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CINCINNATI – This Saturday, May 21, the Cincinnati Zoo will reopen the Cat House under its new name, Night Hunters.   This new multi-sensory journey through the wild at night features a variety of cats like the clouded leopard, Pallas’ cats, sand cat, fishing cat, caracal, and the black-footed cat, as well as other nocturnal predators such as the Eurasian eagle owl, potto, vampire bats, fennec fox, aardvark, and Burmese python.

The journey through Night Hunters culminates in an open interactive area where guests can meet a zookeeper, witness the fishing cat’s supreme aquatic hunting skills as it dives after minnows and experience new interactive kiosks.  The kiosks invite visitors to participate in the Zoo’s Saving Species Wild Cat Campaign (funded by the National Science Foundation).  Here, guests can create a digital identification sign for several cat species that will be displayed on a rotational basis at the species’ exhibit within Night Hunters.  Visitors can choose from a selection of images and texts to create their signs and they have the option to email their creations to friends and family to encourage them to participate in wild cat conservation, too.

Behind the scenes, the Zoo has made major upgrades to the ventilation system to significantly decrease the smell of cat urine – a smell that has been synonymous with the Cat House for years. “The Zoo completely replaced the existing HVAC system in the building, installing a much more energy efficient model that will properly separate the animal spaces from the public spaces, said Mark Fisher, Senior Director of Facilities and Sustainability at the Cincinnati Zoo. “ This new system will save the Zoo money on utilities and will dramatically reduce the potency of the cat urine smell.”

A new cougar exhibit featuring the Zoo’s two young cougars, Joseph and Tecumseh, is scheduled to open next month.

The indoor Night Hunters exhibit is Phase I of a much larger outdoor Cat Canyon expansion which is scheduled to open in full by 2013.  The expanded Cat Canyon will link the Night Hunters experience with the current Tiger Canyon exhibits and include new space for cougars and snow leopards.  Cat Canyon aims to provide guests with a new, exciting adventure into the world of our great predators, the wild cats, while strengthening our commitment to the conservation of threatened species through education and scientific research in the wild and at the Zoo.

Night Hunters is part of the Cincinnati Zoo’s Cat Canyon Project presented by The Spaulding Foundation.  Generous donations also from the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pichler,  Mr. and Mrs. R. Kerry Clark, The H.B., E. W. & F.R. Luther Charitable Foundation, Winfried L. and Emil L. Barrows Fund,  John Hauck Foundation and the Dorothy M. Kersten Charitable Trust.

Cat Canyon will be closing in August 2011 in order to begin Phase II construction. For more information on Night Hunters.