The Cincinnati Zoo's highly anticipated (at least by this writer) Roo Valley is opening Aug. 18.
And it isn't just your typical animal habitat and exhibit area. Oh, no. This is an interactive experience that allows visitors to enter a kangaroo walkabout, a 15,000-square-foot green space where roos will be roaming as you wander by. Like you are in the same space as the kangaroos. With them.
“It feels like you’ve entered another world when you’re in the walkabout,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard in a release. “It’s lush and beautiful with kangaroos right next to you! And right around the corner you get face to face with 30+ penguins splashing around in crystal clear water.”
Yes. Not only does this tiny land down under (it is actually technically down under — located where the Wildlife Canyon used to be and now below the new Hops Beer Garden) feature adorable marsupials, it is also home to a bunch of little blue penguins. These birds, native to Australia and New Zealand are nicknamed "fairy penguins" because they are so tiny and cute.
“Our habitat designers worked with animal staff to better understand the needs and preferences of both species,” said Maynard. “As a result, there are enrichment opportunities, such as nooks in the rockwork where keepers can hide favorite foods, built in throughout both animal habitats. These features promote natural behaviors for overall optimal health and wellbeing.”
Roo Valley features 100% rainwater, says the Zoo, as well as a green roof over the penguins and a geothermal well system to heat and cool the pools and reduce energy usage.
If you don't feel like going on a walkabout with the kangaroos (why wouldn't you?), you can enjoy a "coldie," as they say, in the Hops Beer Garden and watch them from above. Or watch the progress happening over on the Kanga Klimb, an ADA-accessible ropes course and play area that will be open in 2021.
The Cincinnati Zoo is located at 3400 Vine St., Avondale. Get more details on how to become a member, as well as timed tickets and other COVID safety precautions at cincinnatizoo.org.