Phase III of the Cincinnati Zoo’s Africa opened June 29, 2013 and offers open-air, dramatic views of some of Africa’s most powerful predators – lions and cheetahs. In fact, visitors may even get close enough to count the whiskers on the “king of the jungle!”
In addition to getting super close to lions and cheetahs, Africa includes cascading waterfalls, flowing streams and a communal watering hole that intertwines with the footpath as it winds under a wooden bridge and among naturalistic rock, termite mounds, Vulture Island, and the African lions home – Pride Rock.
Continuing up the path, guests will arrive at a lasting favorite – the Zoo’s Cheetah Encounter in the Cathryn Hilker Running Yard, where cheetahs can be seen racing at top speeds. In addition to cheetahs, visitors can also expect visits from fishing cats, African servals, Anatolian shepherds, and even a red river hog! Cheetah Encounter is free with regular Zoo admission.
Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world and one of the most popular at the Zoo, especially during feeding time. With its new gazebo-style feeding tree house that reaches out into the giraffe yard, guests will not only be eye to eye at these mighty giants, but will also have a breathtaking new view of the entire Africa vista. In addition, a new shade structure and more elbow room will welcome visitors at Giraffe Ridge.
Giraffes won’t be the only ones in Africa experiencing new feeding opportunities! Zoo guests will enjoy dining at the Base Camp Café – an African-themed restaurant. With more seating than ever before, and an expansive deck overlooking the exhibit, the café is a destination unto itself and the perfect spot for guests to refuel before heading out on their own African safari. Renovated restrooms and a brand new, comfortable and private Nursing Nest are located below the café.
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Africa will be the largest and most ambitious wildlife exhibit in Cincinnati Zoo history. The hippo exhibit will be the final, and most anticipated, piece of Africa!
We need your help to make it happen. Please consider making a donation.
Donate to Bring Hippos to Cincinnati
As the ‘greenest zoo in America,’ the Zoo wanted to ensure that this project would be built to Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Africa is on track to achieve a minimum LEED Certified Gold.
The Zoo partnered with the Metropolitan Sewer District to divert all of the rainwater that drains into the site off the storm water grid. Phase I alone replaced more than one acre of pavement with an acre of green space. Upon completion of Africa, nearly eight acres of green space will be added, which will take one-third of the Zoo’s storm water off the grid. Pervious concrete, bio-swales, and a large rainwater re-use tank will be used to pump out the water for irrigation.
To explore opportunities or arrange a personal tour, please contact Reba George Dysart or call (513) 487-3442.
Thank you to the following current donors for their lead gifts to the project:
Africa is a very ambitious project that will bring our guests closer to the animals allowing every visitor a glimpse into life on an African savannah. Exhibits featuring unrestricted views across open spaces combined with unique educational opportunities will bring a slice of life in Africa to Cincinnati. Donors to the project so far have created Phases I, II & III and are providing the fiscal core to finish the exhibit with the help of future supporters.
Dung research in Kenya
The Zoo partners with the African Conservation Centre in Kenya. The Centre’s primary aim is to bring together the people and skills needed to build East Africa’s capacity to conserve wildlife.
The Centre is located in the South Rift Valley of Kenya, stretching from the Maasai Mara National Reserve through Amboseli National Park, and is one of the most spectacular wildlife areas on the planet. Each year, the Zoo, in conjunction with Miami University’s Project Dragonfly, leads an Earth Expeditions course titled Kenya: Wildlife & People in Integrated Landscapes. Up to 20 teachers, primarily from the United States, travel to the South Rift Valley to engage in community-based conservation in this dynamic landscape. This effort builds on the decades-long research of Dr. David Western, former head of the Kenya Wildlife Service, and the centuries-long research of the Maasai pastoralists, who have long co-existed with wildlife in an open grassland ecosystem populated by elephants, lions, giraffes, zebra, wildebeests, and a remarkable diversity of other species. With the rise of nontraditional lifestyles, private ranches, and fenced lands that prevent needed wildlife migrations, communities of the South Rift have recognized the need to understand the impact of these changes and to work together for a better future.
100% of Proceeds Support Olkiramatian Women’s Group in Kenya
While in the AFRICA exhibit at the Zoo visitors will have an opportunity to help one of our conservation mission’s back in Africa. Beaded bracelets, made by the Olkiramatian Women’s Group that manage the Lale enok Resource Center in the South Rift of Kenya, are being sold in the AFRICA exhibit. These bracelets are an unchanging symbol of the Maasai – a tangible cultural icon and a means to maintaining healthy livelihood. The Lale enok Resource Center provides the community with important information including good places to graze cattle, recent lion activity, water sources, etc. The Resource Center also houses lion conservation research teams that track and follow the resident lion prides using GPS collars provided to them by the Zoo.
“The bracelets are a symbol of the coexistence of humans and wildlife – and the Zoo wants to inspire it’s visitors with this message of coexistence in hopes that they will take the sustainability and conservation messages they hear at the Zoo and put them into place in their homes and communities,” said Maynard. “By purchasing a bracelet, Zoo visitors are supporting the coexistence of lions, humans, and other wildlife in the South Rift.”
The Zoo has a long-standing partnership with the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF). Founded in 1990, the CCF’s mission is to be the internationally recognized center of excellence in the conservation of cheetahs and their ecosystems. Each year, the Zoo, in conjunction with Miami University’s Project Dragonfly, leads an Earth Expeditions course titled Namibia: Great Cat Conservation. Up to 20 teachers, primarily from the United States, travel to CCF headquarters in Namibia, which is home to the largest wild population of cheetahs. Loss of habitat and available prey, competition with other predators, conflict with farmers and ranchers, and poaching are taking a heavy toll on wild cheetah populations. Students engage in ongoing research projects at CCF, which include radio tracking, cheetah physiology, ecosystem management, and the design of school and community programs.
From a tall watchtower on the edge of Mbeli Bai, a large swampy clearing in the Congo rainforest, researchers observe how gorillas interact with each other and their environment. The Zoo supports the the Mbeli Bai western lowland gorilla study, located in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. Initiated in 1995, it is the longest-running field study of western lowland gorillas in the wild. Led by Principal Investigator Thomas Breuer, the study provides unique insights into gorilla social organization and dynamics, which are critical to determining the best course of action for gorilla conservation. In addition to scientific study, the researchers also talk to the community about the importance of gorillas. Through Club Ebobo, local children are learning – and helping their parents learn – that over-hunting for bushmeat threatens the survival of gorillas and the health of the forest as a whole. The Zoo’s Primate Center Team Leader, Ron Evans, has traveled to the Congo to assist with the Mbeli Bai study and its educational outreach efforts.