News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.

Greater Akron Chamber

Knight Foundation


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment




Exploradio: A new day at the zoo
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is saying goodbye to its long-time director Steve Tayor who shares some of the changes he's seen over the decades
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Steve Taylor on safari in Madagascar greets a mama lemur and youngster. Taylor retires after 24 years as director of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, leaving a legacy of conservation, engagement, and excitment at the 130 year-old park.
Courtesy of Cleveland Zoo
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

The long-time director of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo steps down next week after nearly a quarter-century of running the park.  

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair talks with Steve Taylor about how changes at the zoo during his tenure reflect a changing world.

 

Exploradio: A new day at the zoo

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:50)


Saving the Rainforest

The Cleveland Zoo’s new Rainforest exhibit was an empty shell when Steve Taylor took over 24 years ago. Scandal-ridden, behind schedule and over budget, the project needed to be rescued.

He says it was just, "not a well-thought-out project we’re standing outside on a little mound here, and there was no flood protection and it’s in a flood plain.”

Taylor says the 1980’s design, even then, was behind the times.  “I don’t know what they were thinking. Most zoo exhibits today sort of hide the building and the exhibits become the thing, but this is a sort of iconic building with a geodesic dome and a lot of glass,  and so the entrance is very un-zoo like.”

But for Taylor, those problems are forgotten as we enter the moist, warm, glasses-fogging air of the Rainforest.  It was Taylor’s idea to put a 25-foot waterfall at the entrance, tumbling over a Mayan temple whose base cradles tiny tamarins and marmosets.  

We follow a meandering path through tropical growth up to the second-floor replica tropical research station. It’s here where Taylor’s original vision truly comes to life.

A new role for zoos

In the Rainforest's simulated research hut, a female orangutan sits in a window, and separated by a half-inch of glass, inspects us as much as we inspect her.  Taylor’s Rainforest is a natural setting that immerses you in the animal’s environment. It’s also the face of a changing mission.

He says zoos have uniquely changed from, "sort of menageries where people can gawk and maybe learn a little about animals to really being conservation agencies.”

Taylor says zoos in America together spend 130 million dollars outside their walls each year on conservation efforts.  The Cleveland Zoo supports projects protecting turtles in Asia, gorillas in Africa, and wildlife here in Northeast Ohio.

Animal encounters

A lion beckons us to meet two animals acquired thanks to changes in Ohio law.

Taylor introduces Mufasa and his two females.  He says the zoo needed some female lions and because of the new ban on exotic animals in the state, or at least a permit process, "the person who had these lions wanted to give them up, and so we were able to take them and bring them here.”

We turn to explore the newest exhibit, the African Elephant Crossing. It opened in May of 2011, costing about $25 million dollars.  It’s got three outdoor yards and seven indoor stalls.  Taylor says the zoo is a sort of, "senior citizens home for elephants right now, but hopefully someday we’ll have breedable elephants.”

It’s the final major project of Taylor’s administration, and the Cleveland zoo now includes the Rainforest, the Wolf Wilderness, an animal hospital and the Australian Adventure.  And while the elephants may be seniors, Taylor isn’t planning to slow down after his own retirement.

Passing the torch

I ask Taylor whether he has any mixed feelings about leaving.  He emphatically replies - “No, not at all. I’ve had a great 40 years and I’m not leaving conservation and wildlife.  I’m going to lead safaris; I’ll do some consulting work; I just won’t be the director of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  But I will come to the zoo a couple times a month.  It’s my hometown zoo and I love zoos.  I’m 65 years-old; it’s time to give it to someone else.”

That someone else is head-curator Chris Kuhar, who takes the reins January 1st.

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

From warehouse to writer: Terry Pluto's Thanksgiving thank you
Dear Terry: On my 8th cup of coffee trying to get Thanksgiving "Brunch" done ahead of time because I work nights. However, I just had to stop to contact yo...

The first big private gift comes in for the pro football HOF project
The HOF has needed a shot in the arm for many years and this project will go a long way to getting the attraction the attention it deserves (next: upgrad...

Environmental study nears completion in East Liverpool
Twenty years ago my twin sister and I protested the building and operation of the WTI facility citing several studies that indicated the risk of cancer due to ...

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
I live in the block from Broad St to the Hall of Fame and will be impacted by the expansion. I am in the process of selling my home and planned to long before i...

Cleveland redeploys police to replace rejected red-light traffic cameras
Periodic rotational enforcement without warning does NOT change behavior and the city officials know that. This is the basis of all officer-run enforcement trap...

New enrollment period offers more insurance options
The removal of federal funding for healthcare CO-OPs may limit the growth of the CO-OP movement. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=6381

The family of Boardman vet killed in Vietnam receives his medals
My name is Mike Eisenbraun. I am Larry's brother. I was 14 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. He has been gone for 46 years but it seems like yester...

Cleveland seniors are creating new wealth -- and facing new challenges
Why is anyone surprised that we people over 65 are not retiring? If you have been paying attention, defined company funded pensions were phasing out in the eigh...

Ohio company cuts off a dairy supplier after allegations of animal abuse
these people should be held accountable for their actions. i would be more than pleased to see a year or more behind bars. i will NEVER eat anything that comes ...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University