The Akron Zoo is growing! With the addition of its brand new Pride of Africa exhibit this summer, now is the time to make a visit. Whether it’s your first time going, or you’ve been visiting your whole life, you are bound to have a roaring good time.
Part of a $17 million construction project, the Pride of Africa exhibit has transformed a small portion of downtown Akron into a Kenyan experience, complete with African lions, Speke’s gazelle, white storks, crested guineafowl, and Boer goats. The zoo consulted with native members of the Maasai tribe, who helped create the authentic feel and aesthetic of Southern Africa.
The stars of the Pride of Africa (and possibly the star of the whole zoo) are of course the African lions, Tamarr and Mandisa! This king and queen are part of the same pride, and will soon be joined by three other lions from a different pride. On site during my recent visit were some very knowledgeable volunteers who shared with me that the lions have to slowly be integrated into the same space, so they can get acclimated to each other. They told me that they will rotate the two prides and eventually the lions may be able to co-habitate. The volunteers also showcased a sample of lion’s fur for me to see and feel up close, which was a really neat experience.
The new space for the lions to roam is just shy of an acre, and has great viewing tunnels and platforms so you can see the big cats from unique vantage points. This is one of the things that the Akron Zoo always prides itself on: that you can get “up close and personal” with so many of its animals, in ways that you can’t at other zoos.
It’s easy to spend a great deal of time at the lion enclosure, as they are so mesmerizing, and there is so much space to view them. However, the lions are placed at the very end of the Pride of Africa area. To get to them, you must first pass the other animals mentioned. My favorite of the exhibits is the Speke’s gazelle: it’s a species I was not previously familiar with, so I learned a lot! Plus, the goats were fun to see, because you can also feed them!
The area is peppered with plenty of interactive and educational elements that are both fun and informative for kids and adults alike, including a display explaining the culture of Maasai beads and jewelry. Kids can also play in a Land Rover to make it feel as if they’re on their very own safari. The expanded train ride is also a major plus, as it now winds through the Pride of Africa exhibit. The train comes in handy after walking the hills of the Akron Zoo! Another nice addition is the spray pad, which helps cool off visitors during the hot summer months.
To me, the best part of the Akron Zoo is that it is a perfect size – not too big, and not too small – so your visit can be manageable and a solid 3 or 4 hours, even with the addition of the Pride of Africa. Other locations in the zoo are equally exciting, including the Komodo Kingdom, Grizzly Ridge, and Penguin Point, to name a few. And you’ve got to take a ride on the historic carousel while you’re there! It is the perfect way to cap off a great trip for the whole family.
Check Ohio.org for more great family fun!