I explored Cincinnati in the late winter of 2016. I neither came in with high or low expectations nor did I leave overly satisfied or dissatisfied. Midway through my trip, I was reminded of what Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, California: "There is no there there". Did she mix up Oakland with Cincinnati? Initially, I could have swore she did! My first impressions of Cincy were of a big, sprawling Midwest city. Been there, done that. You got your gigantic strip malls, wide highways, and flat, nondescript terrain. But, after awhile, the city grows on you. I'll make a few posts about Cincy. For my first, let's talk animals!
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a cool place. I cannot recommend it enough. If you're in Cincy for a couple of days, visit the zoo. You won't regret it. But, before I heap more plaudits on this place, I have some criticism. $27 gets you in at the gate. Tack on an extra $10 for parking. $37 total! Cincinnati Zoo, you're not Disney's Animal Kingdom or San Diego Zoo. Please lower those prices. Also, I visited when the botanical gardens were patches of dirt, but there's no discount for that. Additionally, the food service was kind of a letdown— long lines and lackluster choices. Finally, too many empty exhibits. For example, aside from us patrons, the Jungle Trails attraction (home to orangutans, gibbons, and bonobos) was devoid of primates.
The gorilla exhibit was perhaps the most fascinating thing to see. A ton of money went into this. The gorillas were utterly fascinating to watch. They looked so docile, yet undeniably powerful at the same time. You might recall that a gorilla was shot here when a boy somehow breached the enclosure. I visited one month prior to this event, and although I'm not sure if I saw that particular gorilla (Harambe), I have no idea how a kid could have gotten down there.
The rhino exhibits were quite impressive. I believe the zoo had white, black, and Indian rhinoceroses, and to my amazement, not too many folks lined the fences to see these guys. They were worth the price of admission. Just watching them eat and observing how they interact was spectacular.
The zoo also had an impressive cat exhibit. Cougars, tigers, and cheetahs feature, but the cheetahs were on vacation when I was there. Noticing a theme?
The African Savannah was both unexpected and very well done. Although no amount of foliage and giraffes cold have convinced me I was anywhere but Ohio, the exhibit was nevertheless enthralling. I recall getting very close to giraffes and flamingos. Separated from this exhibit were the elephants.
The were also polar bears and manatees. Overall, great zoo. If I lived in Cincy, I'd gladly buy a season pass to this place.