Sunday, October 4, 2015

Toledo Zoo named BEST ZOO in the United States

We always make a special effort a few times per year to take a road trip with our kids to visit the TOLEDO ZOO because it really is a great park and a nice change of pace with different exhibits and animals on display to enjoy from our own local Detroit Zoo which with our annual membership itself is a pretty frequent destination for our family.  So it really wasn't that much of a surprise when we heard that this Midwestern factory town's zoo was named by USA TODAY as the "Best Zoo in the USA" and "one of the top 10 zoos in the U.S." by Family Fun Magazine. The Toledo Zoo is home to more than 9,000 animals representing over 800 species.  It also just completed a new 178,000 gallon aquarium so that a visit to the zoo not only lets you observe land animals but also takes you under the sea.

Because the Detroit Zoo is just a few minute drive from our house we've become pretty accustomed to that place so making a trip to the Toledo Zoo is always a special treat to check out new things.  My kids favorite three features of the Toledo Zoo ( the hippoquarium, elephant exhibit & salt water aquarium)  aren't available to see at our local zoo making the experience out of the ordinary and extra special for them.  These exhibits really provide a close up views of these creatures allowing for some extraordinary experiences.

The Hippoquarium

Visitors to this exhibit are treated to a view of the underwater world of Nile hippopotamus.  This 360,000 gallon pool has a filter system that cleans 8,000 gallons of water every 90 minutes to help provide a clear closeup view of the hippos as they lounge and wander about underwater.  My kids always are thrilled when they have an up close encounter with these humongous creatures.

Elephants of the Savanna

Speaking of larger creatures, right next door to the hippoquarium is the elephant enclosure.  Whenever my daughter brings up a trip to the Toledo Zoo the first thing she references is wanting to go see the elephants.  The Toledo Zoo enlarged and renovated this exhibit in 2012 providing for expanded viewing areas for people and more stimuli for the African elephants that call it home including elevated feeders, enrichment walls and trees that creating a dynamic space for the animals.

The Hippoquarium and Elephants of the Savanna exhibits are part of a larger themed African Safari themed display area called the Tembo Trail.  As you venture along the Tembo Trail in addition to elephants and hippos, you'll also encounter lions, white rhinoceros, spotted-necked otters, slender-snouted crocodiles, naked mole rats and meerkats.


After a two and half year closure for a $25 million dollar expansion and renovations just re-opened in the Spring of 2015.  This exhibit has transformed a 46,000 gallon aquarium that had mostly displayed local freshwater varieties of fish into a 178,000 immersive underwater experience where people can view more than 3,000 creatures from a variety of ecosystems around the world.

We took a road trip this summer to the Toledo Zoo just to check out the new aquarium facility and I have to say it really is fin-tastic!  CLICK HERE to check out A Geek Daddy's review of the Toledo Zoo's aquarium "Sea-ing the Toledo Zoo Aquarium is Fin-tastic!"


It just figures though that my kids enjoy playing at the Toledo Zoo almost as much as venturing around observing all the wonderful animals.  The zoo has a nice area called Nature's Neighborhood that has a playscape area featuring a kids only tree house to explore, rock walls to climb and a stream to wade in.  There is also the Jumpin Junction indoor workshop area that has projects to do and presentations to see throughout the day all year long.  At Jumpin Junction kids can see themselves on a large TV screen with backgrounds from the natural world behind them or they can play around with animal costumes and puppets for a fun experience.

During the warmer months there also are daily performances at 2 pm each day featuring Toledo Zoo animals at the outdoor Fisher-Price Discover Stage for families to enjoy or you can pet African pygmy goats in Nature Neighborhood's Goat Yard.

As part of the aquarium renovation, the Toledo Zoo also just installed a great aquatic splash pad play area directly behind that facility that also includes oceanic themed play structures like a giant crab holding a tire swing in its pinchers.

A few other highlights of trip to the Toledo Zoo include taking a train ride around Africa! which circles a field filled with zebras, giraffe, wilderbeest, ostrich, and wild dogs; trekking through the Arctic Encounter to view polar bears and seals; meandering through the Primate Forest filled with lemurs, monkeys, and red pandas; and a walk through the reptile house which features a giant saltwater croc. CLICK HERE for a map with a full layout of the zoo.

Of course we can't head home for the day until we've taken a ride on the old fashion carousel situated by the park's main entrance.

If you happen to be visiting the area the Toledo Zoo has a nice Out-of-town Visitor Guide on its website to help with planning a trip to the zoo.  If you can make it to Toledo, A Geek Daddy recommends that a visit to their zoo is well worth it.  You'll always discover something that will put a smile on your at the Toledo Zoo!

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