What We Do Animal Care

A recognized national leader in animal care and welfare, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo supports a holistic view of animal health – from diet, to enrichment and environment. 

The Zoo’s Animal Care program consists of all aspects of care — from the foods the animals eat, to habitat design and enrichment opportunities those animals receive, to innovative research that informs future management practices.

Each year, the Cleveland Zoological Society provides $200,000 to the Zoo for animal care. Research supplies and equipment, high-quality food, and staff training are supported by generous private philanthropy. In addition, Zoo Society donors have funded Zoo facilities — the Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine and an on-site hay storage barn — to support animal care and welfare teams.

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Animal Husbandry and Research

Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders: The Zoo’s animal care and veterinary teams employ expert knowledge of endocrinology, veterinary medicine and behavioral sciences to ensure optimal care for the Zoo’s many species. The staff develops and supports cooperative breeding programs, as well as facilitates research and management initiatives at the regional and global level. The Zoo maintains educational and research partnerships with Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga Community College, Miami University and The Ohio State University to train graduate-level students in conservation education, research and veterinary science.

Advancement in Animal Behavior: Behavior is often the most immediate and reliable indicator of animal health and welfare. Animals exhibiting natural behaviors are essential for the Zoo to fulfill its important mission of increasing knowledge and appreciation of wildlife among visitors. To study the animal’s behavior, scientists at the Zoo monitor activity levels, diet, interaction among individual animals, and how species use the space in their habitats.

A Leader in Research: The Zoo’s Wildlife Endocrinology Laboratory staff aims to improve the health and welfare of animals in Cleveland, and free-ranging wildlife populations around the world. Some epidemiology projects Zoo Society donors have supported include understanding and controlling diabetes in zoo animals, avian influenza, and investigating reproductive challenges in elephants. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is one of the few zoos in the country with an endocrinology lab able to measure hormones to assess the health and welfare of animals at the Zoo.

The Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine: The Zoo’s Steffee Center is the hub for leadership development and research training. The privately funded Steffee Center is state of the art. There are multiple surgery rooms, labs and holding facilities. The Steffee Center also houses a full CT scanner for large animals; one of the few zoos in North America with this capability.

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