The much anticipate wait for the opening of the new Cleveland Metroparks Zoo “Circle of Wildlife Carousel” and “Nature Discovery Ridge” is nearly here. Among the animals represented on the new ride will be an elephant, a polar bear, a graceful cheetah, a playful baby gorilla and an elegant trumpeter swan. In all there will be sixty-four hand carved animals for visitors to choose from when the carousel opens later this month. The carvings are the work of Mansfield, Ohio based Carousel Works and are being installed in a new pavilion in the newly designed Circle of Wildlife area at the Zoo.
"The Zoo is very excited to bring this beautiful carousel to Cleveland," said Executive Zoo Director Dr. Chris Kuhar. "The Circle of Wildlife area will provide perfect opportunities for making family memories and add an entirely new dimension to the guest experience the Zoo offers."
The various animal reproductions will be set as groups on the carousel in accordance to their natural environment from which they represent. This includes African grassland, tropical forest and tundra. Included in the mix will be eight custom animals that have never been found on a carousel up until now such as Anatolian shepherd, lynx, cardinal tetra (a species of fish), ocelot, ring-tailed lemur, loris, emperor penguin and fossa.
For long time visitors of the Zoo, something old will be added to the pavilion housing the carousel. Twelve bird tiles that were originally created by acclaimed artist and designer Viktor Schreckengost for the original Birds of the World Building (1950 to 2004) will be on display.
Single ride tickets for the carousel will be $3 and $2.50 for Zoo Society members. All day ride passes will be available for $8 or $6 for members.
Adjacent to the carousel is the new Nature Discovery Ridge play area, also scheduled to open in late May, which will engage children's imaginations and inspire them to come out and play through the use of wild habitats and natural elements like rocks, water and trees. Kids will be able to explore, climb, and best of all, have fun reconnecting with nature and letting their imaginations run wild. An observation deck for parents and caregivers will overlook the play area.
New restroom facilities, a food concessions area and two new picnic shelters with a capacity of 120 guests each are part of the Circle of Wildlife area's development as well. Pavilion rental packages include single ride and all day ride passes on the carousel. Future plans for this area of the Zoo include building a rentable events center adjacent to the carousel for weddings, corporate events, meetings, or trade shows to open by spring 2015.
The total cost for the first wave of development in the Circle of Wildlife area is $2.7 million. The Cleveland Zoological Society has committed to raising $2.2 million through private donations. Construction of the future events facility is estimated at $2.3 million. The Zoo's longtime contracted caterer, ARAMARK, has committed $1 million toward the construction of the event center. The Zoo Society has committed $300,000 and the other $1 million will be funded by Cleveland Metroparks.
Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 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.
For more information, visit clevelandmetroparks.com/zoo or call (216) 661-6500.