The largest exhibit in the Akron Zoo history, Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge, will debut July 20, 2013


AKRON, Ohio – The Akron Zoo is ready to unveil their largest opening in their 60 year history on July 20, 2013. Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge will include grizzly bears, river otters, red wolves, bald eagles, coyotes and a walk-in aviary.

The first exhibit people will see in Grizzly Ridge is the bald eagle exhibit. This exhibit, which is over double the size of the former exhibit, will house five bald eagles. Two of the bald eagles are juveniles and have not gotten the signature white feathers on their heads, which are currently covered in brown feathers. Five bald eagles are the most ever exhibited at one time by the zoo.

Next visitors will get a fully immersive experience inside the zoo’s walk-in aviary. Sixty-five Ohio birds will surround visitors as they are suspended 16 feet in the air onto a rope bridge and tree house.

The grizzly bear exhibit, at 17,000 square-feet, will become one of the largest exhibits at the Akron Zoo. The two grizzly bears were orphaned in the wild after being born in 2011 in Wyoming and brought to the zoo from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo last month. The exhibit will feature a pool and heated rocks for the bears.

River otters will make their return to the Akron Zoo as part of the expansion. The river otter pool holds 30,000 gallons of water and gives visitors several vantage points to view the otters. For a really close experience with the otters, kids will be able to slide through the exhibit in a fully enclosed acrylic tube with the otters swimming around them.

Two new canine species will make their debut at the zoo with the addition of red wolves and coyotes. Because they were just born recently, the coyotes will not be on exhibit when it opens, but visitors will get to see and learn about coyotes with a video monitor installed at their exhibit. The coyotes are expected to be on exhibit sometime in late August.

A wood statue of a mother grizzly bear and her two cubs will greet visitors as they enter Grizzly Ridge. The statues were carved with a chainsaw by Michael Blaine of Dreamwood from an oak tree that was deemed unsafe and had to be removed in the Grizzly Ridge area.Blaine will also carve a raccoon and eagle. 

Grizzly Ridge encompasses approximately four of the zoo’s 52 acres. The $12.8 million dollar exhibit was primarily funded through levy proceeds along with generous donation of many individuals, corporations and foundations.

The new exhibit sits right on the historic Portage Path. The trail connected the Cuyahoga and TuscarawasRivers and was approximately eight miles in length. Native Americans used this path to transport their canoes overland from one river to the other. Using canoes, Native Americans could travel by water from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico except for this small section. A bronze arrowhead marker will be placed in Grizzly Ridge to identify the path. Grizzly Ridge will also include a dig site for children that will enable them to find artifacts that could have been found along the trail 10,000 years ago.

Several green elements have been incorporated into Grizzly Ridge including rain barrels, a green roof, pervious concrete, bio-retention filters and more. The project will be applying for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and is projected to achieve silver status.

The exhibit will bear the names Mike and Mary Stark, after two of the zoo’s most ardent supporters and friends. Mike has been a zoo board member since 1994 and is the past Chairman of the Board.

The Akron Zoo is open 361 days a year. Zoo hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and admission is $10 for adults, $8.50 for senior citizens, $7 for children (ages 2-14). Children under two are free and parking is $2.00. For more information visit or call (330) 375-2550.

Founded in 1953, the Akron Zoo is a non-profit, world conservation Zoo with over 700 animals from around the world. Located just west of Downtown Akron, the Zoo strives to provide a dynamic, financially responsible, guest centered animal experience that is energized by innovation and fun. The Akron Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.

Monday, July 15, 2013

David Barnhardt
Director of Marketing & Guest Services
Ph – (330) 375-2550 ext. 7238


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