New Cincinnati Zoo habitats will house black bears and sea otters next summer

A rendering of the plan for the Cincinnati Zoo's new black bear exhibit. CONTRIBUTED

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A rendering of the plan for the Cincinnati Zoo's new black bear exhibit. CONTRIBUTED

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has plans to otterly transform the Bear Hill area into three new habitats to create a beary warm welcome for two new species coming in summer 2023.

The area formerly known as Bear Hill will be changed into Bear Ridge, Sea Otter Coast and a third habitat dedicated to North American backyard wildlife, according to a press release from the zoo.

“The lower grotto area, which will become Sea Otter Coast, features a massive underwater viewing area where visitors will get close up opportunities to see sea otters play, eat, swim and engage in enrichment activities,” said Thayne Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo, in a press release. “The upper areas will be redesigned to provide great homes for black bears and other species native to North America.”

Existing moats in the area will be filled in to make room for the animals and for winding paths that will bring visitors off the main path and into Bear Ridge.

“Bear Hill was ahead of its time when it was built in 1937, but it hasn’t aged well and needed to be refreshed and upgraded to provide a great home for animals and a better visitor experience,” said Maynard in the press release.

The expansion is part of the zoo’s “More Home to Roam” campaign, which launched in 2018. The campaign’s goal is to raise $150 million by 2025 to build better homes for the animals living in the zoo.

So far, More Home to Roam has allowed for the creation of Roo Valley and African Penguin Point.

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