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Akron Zoo Announces $17 Million Expansion With 'Wild Asia' and 'Pride of Africa'

photo of Pride of Africa area
This rendering shows the Akron Zoo's planned Pride of Africa area, slated to open next year.

The Akron Zoo is undergoing a $17 million expansion over the next two years, with the aim of increasing conservation and education efforts.

Next summer, the zoo will open its new Pride of Africa area, with an expanded habitat for a pride of lions, plus a new feeding area for goats.

Akron Zoo President Doug Piekarz said the goal is to immerse guests in the culture of the Maasai, and then show visitors how that relates to Northeast Ohio’s own environmental challenges.

“People love what they understand, they understand what they learn, and they’re only willing to protect those things that that loving connection has already been made to. So everything we’re doing is all about trying to connect people back to wildlife to demonstrate what that long-term value really is,” Piekarz said.

After the Pride of Africa area opens, the zoo will unveil Wild Asia in 2020, with a new Sumatran tiger habitat, an expanded area for red pandas, and a pair of rare white-cheeked gibbons.

“They really would like to see examples of larger primates and to learn more about them and to tell their conservation story," Piekarz said. "And in the case of the white-cheeked gibbon, it’s one of the most critically endangered species that we will be working with here at the Akron Zoo, with 100 or less animals left in the wild.”