The Cincinnati Zoo has been dedicated to sustainability and conservation not only on grounds within its Avondale location but at its off-grounds property as well. In 1995, a 529-acre farm called Bowyer Farm was willed to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden with the guideline that it could never be developed unless it is to further the mission of the Zoo.
Since then, the property has grown to 600+ acres, and includes:
- wetland restoration
- native plant sales & propagation
- animal feed harvesting
- cheetah run area
- sun and sheep farming
Anyone wishing to volunteer for the Bowyer Farm Wetland project, please contact Brian Jorg at [email protected]. Please include any special abilities, such as planting/gardening, birding, carpentry (able to construct bird boxes), etc.
Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world and are comparable to rainforests 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.
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 of Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s hay needs have been met from our own farm.
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.