The Cincinnati Zoo animals and rides

Cincinnati Zoo: A Closer Look at the Exhibits and Rides

While the Cincinnati Zoo is most famously known for Fiona the Hippo, there are many more great animal exhibits. Today, we’re going to dive into everything the Cincinnati Zoo has to offer!

My husband and I love zoos! In fact, the first time we went to the Cincinnati Zoo was to celebrate my birthday. We live around Indianapolis and decided to take a quick road trip. We decided to spend the weekend in Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Zoo was high on our priority list!

Where is the Cincinnati Zoo?

The Cincinnati Zoo is in a busy part of the city.

Address: 3400 Vine Street Cincinnati, OH 45220

How Much is Parking at the Cincinnati Zoo?

At the time of writing this post, parking for the zoo is $10.

We found the price very reasonable, especially considering almost every parking spot in Lot A is covered by a solar panel awning that prevented the sun from beating down on the cars. That was so nice when we arrived back after a long and hot day at the park!

Cincinnati Zoo Hours

During the summer hours, the Cincinnati Zoo is open from 10am-5pm.

Cincinnati Zoo Africa animal exhibit with giraffes and lots of trees

The Zoo’s Conservation Efforts

The Cincinnati Zoo website has an extensive list of field research and conservation projects they do. The website also gives tips for how we can better help wildlife.

And it even provides a list of palm-oil free products. The hunt for palm-oil is very destructive for animal habitats. With this list, visitors have the chance to be a part of preventing the destruction of rainforests around the world.

A Few Things to Know About the Cincinnati Zoo

Lots of Trees/Shade!

As stated above, the Cincinnati Zoo is located in the middle of the city. However, it’s easy to visit the zoo and almost forget you are downtown!

The zoo has so many trees! The trees divide the animals’ habitats while also making the park feel larger than it is. Plus, it provides some wonderfully shaded spaces throughout the park!

A pathway through the Cincinnati Zoo with lots of shade along the path

Very Hilly!

The park is also VERY hilly. Make sure you’re wearing your walking shoes, because this zoo will give you your workout! Visitors enter the zoo at the top of a big hill. The Jungle Trails section, directly across the zoo, is probably the lowest point. However, those going to Wildlife Canyon will decline a steep hill to get to the kangaroos and penguins.

Navigating the Zoo and the Cincinnati Zoo Map

A photo of the Cincinnati Zoo Map

Both times we’ve visited this zoo my husband and I have struggled to navigate this park. We haven’t figured out a great plan that allows us to see everything without passing back by things we have already seen. And, when the zoo is as hilly as this one is, that presents a challenge!

There are some obvious sections of the Cincinnati Zoo: Africa, Jungle Trails, Cat Canyon, and Roo Valley. But most of the areas in the middle are less pronounced. Therefore, I will do my best to explain the animal exhibits below in a semi-organized fashion, but bear with me!

Cincinnati Zoo: Favorite Animal Exhibits

Now let’s get into the fun part, the animals!


The African section of the zoo takes up most of the south side of the park. It contains elephants, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, painted dogs, cranes, ostriches, meerkats, and hippos. In this area, visitors can attend a giraffe feeding and a cheetah encounter show.

A giraffe feeding at the Cincinnati Zoo

Probably the most exciting, though, is the hippo exhibit.

Fiona the Hippo is a bit of a mascot at the Cincinnati Zoo. The gift shops are full of Fiona t-shirts, keychains, and even children’s books about her. Fiona was born 6 weeks premature and too small to nurse from her mother. The zoo bottle-fed her. She now lives a happy life with her mom and dad at the zoo. Currently, her little brother is also there. Fritz is less than a year old but will eventually be moved to another zoo for breeding reasons.

Our Favorites: My husband loved the painted dog exhibit. It was impressively large with a waterfall! I loved checking on Fiona in the hippo area!

Jungle Trails

The Cincinnati Zoo has several species of monkeys and apes, most of which are located in Jungle Trails. Here you’ll find orangutans, bonobos, white-handed gibbons, Angolian Colubus monkeys, Coquerel’s Sifakas, and more.

Coquerel's Sifaka at the Cincinnati Zoo

Note: Gibbons can be seen in other parts of the park. They actually have their own island located in the middle of the zoo! And the gorillas have their own “world” on the north side of the park. (Both are in the featured photo at the top of the page.)

Additionally, Jungle Trails has two buildings containing other tropical animals.

Our Favorites: My husband liked the Coquerel’s Sifakas. It reminded him of the TV show “Zoboomafoo“! My favorite exhibit was the white-handed gibbons. An orphaned, baby gibbon (with a lot of energy! LOL) was being raised by two sisters. And, we know they weren’t in Jungle Trails, but the gorillas were high on their list. There were quite a few of them, and they were active!

Cat Canyon and Night Hunters

Cat Cayon holds tigers, cougars, snow leopards, and night hunters. The building with night hunters we found interesting. I didn’t realize Aardvarks were nocturnal before the Cincinnati Zoo!

Our Favorites: My husband liked the ocelot. I found the aardvark interesting!

Roo Valley

Visitors can descend a steep hill to Roo Valley where they’ll find kangaroos and little blue penguins. We were instructed not to touch the kangaroos, but it was still fun to be around them. One was even lounging in the middle of the pathway, forcing us to walk on the grass!

The penguins were also fun to watch. Their exhibit was outdoors with sand on the ground and water to swim.

Little Blue Penguins swimming in Roo Valley at the Cincinnati Zoo

On the walk back up the hill, visitors can see condors and sea eagles.

Our Favorites: We both liked the little blue penguins. They were definitely little! And so cute!

Other Animals at the Cincinnati Zoo

While I don’t think I could possibly share every exhibit at the zoo, I will attempt to name a few popular ones.

Manatee Springs is a popular indoor exhibit. The building highlights Florida’s ecosystem and provides visitors with several viewing windows. We enjoyed it the first time we went, but the manatees were not in the exhibit the second time.

We really enjoy the loop in the middle that includes rhinos, zebras, wolves, flamingos, okapis, and more. Both times we’ve gone to the Cincinnati Zoo we found the animals in this area very active. In fact, I had never seen zebras play fight over a stick like dogs before this zoo! And most recently we got to see the flamingos caring for their eggs.

Flamingos laying and caring for their eggs

There is a section specifically for children called Spaulding Children’s Zoo with alpacas, a fox, a porcupine, llamas, a tortoise, and goats. It is located in the middle of the park.

There is also a red panda exhibit located next to Gibbon Island. Make sure you look up. They like to rest in trees!

Our Favorites: We both would say the zebras were our favorite after watching them play. But my husband also loves Komodo dragons, so that was high on his list (even if he slept the whole time we were there!)

Rides and Experiences at the Cincinnati Zoo

The Cincinnati Zoo has 2 rides: A carousel and a train ride. The train ride is a popular one, as it goes around the lake and the middle of the zoo, passing by many popular animals. Plan to stand in line for a while before boarding the train. The train costs $5/person while the carousel costs $4/person.

A train going around a lake with a waterfall

Kanga Klimb located outside of the kangaroo exhibit is a fun ropes course. It costs $21 per person for the course (lasting 30-60 minutes).

A ropes course high in the trees  at the Cincinnati Zoo

Wings of Wonder Theater is a bird show that we found fun. It’s definitely family-friendly and a bit “too kiddy” for teenagers and some adults. But we found the birds interesting. They showcased an owl, eagle, vulture, African pigmy falcon, cockatoo, and several macaws.

A macaw perched on the handlers hand at the Cincinnati Zoo

Overview of Ohio Zoos

We have come to love Ohio zoos! We’ve been to the Columbus Zoo, Toledo Zoo, Cinncinati Zoo, and Cleveland Zoo. They all seem to be very conscious of animal conservation, seem to take great care of the animals, and are definitely bigger than our local Indianapolis Zoo.

We loved the elephants, penguins, and flashlight fish at the Toledo Zoo.

And we loved the petting zoo, gorillas, lions, reindeer, and manatees at the zoo in Columbus. Plus, the rides at the Columbus Zoo were so fun! They had a camel ride, train ride, and more!

And the Cleveland Zoo has a wonderful Elephant Crossing area and Rain Forest Building. We also loved the koala and tree kangaroos and the amount of space they gave the bears (several species).

Any Suggestions for Those (Like Me!) Who Are Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free?

The Cincinnati Zoo is not known for being friendly to those with food restrictions. I suggest you bring snacks and lunch with you.

Or check out a few of the following options:

Summary of Cinncinati Zoo

My husband and I have come to love the Cincinnati Zoo! There is so much more than Fiona the Hippo. We especially loved the numerous varieties of monkeys and apes, watching the zebras play, seeing the flamingos care for their eggs, and watching the little penguins dive into the water. The Cincinnati Zoo has some amazing exhibits and rides! Hope you enjoy!

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10 months ago

The Cincinnati Zoo sounds and looks like a great place to visit especially with families. Love their conservation efforts and would love to check out Fiona!

10 months ago

The Cincinnati Zoo looks like a great spot for a day of adventure.

10 months ago

Wow! The Cincinnati Zoo is huge! I would love to visit and see all the amazing animals and exhibits.