Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's elephant exhibit honored at zoo conference

Posted: September 19, 2012

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is proud to announce that its newest exhibit, African Elephant Crossing, received two prestigious awards last week during the annual Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

The AZA awarded African Elephant Crossing with the Top Honor in the Education Award category and a Significant Achievement Award in the Exhibit Design category.

The Education Award recognizes outstanding achievement in educational program design, judging programs on their ability to promote conservation, knowledge, attitudes and behavior, show innovation and measure success.

The Exhibit Award honors excellence in live animal display, dedication to conservation issues and vivid simulation of natural habitat in construction.

“Congratulations to the entire staff, especially the Conservation Education division, for all of the hard work they have put into making African Elephant Crossing a truly world-class exhibit,” said Zoo Director Steve Taylor. “

The AZA awards are a testament to our commitment to the best in animal care and public education.” One of the Zoo’s goals when developing any new exhibit is to create engaging educational programming. African Elephant Crossing’s educational programs focus on elephant care and management, key conservation issues, sustainable living and the need for concrete action on the behalf of endangered species.

These four focus areas form a central theme with one main message: “People and Elephants: A Delicate Balance of Survival.” Funded half by Cleveland Metroparks’ general fund and half by the Cleveland Zoological Society’s largest-ever capital campaign, the five-acre, $25 million African Elephant Crossing builds on the Zoo’s long tradition of elephant care. The state-of-the-art exhibit showcases best practices in animal management, naturalistic environments and conservation education and was designed to be as energy efficient and environmentally responsible as possible -- qualifying it for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

African Elephant Crossing opened in 2011 and is home to five adult elephants, a mob of meerkats, an aviary and other African animals. It includes three outdoor ranges, the Sydell L. Miller Elephant Care & Visitor Center, the Crossing, multiple viewing areas onto the ranges and a special “nose-to-trunk” window.

African Elephant Crossing wasn’t the Zoo’s only award winner during the conference. Curator of Conservation & Science, Dr. Kristen Lukas, Ph.D., was honored with an Outstanding Service Award for her work on a conservation publication. With more than 3,000 animals on 183 acres, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo creates compelling experiences that connect people with wildlife and inspire personal responsibility for conserving the natural world. The AZA is a nonprofit organization that accredits zoos and aquariums and is dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education and recreation.

To learn more, visit or call (216) 661-6500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Zoo Marketing & Public Relations
Joe Yachanin (216) 635-3310
Sue Allen, Manager
(216) 635-3338

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