Beginning Friday, July 7th, the Akron Zoo is the first zoo in Ohio, and only the second in the country, to be certified sensory inclusive by KultureCity out of Birmingham, Alabama. 

Sensory inclusive means the zoo is now accessible and accommodating to those with sensory needs, including autism. Upon entry, the zoo is now offering sensory bags that include noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, and weighted blankets. The zoo now features five quiet zones for guests who need a break from the everyday commotion that is common at the zoo. There is also a guest comfort station, which is a private room for guests only, giving them a place to relax. 

"One of our goals is to make the zoo accessible to everyone," Akron Zoo President and CEO Doug Piekarz said in a statement. "By partnering with the very effective team at KultureCity we know that the zoo is more welcoming to all families and we are now equipped to offer a better experience for families with sensory needs." 


(Akron Zoo President and CEO Doug Piekarz, Akron Zoo Marketing and Group Sales Manager Elena Bell, Amy Belles, Carson Belles, Jeff Belles)

This isn't the first venture KultureCity has taken up in Northeast Ohio. With the help of Amy and Jeff Belles of Akron, KultureCity worked with Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers to make Quicken Loans Arena sensory inclusive. The Belles family, including 12-year-old Carson, who was diagnosed with autism at 2-years-old, worked with employees and helped train them, both at the Q and at the Akron Zoo, to be more sensory inclusive. 

Training for all Akron Zoo employees lasted about 6 or 7 months, and now they're equipped to help make those with sensory needs more comfortable when they walk through the zoo. 

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Tuesday, 21 February 2017 11:14

Free Admission, Weather Lands Thousands At Zoo

The Akron Zoo had planned their "free admission day" months ahead of Presidents Day 2017. There is no way they could have predicted the unseasonably high temperatures Akron for Monday. 

With the combination of free admission, kids off of school for the holiday, and 61 degrees for the high locally, it made for a near-record for attendance at the Akron Zoo. 

"Yesterday we had our second-largest attendance in the history of the Zoo; and we were only open for five hours. We had 7,300 people show up at the Akron Zoo," Dave Barnhardt with the zoo told 1590 WAKR. 

The attendance was second to last year's record-setting day when the zoo hosted "Boo at the Zoo" last October. when we also saw unseasonably warm temperatures. 

The zoo posted to their Facebook page just before 1 p.m., that they would be closing early and would update the status on whether or not they would reopen. By 4 p.m., the zoo's regular closing time, there was no status update. Mary from Akron called our newsroom around the same time saying that the line of cars was spilling out on to Copley Road at Edgewood Avenue. By the time her group had gotten near the zoo entrance, they were told by a police officer that they had to turn back; that the zoo wasn't letting any more people in. 


Published in Local
Wednesday, 11 January 2017 07:20

Akron Zoo Gets Curious

The Akron Zoo is going big again with a new exhibit for 2017. "Curious Creatures" will feature what the Zoo calls some of the "world's strangest animals" starting this summer and replaces the Journey to the Reef exhibit in Komodo Kingdom. Among some of the animals: naked mole-rats, electric eels and insects who even garden.

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(Akron Zoo) 2017 will be a bizarre year at the Akron Zoo. The zoo is getting ready to introduce the community to some of the world's strangest animals when their new exhibit, Curious Creatures, opens on June 3, 2017. The exhibit will be located in Komodo Kingdom and replace Journey to the Reef, which closed in November last year.

The new exhibit will include animals that are uniquely different or have odd adaptations allowing guests to learn about some of the world's most "Curious Creatures." Some of the unique species that guests will be able to learn about in the new exhibit include naked mole-rats, leaf-cutter ants, electric eel, red-eyed tree frogs, walking batfish, chain dogfish, flashlight fish, mata mata turtles and more.

The new exhibit will keep a few species that were in Journey to the Reef, such as sea nettles, giant Pacific octopus and coral. In addition the zoo will also be showcasing some carnivorous plants such as Venus flytrap, pitcher plant, bladderwort and more. In total, Curious Creatures will include over 20 exhibits and several interactive areas like the learning lab, where guests can see marine and terrestrial invertebrates, a mood wall that simulates the helpful adaptation some animals have to blend in and change color and a strength tester where guests can compare their strength to that of the powerful mantis shrimp.

Guests will be able to view the strange behaviors of animals like the leaf-cutter ants who cut leaves with their jaw and carry them back to their nests where they grow fungus gardens, which the ants then eat. Guests will also learn about curious adaptions of animals like the naked mole-rat, which has no fur, just pink, wrinkly skin. These creatures live underground like moles and have small rat like tales, but are neither a mole nor a rat.

"Curious Creatures allows us to engage guests in an exploration of biodiversity unlike anything we have done before. By connecting our guests with animals they perhaps did not even know existed, we hope to encourage greater interest in the diversity of our natural world," said Doug Piekarz, president & CEO. "Our hope is Curious Creatures will spark the curiosity of every guest and inspire them to help these magnificent creatures as we continue to advance our mission to connect your life to wildlife while inspiring lifelong learning and conservation action."

Curious Creatures will be located in the exhibit hall in Komodo Kingdom Education Center. The exhibit hall is a space that changes exhibits every 3-4 years. Curious Creatures will be the fourth exhibit to occupy this space since Komodo Kingdom opened in 2005.

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The Akron Zoo will be closing its Journey to the Reef exhibit this November.

The indoor exhibit hall is designed to change and offer a new exhibit every 3-4 years, according to officials at the Akron Zoo.

Journey to the Reef opened in May of 2012 and has hosted over 1.4 million people. The last day for the exhibit will be November 19th.

No replacement has been named, but it is expected to open in the spring of 2017.


(Akron Zoo - Press Release) The Akron Zoo's popular exhibit, Journey to the Reef, will be closing November 19, 2016. The reef exhibit is located in an indoor exhibit hall in Komodo Kingdom which was designed to change exhibits every 3-4 years. Journey to the Reef first opened on May 26, 2012 and hosted over 1.4 million people. Its replacement exhibit has yet to be named, but will open in the spring of 2017.

To commemorate the closing of Journey to the Reef the zoo will host a Bon Voyage party on November 19. Journey to the Reef features 18 aquariums and over 40 aquatic species that live on or near the reef, and live coral. This area also includes several interactive education areas for kids, like our stingray touch tank, to learn about ocean life and conservation.

Many of the animals that are a part of Journey to the Reef had never been exhibited at the zoo before, such as: octopus, eels, seahorses, venomous lionfish and clownfish. The exhibit also included a couple of species of jellyfish, starfish, schooling fish, crabs and more.

Although the new exhibit has yet to be announced it will include some aquatic and terrestrial animals along with carnivorous plants. The new exhibit will be announced
early in 2017. The Akron Zoo is open 361 days a year. Zoo hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, $9 for children (ages 2-14). Children under two are free and parking is $3.00. For more information visit or call (330) 375-2550.

Founded in 1953, the Akron Zoo is a non-profit, world conservation Zoo with over 700 animals from around the world. Located just west of Downtown Akron, the Zoo
strives to provide a dynamic, financially responsible, guest centered animal experience that is energized by innovation and fun. The Akron Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.

Published in Local
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 12:29

Akron Zoo Brings Back Holiday Lights

The Akron Zoo announced Wednesday that they will bring back their old holiday tradition of lights and displays throughout much of the holiday season.

The following is a press release from the Akron Zoo detailing the events:  

Akron Zoo brings back holiday lighting event

AKRON, Ohio - The Akron Zoo will once again be lighting up the zoo with holiday

lights and displays after a 16-year hiatus. Wild Lights, the zoo’s new fun-filled family

event, will take place November 25-27, December 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 22-23 and 26-30,

2016. The event will run from 6-9 p.m.

Nearly the entire zoo will be decorated with a mix of lighted wildlife and

traditional holiday displays. The event will include a unique nightly light show focused on

animals near the zoo’s carousel, Santa Land, where people can visit with Santa and have

their pictures taken if they wish, a S’mores station, up-close animal encounters, dinner

at the zoo’s 4-star green certified restaurant and much more. Many of the zoo animals

will also be on exhibit.

“We are excited to bring this event back to our community and foster memorable

experiences for families, as well as educate and inspire people to take an active role in

conservation,” commented Doug Piekarz, president & CEO. “We are fulfilling the request

from our community to bring this event back, some of whom came as kids and now wish

to bring their kids to Wild Lights.”

The zoo had hosted Holidays Lights from 1987-2000 and decorated the zoo with

a half a million lights. Over 300,000 people visited the zoo for Holiday Lights during the

14 years the zoo held the event.

The zoo plans to have lights starting at its entrance and continuing throughout

the park, a traditional holiday theme in the historical portion of the zoo’s Mike & Mary

Stark Grizzly Ridge and a Candy Land theme in the zoo’s Frontier Town, which will

include an area where visitors can roast their own marshmallows for S’mores.

General (Non-member) admission for Wild Lights will be $15 for adults and $10

for children. Akron Zoo members will be $12 for adults and children are $9. Discounted

admission and early entrance at 5:00pm is available for those who purchase their tickets

in advance: Pre-sale general (non-member) admission will be $12 for adults and $9 for

children. Akron Zoo member advance purchased tickets will be $9 for adults and $8 for


On the nights that the zoo is open for Wild Lights it will be closed during the day.

Our regular winter hours running from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. apply to all non-event

November and December days.

Akron Zoo - 2

The zoo is also offering companies the opportunity to host their holiday party

during Wild Lights. Companies can rent out the entire zoo on an evening when Wild

Lights is not open to the public, or people can choose to have a smaller party at the zoo

during the event. For more information about hosting a party at the zoo call 330-375-

2550 ext. 7251.

The Akron Zoo is open 361 days a year. Zoo hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and

admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, $9 for children (ages 2-14). Children

under two are free and parking is $3. For more information visit or

call (330) 375-2550.

Founded in 1953, the Akron Zoo is a non-profit, world-conservation zoo with

over 700 animals from around the world. Located just west of Downtown Akron, the zoo

strives to provide a dynamic, financially responsible, guest-centered animal experience

that is energized by innovation and fun. The Akron Zoo is accredited by the Association

of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a

leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native


Published in Local
Monday, 25 April 2016 13:38

Name The Snow Leopard Cubs

The Akron Zoo's three snow leopard cubs will debut in June, but first, they need names.

The Zoo's opened up the snow leopard naming contest, which runs through May 16th.

Those who select the winning names get free zoo admission and "a snow leopard prize pack".

The entries - via E-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - will narrow the possible names to six, and the three winning names will be selected with the help of the cubs and their mother, Shanti.

The two male and one female cubs are now seven weeks old, weigh about seven pounds and are said to be doing well with their mother and Zoo staff taking care of them.

(Akron Zoo, release) The three snow leopard cubs, born March 5, 2016, will make their public debut early in June. But before they do, the Akron Zoo is asking the public's help in naming the newest additions to this endangered species. The naming contest, which is sponsored by Akron Children's Hospital, will run April 25-May 16, 2016. Everyone is welcome to submit their suggested names by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The zoo will narrow down the suggested names to six possibilities. The cubs and their mother, Shanti, will then help pick the winning names. The people who submitted the winning names will receive free admission to the zoo and a snow leopard prize pack.

"We are happy to partner with Akron Children's Hospital to ask the community for help naming these beautiful snow leopard cubs. Akron Children's provides exceptional care for newborns, and so do we, here at the Akron Zoo. Our youngsters may look different because of the scales, feathers or fur but the professional care and attention they receive come from a heartfelt passion and belief in our mission to save wildlife and wild places," added Akron Zoo President & CEO, Doug Piekarz. "The birth of these cubs is extremely significant to the preservation of this endangered species and this naming contest presents a rare and unique opportunity to be a part of their lives."

"Akron Children's is always honored when a family trusts us to care for their child and we feel the same way about the Akron Zoo and their three new bundles of joy," said William Considine, president of Akron Children's Hospital. "The bond that caregivers – human or animal – develop with the smallest of patients and their parents is very special. And, soon, we will all experience this first-hand when the newly named cubs debut."

Currently at seven weeks old the cubs, one female and two males, weigh about seven pounds and are doing extremely well under the attentive and watchful eye of their mother, Shanti, and the professional animal care staff who work with her while she is in her cubbing area daily. The cubs are now becoming more adventurous and have begun playing and climbing. Male snow leopards do not participate in cub rearing, so the cubs' father, Roscoe, is in his exhibit daily until the cubs make their debut.

Snow leopards are endangered primarily due to loss of habitat, illegal poaching for their pelts and body parts and killings by local herders when a snow leopard has preyed on their livestock. There are 153 snow leopards in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) in the U.S. and there are believed to be as few as 4,000 left in the wild.

Published in Local
Friday, 01 April 2016 12:28

Akron Zoo Welcomes Snow Leopard Triplets

The Akron Zoo is welcoming a litter of three snow leopard cubs -- a first in the zoo's history. It's the third litter born to Snow Leopard Shanti, but it's her first set of triplets. The cubs and their mother are currently off exhibit. They were born on March 5th.

The zoo is planning a naming contest, which is expected to be announced in a few weeks.




For the first time in our history a litter of three snow leopard cubs have been born at the Akron Zoo. This is the third...

Posted by Akron Zoo on Friday, April 1, 2016
Published in Local
Tuesday, 29 December 2015 11:07

January Marks Penguin Palooza At Akron Zoo

If you like penguins, January is the month for you.

The Akron Zoo is holding "Penguin Palooza" every Saturday and Sunday in January.

The zoo says you can enjoy penguin craft and you'll be able to feed the penguins for $3.

The zoo's 17 endangered Humboldt penguins are used to milder temperatures, though their exhibit is climate controlled.

Those visiting Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 2 PM will also be served free hot chocolate.

Published in Local
Friday, 30 October 2015 15:20

Boo At The Zoo - Another Record Setter

"Boo at the Zoo" this year set more attendance records at the Akron Zoo - both for the event itself, and all-time.

The Zoo says over 6,800 people showed up for "Boo at the Zoon" last Sunday (October 25th), which set an all-time single day attendance record for the zoo.

The 6 days of "Boo" brought in over 26,000 visitors this year, also a record.

The Zoo says one reason for the attendance spike - expanded hours from 11:30 AM to 7:30 PM on weekends for "Boo at the Zoo" this year.


(Akron Zoo, news release) For the second year in a row the Akron Zoo has shattered two records during Boo at the Zoo.

The zoo broke its all-time single day attendance record with 6,831 visitors on Sunday, October 25th. The zoo also set a new Boo at the Zoo record with 26,220 people visiting during the 6-day event.

The previous two records were set during last year's Boo at the Zoo. Single day attendance was 6,658 on Saturday, October 2014 during the event and total attendance for Boo at the Zoo 2014 was 25,544.

Expanded hours for the event are believed to be the reason for the spike in attendance during Boo at the Zoo. Last year the zoo expanded their hours and Boo at the Zoo ran all day from 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays instead of shortened afternoon and evening hours as in previous years.

This year's Boo at the Zoo ran October 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25. The event is one of the area's largest trick-or-treating events. It includes 12 themed treat stations that kids can trick-or-treat at while enjoying non-scary Halloween decorations and the zoo's 700 animals. The zoo passed out 122,088 treats to the kids during the event. The event is presented by Acme Fresh Markets.

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