Cleveland Metroparks Zoo celebrates opening of Asian Highlands

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unnamed (5)Asian Highlands, the new state-of-the-art destination at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, is now open to the public. The immersive addition is home to Amur and snow leopards, red panda and a new species to the Zoo, takin.

The new destination includes significantly larger and more complex habitats for the animals. Asian Highlands will also feature several glass viewing areas where guests can get nose to nose with some of their favorite animals. The architecture of the structure is designed with elements representative of central China, the region these species are native to.

“We are constantly looking at how we can enhance the environment for the animals we care for and the experience for our guests,” said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Dr. Christopher Kuhar. “Developing Asian Highlands was a natural fit because of the conservation work the Zoo supports in that part of the world, supporting scientists studying Asian wildlife in their natural habitats.”

The footprint of Asian Highlands totals 1.3 acres. The Amur and snow leopards will enjoy larger, more complex spaces, including four separate leopard habitats that give the animals an opportunity to rotate between interconnected areas. The areas offer climbing structures, elevated platforms, cooling caves and more. Later this summer, the Zoo’s new snow leopard cub triplets will move from their current home at the Primate, Cats and Aquatics building into a specially designed cub yard at Asian Highlands. In total, the leopard yards offer three times more space compared to the previous habitats.

The Zoo’s two red pandas will enjoy 25% more space and a radiant “deadfall” cooling tree, designed in-house by Cleveland Metroparks visual communications team, that will allow the animals to cool off, while still in public view.

One of Asian Highlands’ residents, the Amur leopard, is the most endangered big cat species on Earth with fewer than 100 animals estimated to remain in the wild. An education plaza highlights the conservation issues these species face, a “conservation wheel” and a showcase of handmade items available for purchase in the gift shop. The education plaza and items for sale encourage guests to join the zoo’s Future for Wildlife conservation community and take action. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s Future for Wildlife program supports both the Snow Leopard Trust and the Red Panda Network.

The total project cost was $5.8 million and was jointly funded by Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Cleveland Zoological Society, which provided $3.8 million.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo also announced Asian Lantern Festival presented by Cleveland Clinic Children’s that will light up the zoo for five weeks this summer. The limited engagement will take place evenings, Thursday thru Sunday from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., beginning July 19. Guests will enjoy more than two dozen large-scale, colorful lantern installations placed throughout the zoo that will illuminate starting at dusk. Guests will be immersed in Asian culture, dining on Asian inspired cuisine, watching Asian performers on the Fifth Third Bank stage, and shopping an authentic marketplace sponsored by T-Mobile. Tickets for the Asian Lantern Festival are on sale now and can be purchased in advance online at futureforwildlife.org/lanterns.

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