CINCINNATI – NEW in 2010 – Cincinnati Zoo visitors will meet the deadliest reptile on earth, welcome one of the most charismatic and fun-loving animals on the planet, watch the fastest animal in the world and play at the Zoo like never before! The Zoo will build on the success and appeal of improving the visitor experience with new and engaging exhibits, renovated play areas for families, expanded shows, new animals and more animal encounters throughout the park, to give visitors even more chances to see animals up close and personal. “We’re shifting our Visitor Experience Initiative into overdrive in an effort to inspire visitors with wildlife,” said Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo Executive Director. “From dragons and manatees to cheetahs and more play for kids, 2010 offers more animals and more fun!” Last year, the Zoo opened the Historic Vine Street Village in an effort to make the Zoo more welcoming and visitor-friendly. This addition has brought with it more parking and self-ticketing kiosks, helping to decrease waiting times and make the Zoo more accessible for families. New family restrooms, retail shops and food options were added to create a comfortable and exciting place for visitors to relax and enjoy their Zoo experience. In April 2010 the Zoo will welcome two new manatees to Manatee Springs. With the departure of the Zoo’s former manatees, “Slip” and “Lil’ Joe” in October 2009, the Zoo has had time to invest in the already-popular exhibit. Through the generosity of a private donor, the Zoo was able to make critical updates to aging rockwork, install a new and improved filtration system which focuses on sustainability, re-carpet the public areas and update the interactive kiosks, thus ensuring Manatee Springs remains one of the most popular family stops during any visit. Also opening in April, is the Zoo’s newly renovated Spaulding Children’s Zoo. With a fresh look at the Children’s Zoo nursery, a new and improved “Be the Animal” play-scape and an expanded contact yard, the Children’s Zoo will be a place for families to gather and friends to meet. The play area will feature synthetic mulch, a slide, crawl tunnel, pole to “hang like a potto”, monkey bars to “swing like a monkey”, balance beam to “balance like a cat”, updated turtle shells, new spider web and more. In addition, the expanded contact yard will boast more space and more opportunities than ever before to interact with our friendliest animal residents. Opening Memorial Day weekend, the Zoo will highlight a much larger Cheetah Encounter exhibit which means for room for the animals and guests. The cheetahs’ running space will be 40% larger (50 feet longer and 40 feet wider) than the previous Cheetah Encounter yard. Additional seating and shaded bleachers will be added to benefit Zoo visitors. In addition, behind the scenes upgrades were also made to improve the holding areas. The completion of this project marks phase II completion of the Zoo’s Africa project. Finally, on June 5, the Komodo dragon returns to the Zoo with the opening of its newest exhibit, “Dragons!” In addition to the new Komodo dragon, the exhibit will also feature several species of monitor lizards, highlighting the largest, longest, smallest and some of the most colorful monitor lizards in the world. The Zoo hasn’t had a Komodo in over four years, with the passing of Naga in 2005 and is excited to introduce the public to our new Komodo when he arrives this summer. In addition to these exciting announcements, the Zoo season is packed with special events that will delight the entire family. The Cincinnati Zoo opens daily at 9 a.m. Zoo admission is half-priced January 4 – February 28 only. Regular admission prices are $14/adults, $9/children & seniors (2-12, 62 +) and children under two are FREE. Parking is $7. For more information, visit www.cincinnatizoo.org.