The Akron Zoo has broken another attendance record for 2013. 389,000 people visited the downtown habitat that houses a new exhibit called Grizzly Ridge, one of the newest attractions. David Barnhardt, spokesman for the Akron Zoo said the community really responded to the new exhibit.
"They definitely responded. Once that exhibit opened, we saw record breaking attendance almost everyday after Grizzly Ridge opened in July," said Barnhardt.
Grizzly Ridge houses animals that are indigenous to the Ohio area. Bald eagles, river otters, coyotes, wolves, 65 types of Ohio birds and of course, grizzly bears all make up the popular attraction. On top of that the zoo has a number of other attractions, Barnhardt explained what else happened in 2013.
Barnhardt said "We had two endangered penguins born, we had a Pygmy Slow-Loris birth for only the second time in the zoo's history, we brought in two new Komono Dragons and a new Lion."
The zoo broke a previous record set in 2012.
Dave Barnhardt, Director of Marketing and Guest Services at the Akron Zoo spoke with Ray Horner Thursday morning about the new penguins that will be on display at the Akron Zoo.
Fred Greetham from Fox Sports Ohio and the Orange and Brown Report talks about the Trent Richardson trade with WAKR's Ray Horner.
The Akron Zoo is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Zoo spokesman David Barnhardt says the zoo has come a long way in the past 60 years. This weekend, guests can take a trip down memory lane.
"A new sign just went up yesterday on the front plaza and it's a walk down memory lane. It takes you through the early years," said Barnhardt.
The zoo first opened its doors on May 17, 1953. Visitors born in 1953 or before can get in the zoo for only 60 cents through the weekend.
Adding to the zoo's history, the Mike and Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge is set to open on July 20th featuring an aviary exhibit, otters and bears.
"It will be one of our largest openings in the history of the zoo."
The zoo is also asking visitors to share their fondest memories of the zoo by capturing their stories on video.
On the web: www.akronzoo.org
The Akron Zoo has announced an opening date for their newest exhibit.
David Barnhardt, Director of Marketing & Guest Services for the Akron Zoo tells AkronNewsNow.com this is an exciting venture for the zoo and its patrons.
"The exhibit will open on July 20 of 2013 and, so people will expect to see a lot of exciting things when it opens," Barnhardt said.
The Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge will be one of the largest openings in the zoo's history including not only grizzly bears, but red wolves, coyotes, and bald eagles.
Barnhardt says the zoo had grizzlies before, just not for a number of years.
He says the new exhibit will be located on the hillside of the zoo over by the Conservation Carousel and extends to the Farmland Exhibit
The exhibit will bear the names of two of the biggest supporters of the zoo, Mike and Mary Stark.
The Akron Zoo now has an opening date for their newest addition. Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge exhibit will open to the public on July 20, 2013. Grizzly Ridge will be one of the largest openings in the zoo’s 60 year history and will include over six different animal species, highlighted by grizzly bears.
In addition to grizzly bears, Grizzly Ridge will include some animals never seen before at the Akron Zoo including red wolves and coyotes. River otters and bald eagles, which were previously at the zoo, will make their return with brand new exhibits. The space will also include a walk-in aviary with native Ohio birds.
The zoo will incorporate some state-of-the art experiences in the new exhibit space. The grizzly bear exhibit will include a training wall which will enable people to get a behind-the-scenes sneak peak at how the keepers facilitate training a grizzly bear. A fully enclosed slide will be built that runs through the otter pool and kids will have the chance to slide through with otters swimming around them.
The exhibit will bear the names Mike and Mary Stark, after two of the zoo’s most ardent supporters and friends. Mike has been a zoo board member since 1994 and is the past Chairman of the Board.
The new exhibit will be nestled on the hillside of the zoo near the Conservation Carousel and extends up to the Farmland Exhibit. The area previously was home to Monkey Island, otters, waterfowl, tortoises, and bald eagles and the old bear exhibit that was not operable anymore and was built in 1918.
The snow leopard cubs that were born on May 14, 2012 at the Akron Zoo now have names.
David Barnhardt Director of Marketing & Guest Services at Akron Zoo says that many people voted for the chance to name the cubs.
"We've had over 3800 people vote and the two winning names were Sabu and Raj."
The zoo narrowed the names down to five choices for people to vote on from August 10-20, 2012.
Barnhardt said the cubs' names had special meaning attached to them.
"When we do our naming contests, we try to have some educational value within the name, and so Sabu, which was our highest submitted name means snow leopard and Raj means king or ruler in India."
Both Sabu and Raj are on exhibit daily from 10:15-11:45 a.m.
Snow leopards are an endangered species and there are fewer then 4,000 in the wild.
The snow leopard cubs that were born on May 14, 2012 at the Akron Zoo now have names. A public naming contest, with over 3,852 votes, concluded Monday, August 20, 2012 and the two names with the most votes are Sabu (Sah boo) and Raj (rah j).
The zoo narrowed the names down to five choices for people to vote on from August 10-20, 2012. All the names had ties to either snow leopards or their habitat. Sabu, which received 974 votes, is the Tibetan word for snow leopard and Raj, which got 920 votes, means king or ruler in India. The non-winning names were Tai (tie), which means mountain in Mongolic language and is where the snow leopards inhabit; Layan (LAY-an) which is short for Himalayan Mountains, where snow leopards are indigenous to, and also means gentle and soft; and Kovo (cove-O) meaning strong in India.
Sabu and Raj are currently on exhibit daily from 10:15 – 11:45 a.m. They will continue to be on exhibit everyday during those hours for the time being until they are bigger and can be out longer.
Everyone that had the winning combination of names was entered into a drawing and one person was selected to win a sponsorship of the cubs for one year which includes a certificate, a photo and a stuffed snow leopard toy. The snow leopard cub naming contest had even more votes than the popular octopus naming contest the zoo held earlier this summer, which garnered 2,220 votes.
Snow leopards are an endangered species and only nine cubs have been born this year that are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) in the United States. Snow leopards are endangered primarily due to loss of habitat, illegal poaching for their pelts and body parts and killings by local herders when a snow leopard has preyed on their livestock. There are only 155 snow leopards in the SSP in the U.S. and there are believed to be as few as 4,000 left in the wild
Most of the residents at the Akron Zoo are embracing the cold temperatures.
While some zoo visitors may think the animals stay indoors or hibernate, close to 85 percent of the creatures are viewable all year round.
Akron Zoo Spokesperson David Barnhardt says the zoo has focused on obtaining animals that can endure snow and ice.
The South American penguins even have their bath drawn for them daily.
"We do heat their water to a certain temperature and they don't mind coming out at all," Barnhardt said.
The bright pink flamingos enjoy staying outside in the snow, but zookeepers do have to monitor them when it's icy.
"Because of those thin, fragile legs, they can slip on the, so if it's icy, we have to move them in," he said.
Zookeepers assist in moving animals that want a warm place to rest. Barnhardt says they often reorganize space at the zoo's animal hospital and inside additional buildings.
Starting this month, the zoo will host Saturday programs. On Saturdays in January, guests may visit the zoo for its Cabin Feaver Reilever program. The Akron Zoo is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April.
On the web: AkronZoo.org