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Today's Family Magazine

Cleveland Museum of Natural History opens innovative new outdoor wildlife center

Aug 21, 2016 06:03PM ● By Today's Family

Artist rendering of the overhead bobcat trailway at the new Perkins Wildlife Center

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will open the doors to a world of discovery when it unveils its dynamic new outdoor wildlife center on Saturday, September 3. 

The Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden is an innovative two-acre outdoor gallery showcasing live native Ohio animals and plants.  It connects visitors to nature through an exploration of five ecological habitats.  The center is the first visitor experience to come to life as part of the museum’s centennial expansion and renovation project that will transform the museum for its 100-year anniversary. 

Designed according to standards of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden is a vibrant and enriching home to the museum’s living collection of wildlife and plants.  Aerial trailways allow bobcats, foxes, coyotes and raccoons to traverse above visitors.  Elevated walkways place visitors in the canopy of beech and oak forests providing stunning views of wildlife, foliage and Cleveland’s skyline.

Visitors will experience up-close animal encounters.  The native Ohio animals showcased in the center have come from rehabilitation or rescue centers.  They were injured or orphaned and unable to survive in the wild.

The Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Wood Garden features:
  • Native Ohio animals – 40 mammals (bobcats, foxes, coyotes, river otters, raccoons, porcupine, groundhog) and 60 birds, including songbirds, eagles, falcons, owls and other birds of prey
  • Overhead trailways - Bobcats, coyotes, foxes and raccoons can climb above visitors and pursue their natural curiosity
  • Wetlands - A 50-foot-long curving acrylic wall offering panoramic underwater views into the otter pool where visitors can watch the playful acrobatics of North American river otters and see a wetland community teeming with fish, turtles and frogs
  • Elevated walkways - Visitors can look down on the coyote, fox, bobcat and porcupine exhibits while viewing colorful songbirds
  • Songbird Aviary – Vibrant songbirds fill the forest canopy with song and color
  • Eagle Experience - An aviary showcasing bald and golden eagles
  • Raptor Center - A stable housing birds of prey with viewing bays where visitors can see the wildlife specialists caring for the birds
The museum’s centennial transformation project will reinvent the museum’s campus for its 100-year anniversary in 2020.  The multiyear project is designed to create powerful and engaging experiences that will capitalize on the resources of the world-renowned institution and fulfill its mission of inspiring a passion for science and nature for generations to come.

The Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden is free with museum general admission. Admission fees are: $15 adults; $10 ages 3-18, college students with valid ID and seniors over age 60; free for children 2 and under.  Admission Wednesdays after 5 p.m. is $7.  Shafran Planetarium shows are $5 with general admission.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is located at 1 Wade Oval Drive in University Circle.
Visit for more info.