The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Robert S. Castellini
3 min readAug 17, 2022

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a zoological park founded in 1875. It is the second oldest zoo in the United States and one with the most animals. The zoo sits on about 75 acres, and its breeding facility, Mast Farm, spans 107 acres.

The zoo is currently run in collaboration with the Zoological Society of Cincinnati. There are over 2000 animals of 500 species in the zoo. It is renowned for its association with imperiled species, including the Sumatran rhinos. In addition, the zoo contributes to animal conservation and breeding efforts. Its breeding results are thanks to the zoo’s Lindner Center for Research of Endangered Wildlife, which conducts numerous studies on various reproduction methods. One notable breeding success of the zoo was the California sea lion. Other animals bred in the Cincinnati Zoo include rare African-painted dog pups, elephants, rhinoceros, and Komodo dragons. Lowland gorillas have been bred in the zoo through in vitro fertilization, a groundbreaking method.

Numerous exhibits are held in Cincinnati to deepen the visitor experience. Interactive kangaroo walkabouts, white Bengal tiger exhibits, white lions, and displays of multiple bug species are shown. Recently, the zoo launched an African exhibition for visitors to fully immerse themselves in its “African Savannah” by sightseeing various structures with natural East African features. African animals like the impala, pink-backed pelican and Thomson’s gazelle are also on full display.

The Cincinnati Zoo holds some significant creatures. The zoo is the home of the fastest zoo cheetah. In addition, the last known surviving passenger pigeon and Carolina parakeet are on display, and the largest Komodo dragon can be seen in the zoo. It also once held the longest-living American Alligator. Until recently, it was the only zoo in the county to hold an aye-aye, one of the strangest primates in the world. Further, the zoo was the site of the most lowland gorilla births ever recorded in captivity throughout the 1990s.

The zoo is home to a variety of buildings that were named National Historic Landmarks in 1987. One of them is the reptile house. The reptile house was built over 100 years ago and is currently the oldest zoo building in America. It was formerly a monkey house until it became home to over 30 reptiles, including pythons, boas, vipers, and alligators. The reptile house also houses the vet hospital of the zoo. Another significant zoo building is the elephant house. The building is in the style of classic Indian architecture, notably the Taj Mahal. It is a tall building and can be found on a high hill in the zoo.

Apart from wildlife, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden also features a conservatory and was pronounced the greenest zoo in America in 2016. There are over 3,000 of some of the country’s most delicate plants in the botanical garden. The plant collections are a unique combination of greens and exhibitions that show plants and how they relate to people and other animals. The Cincinnati Zoo also implements several “green initiatives” to lessen its environmental impact. These include water conservation, erecting energy-efficient buildings, adopting solar energy, and growing food locally for its animals.