Exploring the Cleveland Zoo

Bigger and More Interactive than Expected

While we were visiting Cleveland one of the field trips I was most excited about was to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Exploring a zoo can be so exciting because each zoo is unique. The Cleveland Zoo was much larger than I anticipated and I especially found their indoor facilities to be well laid out and very interactive. 

Exploring the Cleveland Zoo



The Cleveland Zoo Rainforest

Because it was winter, of course, we wanted to be indoors as much as possible. So we started in The Rainforest. I must say I was very impressed with this facility. It is larger than you imagine with 2 full floors of exhibitss. They incorporate seamlessly all three of the world’s major rainforest ecosystems, from South America, Africa and Asia. With it’s 25 foot waterfall right at the entrance to an actual rainforest thunderstorm, you and your children will be delighted, surprised and thrilled by what you discover inside this Cleveland Zoo hidden gem. 

Be sure to look above you when you are upstairs in the Aviary because over 50 species of birds fly freely throughout the space. Downstairs you will see bats, frogs, and porcupines as well as swimming creatures, orangutans, cats and reptiles.   Like I said, I was very impressed with this facility and you will be too.

Elephant Crossing

After leaving the rainforest we headed into the main part of the zoo. We were immediately greeted by the flamingoes and the elephants. Even though it was cold, 2 of the elephants were outside. These elephants are African elephants and are much larger than the elephants at the Columbus Zoo which are Asian. They also have an indoor facility and while we were in there the zoo staff had several hands on displays set up. The first was a display of elephant teeth, tusks and hide. So Little Man and I were able to touch and feel these samples. It was quite interesting to learn about the teeth and how they grow into the back of the jaw but get pushed forward toward the front of the mouth. Like a conveyer belt of teeth and that over their lifetime they will have 6 different sets of teeth. 

Additionally, there were zookeepers present with a baby aardvark and a baby hedgehog. So again we were able to touch these amazing creatures that aren’t native to the area we live in. I was surprised by the feel of the aardvark, while hard and leathery in feeling I had imagine more of a shell like a turtle. The hedgehog, Rosy was her name, was super adorable and felt bristly like a brush. 

Lions at Cleveland Zoo

After leaving the elephant crossing we headed over to take a look at the Lions. Oh My! These lions were awake and lively. The display is open with the lions being at a lower level than humans, and they are surrounded by a solid wall so they can’t get out, but no fencing or glass exists between you and them so you can really SEE the lions. On this particular day, there were 2 female lions in the exhibit and one male, the females caught a duck that had landed in the exhibit. The females, like a house cat would was playing with their food, the male lion went over and took it away from them and set about eating the duck. At one point the female was trying to sneak over to the male and get the duck back, but he turned his head and roared his warning to her, and she backed off. To say that what we witnessed was delightful would be and understatement. Both,  Little Man and I were thrilled to see these lions being so animated.

Primates, Cats & Aquatics

We then got on a tram which took us up the hill to Primates, Cat and Aquatic Building. Again, this indoor facility was vast and offered a variety of exhibits. Jonathan and I were especially excited to watch the gorillas interactions. It was feeding time for them. The zoo keeper had separated the male and female into 2 separate exhibits. Then she gave them a burlap bag filled with what looked like green beans. The female ate through her bag pretty quickly but there were a few in the bottom of the bag, she seemed to be having trouble getting them out, so she just put the bag on her head and finished her meal. It was very funny to watch. Little Man was especially excited by this. 

The aquatics center was delightful as well. It was there that Little Man got to see Sea Horses, which he had been studying in his science book just the week before. He also saw sharks and a rays. There are many variety of fish in smaller tanks, one especially was intriguing to me, it was the rock fish. If someone hadn’t pointed it out to me I never would have seen it. It is covered in algae and looks like a rock. 

We missed the tram back down the hill, so we walked, on our way back we saw some kangaroos through a fence. The australian exhibit was closed for the winter. Around Water Fowl lake they have a display of large flight birds, we saw the sea eagle and the condor. The exhibit is large enough that the massive creatures can fly and we saw the wingspan of both birds. Again, Little Man  was delighted by these amazing animals. 

Scenes from Cleveland Zoo

It was about this time that he began to complain of being tired. The zoo was our 4th field trip in 5 days. I was tired too, but I wanted to try and see as much as possible. We headed to see the Giraffes, which were inside but there was a viewing window. We also got a glimpse of the Rhinos as we walked past their exhibit they were heading back inside.

At this point, Little Man asked if we could leave, so we headed back to the entrance. There is a Northern track that we did not see at all. It looks to be fabulous by what I saw on the webpage. 

If You Go

  • Adult (12 and up) $13
  • Child (Under 12) $9 
  • Parking is Free
  • There are several options for food, but I think taking a lunch would be a good option for families on a budget.
  • Tuesdays are Homeschool Days, but you must be preregistered to participate. Be sure to check out their website for more information. 
  • They have a wide variety of educational programs so be sure to check those out on their website before you go to see if you can benefit from one of the programs.
  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Living in Central Ohio and being close to the Columbus Zoo, which is a great zoo, I had expected the Cleveland Zoo to be smaller. But the reality is the Cleveland Zoo is a large, dynamic and fantastic zoo. Whether you go in the winter or in the summer months you will find a wealth of interactive and exciting exhibits.

So, have you been to the Cleveland Zoo? What is your favorite zoo to go to?

Renée at Great Peace Academy



This post is part of iHomeschool Network’s Best Homeschool Field Trips link up.


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