Adventures of Gus and Kim: The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Cincinnati, Ohio

Last week, I was working on a blog post about the Nashville Zoo and I realized that I have never done a post about the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden! We've been members for many years and spent a lot of time there when our kids were little. We still visit a few times a year and try not to miss the Festival of Lights every winter - it's a family tradition!

The elephant house at the Cincinnati Zoo during Festival of Lights
The Elephant House during Festival of Lights 2018

(This post is not sponsored and there are no affiliate links. All opinions are, as always, 100% mine.)

You may have heard that the Cincinnati Zoo is "The Greenest Zoo in America", But if not, I'll bet you've heard of our precious Princess Fiona. She just turned two and she IS the cutest baby hippo! The circumstances surrounding her premature birth and amazing fight to survive seem to have given her a unique bond with humans. It's not unusual to see her interacting with the crowds and posing for the cameras.

The last time we saw Fiona, our visit coincided with BiFi's (as they are affectionately known by those who 'ship BiBi and Fiona) after-breakfast nap!

Mother and baby hippo napping in the water at the Cincinnati Zoo
Naptime with BiBi and Fiona!

As cute as she is, Fiona isn't the only adorable animal at the Cincinnati Zoo (have you seen the baby tamandua???). We love the penguins in the Wings of the World building. My cousin just happens to work there, so we have been lucky enough to go behind the scenes and get up-close and personal with them!

Several king penguins standing together on rocks
King penguins (I can't see their bands so I'm not sure which is which) - there are six: BeBe, Burger,  Stacey, Martin Luther, Coretta Scott and Larry (who was standing on a rock in the middle of the water), .

Magellanic penguin standing on a rock near water
Jerry the Magellanic penguin

Rockhopper penguin standing on a rock
Bombadil the Rockhopper penguin

In the photo below, you can see Buddy's girlfriend and Jerry getting acquainted. Jerry was very social the day we visited - or maybe he was hungry. He kept nibbling at our boots and arms!

Magellanic penguin standing next to a young woman
Jerry the Magellanic penguin

Chester, the Andean bear enjoying a lovely selection of fruits and vegetables. I think this is one of the only times we've seen him awake!

Andean bear eating fruit
Chester the Andean bear

Our polar bears have a great habitat, but it will be getting an upgrade as part of the "More Home to Roam" project. Some of the improvements will make the environment more conducive to breeding - so fingers crossed for baby polar bears in the future!

Polar bear lying on a rock
Little One

Some of the animals you'll see while walking through the Africa exhibit (which is also where you will find Bibi and Fiona): pelicans, a warthog, lions, African painted dogs, and vultures!

Two pelicans sitting on a fallen tree
Skipper and Gilligan

Warthog grazing in the grass
Walter the warthog

Male lion walking in straw

Four African painted dogs - two standing, two lying on the ground
African painted dogs

Lappet-faced vulture sitting on a rock
Lappet-faced vulture

Gorilla World is one of the newest habitats, and we love being able to see the family group interact. I believe it just reopened after being temporarily closed for some upgrades, one of which was to reduce/remove the glare on the glass (seen in the photo below).

Female gorilla sitting in a tree eating
I'm not sure which of the adult female gorillas is pictured - there are seven adults: Males: Jomo, Mshindi; Females: Chewie, Asha, Samantha, Mara, M'Linzie - and three little ones: Gladys, Mondika (Mona), and Elle

Male Silverback gorilla sitting outside holding onto a small tree
enjoying the outdoor area

More of the beautiful animals you'll see at the Cincinnati Zoo:

close-up of a giraffe
I think this is Zoey 

Snow leopard reaching up on the fence with paws
Nubo the snow leopard

Indian rhino walking
I think this is the Indian rhino, Manjula (unfortunately little Kendi the Black rhino wasn't out when we were there)

chuckwalla sitting on a rock

As I mentioned earlier, they've got some great things planned for the future with the More Home to Roam project: Roo Valley (a kangaroo walkabout), a new, larger elephant habitat, a new rhino reserve, and much more! You can check out all of the upcoming improvements here.

When you're in the Cincinnati area, we highly recommend making time to visit the zoo. It's such a fabulous experience! And keep in mind that if you're a member of another zoo, chances are that you will be able to get 50% off the price of admission. 

If you're interested in becoming a member of the Cincinnati Zoo, there are several different levels of membership. Gus and I have a Dual Standard membership which includes free zoo admission for both of us, free parking, $2 tickets to the 4-D Special FX Theatre, free Admission to PNC Festival of Lights, two half-price guest tickets per day, early entry into zoo (9 am mid-March through October 31), discounts at all retail and food service locations in the zoo (some exclusions may apply), discounted admission to over 100 reciprocal zoos, and invitations to special events and previews. We renew our membership when they offer a discount (usually during Festival of Lights), so it only costs around $80. Buddy has an individual membership (all of the same benefits) and I believe his was $44 with the discount. Definitely worth the price!

Beautiful pink and blue sunset with holiday light display
Beautiful sunset at Festival of Lights

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
3400 Vine St.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45220

Open January 1st – December 31st at 10am. The Zoo is closed on December 25 only.

January 2 – March 8: 10am-5pm
March 9 – May 24: 10am-5pm (early entry at 9am for members & Adventure Ticket holders)
May 25 – September 2: 10am-6pm (early entry at 9am for members & Adventure Ticket holders)
September 3 – October 31: 10am-5pm (early entry at 9am for members & Adventure Ticket holders)
November 1 – November 15: 10am-5pm
November 16 – January 1: PNC Festival of Lights – 10am-9pm (Sundays-Thursdays)/ 10am-10pm (Fridays-Saturdays)

*PNC Festival of Lights is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve. The Zoo is closed all day on Christmas.

Infographic with photos of a polar bear and penguins at the Cincinnati Zoo

Do you have a favorite zoo? I'd love to know so we can check it out!


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