Nocturnal House at the Cincinnati Zoo Says Goodnight

Posted May 11, 2011

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s 47-year-old Nocturnal House will be closing its doors to the public the weekend of Friday, the 13th, appropriately.  With the opening of the new Night Hunters exhibit on May 21, the last day to experience the Zoo’s Nocturnal House will be Sunday, May 15.

Nocturnal favorites like vampire bats, pottos, aardvarks, fennec foxes, Indian giant fruit bats, and Garnett’s galagos, will be relocating to their new home at Night Hunters – phase I of the larger Cat Canyon project.  This is much more than a re-opening of the Cat House.  Night Hunters will feature more than 20 animal exhibits and invites visitors to become the prey, inside a virtual exhibit with up-close encounters, 4D special effects, interactive signage and much more!

“While these are exciting times at the Zoo, the closing it relatively bittersweet,” said Mike Dulaney, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo. “As the Head Keeper in that building for nearly a decade, I’ll be sad to see it go.  But I know that both the animals and the guests will really enjoy this new experience at Night Hunters.”

The Zoo’s Nocturnal House was converted in 1964, from the depression-era animal hospital to 12 individual exhibits. At that time, the Nocturnal House was one of only three in the United Sates and was one of the earliest exhibits where the normal light cycles were switched allowing Zoo visitors to look into the life of Nocturnal animals when they were most active.

With the success of the original exhibit and the growing number of animals, in the mid 1970’s, the Nocturnal House went through another renovation into the current-day exhibit.  The new walk-in exhibit style created a coexisting environment where multiple animals could live within the same display and the lighting was changed to a dim blue light decreasing the harshness of the original red.

The Nocturnal House has brought much success to the preservation and breeding of nocturnal animals. Some of the nocturnal stars are the vampire bats, which were hand collected by Cincinnati Zoo keepers on an excursion to Mexico, for the original exhibit.  One of the rarest attractions, the potto, originates from Africa and the Zoo houses six of these exotic primates with only 14 living in the United States.

Night Hunters opens May 21 and is free with general admission.

The world famous Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden was rated the #1 attraction locally and one of the top zoos in the nation by Zagat Survey.  It has also been recognized by Child Magazine as one of “The 10 Best Zoos for Kids.”  Over one million people visit the Zoo’s award-winning exhibits, and more than 500 animal and 3000 plant species annually. The Zoo is an accredited member of the American Zoo & Aquarium Association (AZA) and the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (AABGA), is internationally known for its success in the protection and propagation of endangered animals and plants, and engages in research and conservation projects worldwide.