, but they have a much more slender snout which is adapted for their fish-heavy diet in the wild, as opposed to crocodiles which often take large land animals as prey. They are classified as critically endangered in the wild.