Zagat rated the Cincinnati Zoo one of the top zoo's in the nation. It's also been rated as 1 of the top 10 zoos for kids. With all this in mind, it seemed like it would be a fun idea to check it out.
We parked at the zoo- which cost money. We paid our entrance fee to the zoo- it costs less for young children (under 12) than adults. It was your typical price to enter the zoo- reasonable as long as you intend to stay for at least a few hours to get your money worth. We got our zoo map at the door (which you need because this zoo is large) and headed in.
There are 500 animals and 3000 different plant species at the zoo so it was kind of overwhelming to know where to start. Elephants have always been one of my favorite animals so we headed over in that direction first. As we walked I noticed how clean the zoo itself was. There are lots of visitors, but there was no litter or sign of unruly crowds anywhere. The sidewalks were nicely manicured and clean and although there was a slightly zoo-y smell (as one would expect in such a large zoo) it was not too noticeable.
The animal habitats are very nice- this is not your typical zoo with animals in cages with steel bars and a little pool and a few trees. It really looked like natural habitats- lots of lush plant life and greens, and a very jungle like feeling for the jungle animals. The bears had a lovely and large pool. I know the zoo is also known for conservation and animal care, and it definitely showed. You could tell that great attention was paid to having the animals be comfortable and feel at home. This made me very happy. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable in zoos because I feel like the animals are just stuck in human made cages for our amusement- but here I felt like they were really there because the zoo cares about the animals and teaching kids about animals and conservation.
Overall I would highly recommend a visit to this zoo. There is every kind of animal you could expect to see, from the typical snake and lizard and monkey house to the cute little polar bears and pandas. The zoo also has traveling exhibits that come in periodically throughout the year so you can see other animals you would not necessarily expect or get to see at your average zoo. They do a really good job making sure everything feels natural for the animals and that everything is clean and nice. The one down side is the only refreshments/snacks at the zoo were quite expensive- but again I suppose this is to be expected when you have a monopoly on the market. But I recommend you have lunch before you go to avoid the problem.