African Elephant Crossing now open at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo celebrated the grand opening of African Elephant Crossing on May 5.

African Elephant Crossing now open at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

May 20, 2011

Record crowds helped Cleveland Metroparks Zoo celebrate the grand opening of its newest exhibit, African Elephant Crossing, including more than 16,000 visitors on Mother’s Day.

The Zoo celebrated with four days of festivities this month to properly mark the grand opening milestone. At five acres and $25 million, African Elephant Crossing is the largest capital project at the Zoo since The RainForest opened in 1992.

Anticipation at the Zoo reached its “height” when African elephant bull Willy arrived. At 11-feet tall at the shoulder and almost 13,000 pounds, Willy is the largest animal to ever be on exhibit at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

“Our guests are really in for a special treat,” said Zoo Director Steve Taylor. “Willy is an amazing -- a truly fantastic ambassador for his wild-born counterparts.”

Willy joins the Zoo’s female elephant foursome, Martika, Moshi, Jo and newcomer Shenga, along with meerkats, a colony of naked mole rats, an African rock python, an aviary full of native birds, and an interactive visitor center where kids and grown-ups can learn more about the daily care the elephants receive.

African Elephant Crossing features two sprawling outdoor elephant yards, and multiple viewing areas around the exhibit offer visitors the chance to watch the herd as they migrate between the two outdoor ranges, forage for food, swim in the deep water channel, bathe under the waterfall, wallow in the mud or dust themselves.

Built over and around the shell of the Zoo’s old 1950s-era Pachyderm Building and elephant yard, the exhibit is multifaceted, providing rich and diverse experiences for elephants and visitors. It was funded by Cleveland Metroparks and the Cleveland Zoological Society, and designed by CLR Design.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with hours extended to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $11 per person, $8 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members.

To learn more, visit or call (216) 661-6500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Zoo Marketing & Public Relations

Joe Yachanin (216) 635-3310 

Sue Allen, Manager (216) 635-3338 

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