They Probably Purr More Than We Do: Visiting The Zoo
Kari Wethington

The one word that most accurately describes the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is “cute.” From the Victorian-style benches and street lamps to the wallaby-infested Australian Adventure complete with outback tree house, this is one adorable zoo. Located about 40 minutes from Oberlin and five miles south of downtown Cleveland, you can explore the park’s 165 acres for a mere $8.
The zoo is impressive even before you see any of the park’s 3,300 animals. It’s immaculately litter-free and flaunts a neo-Disney World design edge that makes it both a great place for a date (think Victorian ice cream parlor, the huge Waterfowl Lake, long train rides, benches…) and a bit overwhelming for the Oberlin student accustomed to staring at corn fields (think huge talking koala bears).

After making our way past hoards of happy families in the welcome plaza, we found a map and decided to head for the zoo’s newest attraction: the Australian Adventure. This is an Australia covered in red and gray kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos. This is an outback where you can slide down from the top of a huge “Yagga tree” to be attacked by a mechanical crocodile. This all happens in Kookaburra Station which also houses a petting zoo — a little paradise of miniature horses, goats, donkies and furry sheep. These animals managed to capture my heart even as they lazed about on the hay, waking only to defecate. After getting over the cute factor, we moved on to Wallaby Walkout, where we were met by lots and lots of wallabies and kangaroos that just, you know, hopped around, being cute marsupials.
Next on the journey was the cleverly named “Long Uphill Deckwalk” to the one huge building that served to conglomerate the zoo’s seemingly sparse collection of primates, cats and aquatics. It was a crowded, confusing and strange building. Is there any logic in putting fish alongside monkeys? The redeeming factor of the long uphill walk was the zoo’s amazing collection of lemurs. Who knew that the red-ruffed lemur, a native of Madagascar, is such an acrobat? We saw some amazing feats before we got pushed along by a family with lots of strollers.

After taking a time-out for a refreshing Coke, we took the elderly way out and hopped on the tram to the Northern Trek, which was by far the shabbiest section of the zoo. Standing on the outskirts of the zoo, underneath Fullton Parkway, there were no animals or plants to be seen. We eventually stumbled upon Wolf Wilderness, which was a nice name for what was really a small caged section of woods with one wolf, sitting there, staring at us. The Northern Trek really redeemed itself after we laid eyes on the cutest of cute at the Cleveland Zoo: the bears! The Trek only got cuter with sea lions, reindeer and a family of bored Siberian tigers.
Heading south, we made stops at the African Savahana to see elephants and Birds of the World to see a really scary bald eagle. The only part of the zoo we completely skipped was the Rainforest, which is a two acre Biosphere of sorts that apparently contains lots of “tropical” plants and animals. It charges a separate admission and would definitely take at least a of couple hours to explore.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is something you must see soon. Put aside your questions of humanity and ecological equality for a few hours and see some animals that are beyond cute. Worry about the politics when you get back to the bubble.

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