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Cleveland Metroparks Blog

A Cleveland Metroparks winter gem: The RainForest

Posted: 2/14/2014
Posted By: Laura Andrews
Need a place to warm up this winter but want to stay close to home? Did you know Cleveland Metroparks Zoo offers a tropical oasis open year-round? It's The RainForest, and here, it's always 80 degrees!

The RainForest opened on November 19, 1992 and recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. The building cost $30 million to build, took eight years to plan and covers two acres. You'll see more than 10,000 plants and over 600 animals across Asia, Africa and the Americas during your visit.

Here are a few highlights you won't want to miss!

The Waterfall
Just inside The RainForest's main entrance, you're greeted with a beautiful waterfall. It's a great place to pause for a moment, start to enjoy the 80 degrees and it always makes a beautiful photo op.

Fun fact, the jungle cascade waterfall spills 600 gallons of water per minute down its 25-foot-fall. That's 240 times the amount that comes out of the average home showerhead. But unlike your shower at home, the waterfall reuses the same water over and over by pumping the water collected at the bottom back to the top for re-use.

Bornean Orangutan Exhibit

Located on the upper level, a troop of Bornean orangutans demonstrates their arboreal nature by climbing 39 feet above visitors inside the geodesic dome.

Ever wonder how the Zoo cleans the giant glass dome on top of the The RainForest? Well, the truth is, the Zoo doesn't -- we leave that job to the professionals! Twice a year, trained building window cleaners carefully climb a special ladder that is mounted to the dome, and capable of rolling all the way around it, to clean the windows.

Francois' Langur Exhibit

This large exhibit extends from the first to the second floor of The RainForest. It includes many flat surfaces, branches and vines that allow the langurs to approach the public viewing glass. You'll get up close with these primates!

Tropical Rainstorm

Sounds of thunder draw visitors to the large lower-level exhibit featuring Indian crested porcupines. Every 12 minutes, a tropical rainstorm occurs, complete with lightening, wind, thunder and rain!


Located on the upper level, the 8,000 square-foot, free-flight aviary includes a waterfall and pool where scarlet ibis, roseate spoonbills and other birds wade. Nearby, check out prehensile-tailed porcupines and sloths as well as anteaters and capybaras gathered near an eroded mudbank. More than 50 specimens of 15 different bird species fly freely overhead.

Fun facts about the aviary:
  • There are five animals from opening day in 1992 that still live in The RainForest: Riva, a female scarlet macaw estimated to be about 28 years old, Thaddeus, the prehensile-tailed skink and three roseate spoonbill siblings who hatched out of the same clutch.

  • Don't miss the prehensile-tailed porcupine near the aviary. The first animal born in The RainForest was a baby prehensile-tailed porcupine. Did you know a baby porcupine is called a porcupette? (Just about the cutest baby name in the animal kingdom!) Baby porcupines are born with soft quills, which mom no doubt appreciates, which gradually harden within just a few days.

About Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Through March 31, admission is discounted to $8.25 per person, $5.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and is free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Residents of Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township enjoy free Zoo admission on Mondays. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.


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