Everybody expects Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati to have great zoos, most large cities do, but how about a smaller place like Toledo? Yes, Toledo has the #1 zoo in America as voted by USA Today. The zoo opened in 1900 and has been wowing visitors ever since.
The history of the zoo is on display in many of the historic buildings in the back section. From the Reptile house, to the renovated Aquarium, to the famous Amphitheater, the zoo has used it’s old buildings to great effect. Yet even with the historic nature of the park modern animal care and zoo attractions are blended in nicely. Modernity and history live in harmony through out the zoo.
Reopened in 2015 the Aquarium shows off this blend quite nicely. The Aquarium tanks were expanded to hold four times more water and many more aquatic animals. Inside are two touch tanks with the opportunity to pet sting rays and sharks. A 90000+ gallon tanks holds more sharks and has 2 dive shows daily. Even with the expansion the outside of the Works Progress Administration era structure never changed.
A zoo is nothing without a great collection of animals to view. The Toledo Zoo does not disappoint. While the zoo does have over 600 species, it does a great job of showcasing each animal. The outdoor enclosures are large enough that the animals have the room they need, but not so large that the animals are too far for the visitor to view. The animals and visitors, while protected, can get right up to next to each other. Sometimes a little frighteningly close. Sometimes joyful close, such as the touch tanks in the newly renovated Aquarium. Kids will love the opportunity to see many animals up close in almost every portion of the place, and very close at the Natures Neighborhood, but will still feel safe.
The park is split into two sections. A front section located next to the tickets and parking lot and a back section which is located across a busy road. The front section contains the Arctic animals and Africa!. Africa! is mostly one open “watering hole” surrounded by a train. One of the most interesting parts is the bridge linking the two sections. Inside the walkway the walls are covered with the foot prints of some of the animals in the zoo. This is a great way to compare the stride of a duck to that of an elephant. The back portion of the zoo is the majority of the property. A simple layout makes this section easy to navigate without overcrowding any one place.
Overall the Toledo Zoo has earned its number one ranking with over 100 years of entertaining and educating the public. Hopefully the next 100 will be just as exciting.
Tip: It is recommended to head to the back section first while the crowds are in the front and work towards the front.