The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, one of the city’s crown jewels, is about three miles north of Fountain Square. Set on 66 acres and surrounded by some of the city’s original neighborhoods, it is the nation’s second oldest zoo and home to the most exotic animals and plants on earth. In 1987, the Zoo was designated a National Historic Landmark because of three architecturally significant buildings: the Elephant House, Passenger Pigeon Memorial and the zoo’s oldest building, the Reptile House. Over the years, the zoo consistently has been rated one of the best in the country.
Local philanthropist and amateur naturalist, Andrew Erkenbrecher, was the driving force behind the founding of the Zoological Society of Cincinnati in 1873. Two years later, it opened for business on its present site with a small but diverse collection of animals that included six raccoons, two elk, eight monkeys, two grizzly bears, a tiger, an alligator, a retired circus elephant, a buffalo and more than 400 birds. Today, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has more than 500 animal and 3,000 plant species and is seen as a leader and innovator for conservation and education.
The Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife, founded in 1986, is recognized worldwide for its work to preserve species disappearing from our planet, such as the Sumatran Rhino, the cheetah and a number of native American plants.
In 1975, the zoo partnered with Cincinnati schools to form Zoo Academy, a four-year college-preparatory program for students interested in pursuing careers in zoology. Other educational activities annually involve more than 300,000 students in the region.
In recent years, the zoo’s initiatives toward sustainability have attracted attention from around the globe. By scrutinizing every aspect of its daily operations, the zoo is reducing its impact on the environment by managing its waste, employing green building techniques, conserving and recycling water and turning to the sun for energy. Two years ago, a four-acre canopy of solar panels was installed over the zoo’s parking lot that supplies around 20 percent of its annual energy needs. All of the efforts make it a role model for zoos across the nation and the Greater Cincinnati community.
Click here for a list of upcoming events at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.