Get Involved with the Zoo


1927    -The Columbus Zoological Park opens with a small collection of donated animals.
1930    -The Columbus Dispatch and the Ohio State Journal found the Columbus Zoological Society.
1937    -First membership drive begins, leading to the creation of a planned Zoo.
1940-1950 -Fundraising campaigns help acquire animals and aid the construction of major buildings.
1951   -The City of Columbus takes over Zoo operations.
1956   -Colo, the world’s first zoo-born gorilla, is born at the Columbus Zoo.
1978   -Jack Hanna is hired as Zoo Director.
1979   -Cora, the first third-generation zoo-born gorilla, is born at the Columbus Zoo.
1980   -The Zoo receives accreditation by the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (now known as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or AZA).
1984   -The Zoo opens its North America region, housing animals native to this continent.
1985   -Franklin County voters approve a .25 mil levy for the Zoo.
1989   -
The Zoo purchases the adjacent golf course, situated just south of the Zoo, adding an additional 265 acres for expansion opportunities.
1990   -Franklin County voters approve a .5 mil levy for the Zoo.
 1991   -The koala habitat opens and the Columbus Zoo becomes one of the only zoos in the country to permanently house koalas. 
1992   -The Zoo hosts 1.4 million guests – an all time high.
 -The Zoo houses two giant pandas from April to October, raising nearly $730,000
  for the conservation of the giant panda and other endangered species.
-Jack Hanna becomes the Director Emeritus of the Zoo – a title he still holds to this day.
-Jerry Borin is named the Zoo’s Executive Director.
1993   -The Zoo opens Discovery Reef, a 100,000 gallon saltwater aquarium featuring a variety of fish, thousands of pieces of manmade coral, and special wave-producing equipment to provide a diver’s view of ocean life around a coral reef.
1994   -Franklin County voters approve a .75 mil Zoo levy, producing substantial revenue for the Zoo throughout 2005.
1995   -The Zoo begins construction of several zoogeographic regions to be represented as part of an aggressive 10-year master plan.
1998   -The Zoo expands the pachyderm building and its outside yards, allowing for year-round viewing of elephants and rhinoceroses.
-The Zoo renovates its Reptile Building with interactive features, fun facts, and video monitors.
-The Zoo opens African Forest, Phase I, including new gorilla and bonobo habitats and experiences.
1999   -The Zoo partners with the United States Fish and Wildlife Manatee Rehabilitation and Recovery program and opens Manatee Coast, becoming one of only three institutions outside of Florida to house and rehabilitate West Indian manatees.
With the addition of Manatee Coast, the Zoo formally changes its name to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
-The Zoo acquires 130 acres of adjacent land, bringing the Zoo’s total acreage up to 536 acres.
2000   -
The Zoo opens African Forest Phase II – Congo Expedition, with new animal habitats and an aviary.
-The Zoo acquires 52 more acres of land, bringing its total acreage to 588 acres.
2003   -Islands of Southeast Asia opens, featuring orangutans, gibbons, Asian small-clawed otters, komodo dragons, and a boat ride through the islands.
-Bob and Evelyn’s Roadhouse, a nocturnal building and aviary, opens. 
2004   -Voyage to Australia opens at the Zoo, featuring koalas, kangaroos, and a lorikeet aviary.
-Franklin County passed a .75 mill replacement levy to help support the Zoo’s growth through 2015.
-The Zoo celebrates several significant births, including a Western lowland gorilla, a litter of Mexican wolves, two bonobos, and Bodhi, the first Asian elephant born at the Zoo.
2006   -The Zoo opens Asia Quest, a new zoogeographic region themed around the destruction of poaching and the encroaching of human populations into wild spaces.
-In October, the Zoo’s Board of Directors approves the plans for Phase One renovation of Wyandot Lake into a new water park.
-On December 22, Colo, the world’s first zoo-born gorilla, turns 50.
-The Zoo sets records for highest single day attendance (22,619) and highest year attendance (1,565,928).
2007    -Fluffy, the world’s largest reticulated python, arrived at the Zoo.
-A silvered langur is born at the Zoo on July 7, 2007 – an institutional first.
-The Zoo completes major renovations of its parking lot and the Safari Golf Club.
2008   -Jerry Borin, the Zoo’s executive director since 1992, retires.
-The Zoo opens Zoombezi Bay Waterpark, Jungle Jack’s Landing, and Colo’s Cove – all adjacent to the Zoo - to the public.
-Zoombezi Bay, a 22.7 acre park, features three new water slides, a wave pool, an action river, a toddler and family pool area, and a lazy river and adult-only pool area.
-Jungle Jack’s Landing, a 12 acre park, features 14 rides and attractions.
-Colo’s Cove is opened as a corporate and family event space, complete with picnic areas, a gazebo, and concession areas.
-The Zoo unveils its new front entrance, which houses admission and membership offices for both the Zoo and Zoombezi Bay.
-The Zoo begins earthwork and construction on its newest area, Polar Frontier, scheduled to open in 2010.
2009   -On March 27, the Zoo welcomes a male Asian elephant calf; the second calf born at the Zoo. Through suggestions and voting from the central Ohio community, the calf is named Beco, from Phoebe (his mother) and Coco (his father).
-In May, the Zoo opens its Animal Encounters Village, where guests can interact with Zoo animals and staff up close and personal.
2010   -Polar Frontier opens bringing polar bears back to the Zoo.