POWELL, Ohio -- The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and its wildlife conservation center, The Wilds, are embarking on a major capital spending program over the next 12 to 18 months to improve animal wellbeing, enhance guest experiences, add new lodging options, and more.
The single most significant investment, approximately $32.5 million, is earmarked for the redevelopment of the North America region.
The redevelopment will transform the oldest region of the Zoo into a destination where guests can learn about the native species of our beautiful country while engaging in ways to protect the world’s most precious creatures.
The first phase will include new habitats for gray wolf, bald eagle, black bear, North American river otter, and Canada lynx. Ground breaking is scheduled for the fall.
Nearly $4 million is directed to a major expansion and improvement of the bonobo’s indoor/winter habitat. This project would provide ample space and updates, so the bonobos can play, learn, and continue to thrive in their family groups.
Construction for this project begins this spring. In addition, the Zoo is investing another $8 million for animal wellbeing and habitat improvements, facility upgrades, new technology, enhanced security, and more.
Work continues at The Wilds on the $7 million RV campground. The 59-acre RV campground will have 46 spots for RVs, 27 primitive camping spots, hiking, biking trails, a playground, a camp store, a dog park, two shower houses, and fishing and swimming will be available at a nearby lake. The RV campground is expected to be ready to welcome adventure seekers in early 2024.
The campground is expected to boost visitation at The Wilds allowing many more families to experience this one-of-a kind destination.
“We are excited to announce these significant projects and improvements. These projects, along with other enhancements focused on animal wellbeing, are modernizing our nearly 100-year old Zoo, providing more security for our guests, and improving the lives of our animals, said Tom Schmid, President and CEO of the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds.
Funding for all these projects comes from various sources, including federal and state grants, philanthropic donations, and earned revenue.
“I am so thankful for our major donors and federal and state partners who have chosen to invest in our future. And I am proud of our operating teams, who consistently exceed our financial projections, allowing us to reinvestment in our facilities and programs,” Schmid said.
About the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 600 species worldwide, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium leads by making a positive impact on people, wildlife and wild places. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Club. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also manages The Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio. The Zoo is a wildlife conservation organization with regional, national and global impact, annually supporting conservation and research projects worldwide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating.
About The Wilds
The Wilds sits on almost 10,000 acres of lush landscapes along the Appalachian Byway and attracts nearly 120,000 visitors annually. The Wilds is among one of the largest, cutting-edge conservation centers in North America and is home to more than 500 animals representing 28 rare and endangered species from around the world. The Wilds operates tours, overnight accommodations, special events, and summer camps as a source of revenue. The Wilds is located at 14000 International Road in Cumberland, Ohio, about 90 minutes east of Columbus. Normal hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day from May through October. For more information, visit TheWilds.org