Face to face with a tiger, Cleveland Zoo opens new exhibit

June 20, 2016

A female Amur Tiger briefly looks out into her new enclosure inside Rosebrough Tiger Passage at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on June 2, 2016.

CLEVELAND — Imagine coming face to face with a tiger and living to tell the tale.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s new Rosebrough Tiger Passage literally puts visitors smack dab in the middle of the tiger exhibit to see the Amur tigers up close and personal.

Unlike the old, moated, grotto-style exhibit where zoo guests had to crane their necks to see the tigers snoozing off in the distance, the new $4.1 million home for the majestic cats puts the animals front and center and gives them plenty of space to play.

Walking inside the exhibit is almost like being inside the hamster cage with the majority of the space left for the beasts to roam instead of the guests. The new tiger habitat is five times the size of the old exhibit.

Glass panels separate the guests from the tigers and there are caged tunnels overhead for them to roam from place to place. Pieces of tape have been placed on the glass as the tigers get used to having a window to the zoo.

Instead of one space for the tigers, the new exhibit is actually four different interconnected enclosures for them to explore.

Zoo officials say the new spaces will also allow the tigers to do what comes natural to them in the wild — whether that be climbing, wandering through a meadow, walking through shallow streams or soaking in pools. It may take some time for the tigers to get used to their new digs and fully explore the space.

The coolest feature are the two tiger trails that allow the cats to walk on paths over the heads of visitors below — the only real danger for guests could come when nature calls and the tiger is on the prowl over your head.

As guests walk up a winding path to the new exhibit, they are greeted by a series of signs that not only offer cool facts about the tigers but also some sobering ones too about the tigers’ struggle for survival with threats from hunters and poachers and even development.

The real stars of the attraction are the zoo’s two Amur (Siberian) tigers.

Dasha, a female, was born at the Cleveland Zoo in 2001, and Klechka, 12, a male, was born at the Toledo Zoo.

The male tigers are 8 to 10 feet long including a 3-foot-long tail. They can weigh anywhere from 450 to 675 pounds.

Female tigers are typically 8 feet long and can weigh 200 to 350 pounds.

Zoo officials say an Amur tiger’s stripes are unique so there are no two that are identical.

The Amur tiger is now found only in the wild in the Sikhote-Alin range in the Primorski and Khabarovsk provinces in Russia with small pockets in the border area of China and North Korea.

Aside from poachers, zoo officials say, the tigers’ natural heavily forested habitats are threatened by loggers, miners and road construction.

Classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, there are an estimated 540 left in the wild.

To raise awareness of the threats to animal species, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has created a new website,

The website also offers tips on how to avoid purchasing products that threaten not only the endangered animals, but also their habitats.

This all begs the question whether an exhibit like this and a website make a difference? With 1.1 million visitors a year to the Cleveland Zoo alone — it is certainly a good start.



Where: 3900 Wildlife Way

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Extended summer hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Admission: $14.25 per person, $12.25 for seniors ages 62 or older, $10.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2, and zoo members. Parking is free.

For more information: Call 216-661-6500 or visit



Associated Press