Akron Zoo: there is only one inch between you and the tiger
Akron Zoo is very different from Cleveland Zoo and you will see why. There are the famous Tiger Valley and Asian Trail and you can see all animals unbelievably close. See the sleeping lions. By 4 PM they are awake and growling, waiting for their supper. You can actually see the food prepared in the zoo "kitchen" which is just next to the lions' habitat.
The most distinctive feature of the Akron Zoo is the Tiger Valley where you can see tigers and bears amazingly close. In fact, the only thing between you and these magnificent creatures is the one-inch-thick glass. The Sumatran tiger is the smallest type of tiger. They weigh about 300 pounds whereas, the biggest tiger - the Siberian, may weigh as much as 600 pounds.
Malayan sun bear exhibit is also transparent and scaringly close-up; Compare to bear! (if you dare). Sun bears get their name from the yellow crescent on their chest. They are the smallest of bears - just like Sumatran tiger is the smallest type of tiger (you won't believe that when you see them though - they look pretty big).
From tiger and bear exhibits, the way is up the hill to see swans, pandas, miniature deer and so many other beautiful creatures. Trumpet swans have a call strongly resembling a trumpet sound, hence the name. When the flock takes flight, the calls help keep the birds together. In Cleveland Zoo, the emphasis is on the natural habitat and how the animals live in it. By contrast, in Akron Zoo, the emphasis on the animals themselves. You can see them closer than you ever imagined, almost like you are among them. It may not be very good for the animals from the naturalist's point of view but it is fascinating for the visitors for sure.
Another swan variety, this one was very curious.
Chinese barking deer. They looked very shy and we never heard them barking.
The Chinese red panda is very cute despite the warning sign "Caution...I bite". Having difficulty climbing over that wall? Red pandas are also known as fire fox, hence the name of the now famous Mozilla browser FireFox. See photos of Tian Tong - the young red panda cub at Cleveland Zoo.
White-naped crane. Who is looking at who?
There are two bald eagles in the zoo that cannot fly due to old injuries. When settlers first arrived in Ohio, bald eagles were very common along Lake Erie. There are a lot of interactive and educational displays in the zoo - guaranteed to keep the kids busy.
Further up the hill, you will find the new garden with fountains and the nature classroom where you can listen to Ohio birds' songs. You can feed and pet some domesticated animals - sheep, goats, lamas, ponies.
How to get to Akron Zoo?
It is 35-40 min from the southern suburbs of Cleveland like Middleburg Heights and Strongsville. Just take the Ohio turnpike (I-80) and then I-77 south, then follow the green road signs pointing to the zoo.
Source and acknowledgment:
Legends of the Wild at the Akron Zoo
Part of the text is based on the Akron Zoo website information
Directions, map, hours and admission
Sumatran Tiger. The Cats Jungle's photos on Flickr.
A visit to Akron Zoo. Kenny's Gallery on Picasa Web Albums.
Video: Local zoos feel San Francisco tragedy 2000 miles away. WKYC TV, 12/2007.