Next phase of Cincinnati Zoo's 'Africa' exhibit opens this weekend

Source: Cincinnati Zoo
Source: Cincinnati Zoo

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden invites visitors to experience the spirit of Africa during the opening of Phase III of its newest exhibit, which opens to the public on June 29.

Africa will come alive as you journey through this open-vista exhibit featuring some of the country's most beautiful animals, including a lion, cheetah and giraffe, to name a few.

Visitors will come face to face with the Zoo's two new African lions through a 12-foot-tall glass wall in their new 11,200 square-foot exhibit. Visitors can also see the Zoo's herd of Maasai giraffe from the newly expanded Giraffe Deck which now features a covered Treehouse that reaches out into the giraffe yard, getting visitors closer than ever to the Zoo's tallest residents.

In addition, there is a new Circle of Love animal encounter area where guests can meet unique African animals, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and a lush, new African cheetah exhibit. Right next to the cheetah exhibit guests will find Base Camp Café, the Zoo's new African themed dining facility, featuring more indoor dining space and a new, largely expanded outside deck overlooking the African savannah.

"Because most people don't get the opportunity to visit Africa, taking in the natural beauty of its landscape and wildlife, the Zoo has decided to bring Africa to you," said Thane Maynard, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Zoo. "Africa is what most people think of when they picture wild animals in their natural habitat.  Our hope is for Zoo visitors to leave here feeling connected with Africa and feeling inspired to help save wildlife in wild places. We want them to experience their own African safari – one that they can enjoy in the near future and remember for a lifetime."

As with all new construction, the Zoo will be pursuing LEED Gold Certification on AFRICA.  The AFRICA site restored almost the entire area into new habitat from an existing parking lot, making it green right from the start.  The exhibit also features underground storage tanks that hold roughly 400,000 gallons of water that is collected, stored and reused on site.  Additionally, the water is used for irrigation and supplying polar bears and sea lion exhibits with make-up water.

While in AFRICA Zoo visitors will have an opportunity to help one of the Zoo's conservation mission's back in Africa. Beaded bracelets, made by the Olkiramatian Women's Group that manage the Lale enok Resource Center in the South Rift of Kenya, will be sold in the AFRICA exhibit.

Phases I & II of AFRICA, the first of five phases, were completed in 2010 and included an expanded yard for the Maasai giraffe, a new greater flamingo exhibit, and a new and improved Cheetah Encounter.

The Zoo is still in the midst of a capital campaign to complete Phases IV and V, needing roughly $12 million, which will bring Zebra, gazelles and some of Africa's most beautiful birds to the Savannah portion of the exhibit.  The Zoo will finish Phase V with a much anticipated hippo exhibit.

AFRICA is free with regular admission.

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