This past Friday, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo held the official opening of the new Circle of Wildlife Carousel. Youth members of the Douglas MacArthur Leadership Academy and the Cleveland Metroparks Adventure Club and their parents joined Metroparks officials for the inaugural ride. The new carousel features 64 exquisitely hand carved and painted animals that were created exclusively for the new Zoo attraction by Mansfield, Ohio based Carousel Works.
"We couldn't be more pleased with the carousel and the whole Circle of Wildlife area," said Executive Zoo Director Dr. Chris Kuhar. "The carousel adds an entirely new dimension to the guest experience the Zoo offers. We know it will be the perfect place for family members of multiple generations to visit and create memories for years to come."
One of the features of the new carousel is that it is a learning experience as well as a fun ride. Above and below each animal are the names of each so that the riders can learn precisely what they are riding. The animals are also grouped according to their natural environment that includes African grassland, tropical forest, tundra and even aquatic. Mixed in the carousel set are eight custom animals that are exclusive to this one carousel and include an Anatolian shepherd, lynx, cardinal tetra (a species of fish), ocelot, ring-tailed lemur, loris, emperor penguin and fossa.
For long time patrons of the Zoo, a familiar site will greet them inside the carousel pavilion that is decorated with twelve of the bird tiles that had been created by Cleveland artist and designer Viktor Schreckengost who originally constructed them for the Zoo’s former Birds of the World Building (1950-2004) which originally occupied the site where the new carousel now sits.
Single ride tickets for the carousel are $3 and $2.50 for Zoo Society members. All day ride passes are available for $8 or $6 for members.
Right next to the carousel pavilion is the new Nature Discovery Ridge play area. One of the functions of the area is to engage children in creative and fun activities as they instinctively discover scientific principals involving water flow by routing water that they have pumped through a series of supplied bamboo pipe halves. The site also has scores of wild habitats and natural elements where the children can roam and explore at will. There is even an all natural kitchen area with wooden bowls, plates and utensils. In short, there is something that every child will be able to relate to and have fun with. An observation deck is available for the parents and caregivers in order to allow the children more freedom with less adult intervention while the parents and caregivers can still keeping a safe eye on their charges.
Future plans for the overall area also include new restroom facilities as well as two new picnic shelters that will hold up to 120 guests each. For groups wishing for a unique place to gather the pavilions will be available for rental and will include single ride and all day ride passes to the carousel.
There are also plans for the Zoo’s Circle of Life to include “Stillwater Place” which will be a rentable event center that will be available for weddings, corporate events, meetings, or trade shows to open by spring 2015.
Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with hours extended to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $12.25 per person, $8.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.