CLEVELAND - Cleveland Metroparks Zoo announced a new project to significantly improve and expand the tropical bear habitats in Wilderness Trek to create Bear Hollow. The four new habitats, opening in summer 2023, will be nearly triple the size of the former spaces and enhance guest viewing and animal care efforts with Andean and sloth bears.
Bear Hollow will completely transform the former 50-year-old exhibits with significantly larger and more complex habitats for the animals. New features will include climbing structures, elevated resting areas and dig pits to provide opportunities for the bears’ natural behaviors as well as future reproduction of these keystone species.
“Our Andean and sloth bears are incredible ambassadors for their vulnerable counterparts in the wild,” said Dr. Chris Kuhar, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director. “The new Bear Hollow will be transformational for our guests and, more importantly for our bears, and will provide future opportunities for our Zoo to play a role in sustaining these important species.”
Cleveland Metroparks Director of Communications, Jacqueline Manning told WTAM News the new glass viewing will allow guests to get nose to nose with the bears and a separate viewing area will allow guests to get up-close views of animal care staff conducting training for bear health and husbandry monitoring. An immersive treehouse, centered in Bear Hollow, will allow guests to have nearly 360-degree views of the new habitats.
Construction on Bear Hollow is expected to begin in July and will be open by early summer 2023. The approximately $7.7 million project is supported by $3.5 million from the Cleveland Zoological Society including a leadership gift from a long-term donor. The bears currently at the zoo will be located to other zoos during construction but will return to their new home after the project is completed.
Below is the conceptual site plan.
Bear Hollow’s four separate habitat areas will be interconnected, providing the bears more complexity by offering variable areas to experience similar to the award-winning designs of Daniel Maltz Rhino Reserve and Rosebrough Tiger Passage. Enhancements behind-the-scenes will also include multi-story resting areas to better support nesting bears.
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