Wetland Reclamation


Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world and are comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. They provide numerous benefits to people, fish, and wildlife including protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing water and mitigating floods, and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods.

There are around 300 species of native plants growing at Bowyer Farm including endangered or plants of special concern for regional conservation organizations.

To date, we have has constructed 2 wetland/grassland systems, restoring a total of 100 acres, and welcoming new and old wildlife, including 205 bird species.


There are 24-acres of land that have been determined to have been a natural wetland at one time. Over time, this portion of land has been used as farmland producing soybeans and corn. Through support and funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Zoo is now able to take that 24 acres and reclaim it as its original state of a wet sedge meadow, or wetland, eventually returning the floral and faunal diversity that once was there.

To get started, we conducted a tile search as well as completed dike work and excavation during the summer of 2012. A “bioblitz” was conducted to establish a baseline for current species residing in the area, and determine what species could be attracted to return. Since then, we have constructed vernal pools, planted trees and established a prairie buffer. A variety of nest boxes and houses for native wildlife, such as barn owls, martins and bats, have also been erected. To date, over 170 species of birds have been seen at the property.

Long term, the possibilities for Bowyer Farm are endless. The main goal is to return the area to its original wildlife, with a rich array of plant and animal species that historically are naturally occurring to Warren County. Some of these species include, but are not limited to, upland passerines, bobwhite quail, tree swallows, bluebirds, prothonotory warblers, American kestrels, purple martins, screech owls, saw whet owls, various waterfowl, snakes, salamanders and butterflies such as Zebra swallowtail, spicebush and monarchs. Ideally, Bowyer Farm will become a green oasis in a sea of suburbia.

 Native Plant Program

A major component of the farm is our Native Plant Program. This program grows thousands of native plants each year. These plants are then used at the Zoo in our landscapes, planted out into the restoration projects, or sold at our annual native plant sales. These sales are held annually and are open to the public.

Want to help support our conservation and sustainability mission at Bowyer? You can help, by planting native plants that help pollinators, including bees, and joining our Plant for Pollinators Challenge.

Browse for Animals

While respecting the conservation theme of the property, the Zoo is also growing food for our animals. Called ‘browse’, birch, willow, hackberry and other species are grown at the farm and collected for distribution at the Zoo. Hay and straw are also farmed at the site. We have planted thousands of trees on the property, which helps pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as well as provide fresh, local food for our animals. Over the past few years, all CZBG’s hay needs have been met from our own farm.

In 2019, 4000 trees were planted as browse for animals at the Zoo to have the opportunity to eat fresh browse year long.

Read more at Cincinnati.com


The Zoo is working to boost pollinator populations, which are in severe decline worldwide, right here in our own community. At Bowyer Farm, we are propagating pollinator-friendly plants, restoring pollinator habitat, and helping support honeybee populations through beekeeping.

Cheetah Run

Imagine the cheetah yard at the Zoo, only much bigger! The cheetahs have about five acres of open terrain where they can run at the farm.

To get a view of this awesome yard, check out this great video of Kris who took a run out there recently.

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In the News

In 2020, the Cincinnati Zoo and Warren Correctional Institution partnered to save the planet!  WCI inmates have been growing milkweed and blazing star (liatris) in the prison’s greenhouse for the past 1 ½ years, and WCI staff members planted about 300 of those plants yesterday at the Zoo’s neighboring farm (Bowyer Farm). To launch the project, the Zoo provided seeds and worked with WCI’s vocational staff to educate inmates about the importance of pollinator plants, specifically milkweed’s role is sustaining the monarch butterfly population.  In addition to providing plants for Bowyer Farm, WCI has planted milkweed on their campus and has raised dozens of monarchs!  WCI’s warden compared the butterfly transformation to the belief that people can transform and be rehabilitated.  Both organizations hope to continue the collaborative effort to educate, inspire, and benefit the environment.

In 2019, the Cincinnati Zoo planted almost 3,000 trees at the Zoo’s Bowyer Farm in Warren County. These trees were planted for our browse program to be a renewable resource for feeding our animals. Elephants, Gorillas, Rhinos, Giraffe and Okapi to name a few of the intended recipients.