CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is preparing for a big weekend.
All guests to the Zoo and The RainForest will be given free admission on Saturday, April 26, marking the first free weekend day for all visitors to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in nearly 20 years.
This free event was announced earlier this month by the Cleveland Foundation as a centennial gift to the community.
The zoo will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"What a tremendous gift to the community and what an impactful way of allowing Cleveland Metroparks, the Zoo, and Zoo Society to share our combined mission of conservation education," said Dr. Chris Kuhar, Executive Zoo Director. "We invite everyone to come out and play and explore at the Zoo for free."
In honor of the foundation's centennial, Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Cleveland Zoological Society are joining forces to develop special family programming throughout Cleveland Foundation Day at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The programming will focus on sustainability and conservation and their impact on wildlife and wild places through fun, interactive activities for families.
"Cleveland Metroparks was established, in part, as a result of one of the first studies the foundation commissioned back in 1919. Today, it's impossible to imagine our community without Cleveland Metroparks and the Zoo," said Robert E. Eckardt, executive vice president of the Cleveland Foundation. "We want to help make sure Greater Clevelanders enjoy the great nationally-renowned assets available right in our own backyards, which is why we're opening the gates to the Zoo for this rare free day opportunity for Northeast Ohio families."
In addition to its role in the formation of Cleveland Metroparks, the Cleveland Foundation supported last year's transfer of the lakefront parks to the Park District – adding significant new "jewels" to the "Emerald Necklace." The foundation has also supported the construction of many of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's attractions, including African Elephant Crossing and the koala exhibit in Australian Adventure.
"The Cleveland Foundation's centennial is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on and celebrate its many contributions to Cleveland Metroparks and the quality of life in Northeast Ohio," said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman. "We're honored that the foundation has chosen us to be part of their celebration and we look forward to hosting Cleveland Foundation Day at the Zoo as an event the entire community can enjoy."
The foundation and its donors have provided a total of $6 million in support to Cleveland Metroparks, as well as to the Cleveland Zoological Society in support of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
A large number of Greater Clevelanders have taken advantage of the foundation's previous "Cleveland Foundation Day" gifts to the community. Cleveland Foundation Day on the Greater Cleveland RTA on Jan. 16 led to a 25 percent increase overall on RTA buses and trains. Cleveland Foundation Weekend on North Coast Harbor on Feb. 22 and 23 brought a record 16,450 visitors to Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum's 8,000 visitors was a 500-percent increase over a typical Sunday. Last month's Cleveland Foundation Day at Cleveland International Film Festival drew the biggest Monday audience in the Festival's 37-year history with nearly 8,000 attendees.