One of the only zoos in the country with a full size waterpark, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium boasts Zoombezi Bay, a 22.7 acre waterpark that features 15 state-of-the-art waterslides, a wave pool, an action river, a lazy river, private cabanas, a kiddie play pool and a whole lot more.
The 82-year-old zoo exists to enrich its community’s quality of life and to inspire a greater appreciation of wildlife for the advancement of conservation action. The idea behind Zoombezi Bay, which opened in the summer of 2008, is to generate revenue and increase the length of stay and visitorship for the Columbus Zoo.
Located on the site of the former Wyandot Lake Amusement Park, Zoombezi Bay is a themed shipwrecked water paradise. Made famous by Jack Hanna, the zoo also features Jungle Jack’s Landing, a dry amusement park and play area, as well as hundreds of animals from around the world. With his love and respect for animals as well as his passion and energy, Hanna took the zoo from a small facility to one of the nation’s largest and most well respected zoos. The zoo strives to provide a great experience for visitors and a better future for all living things. Zoombezi Bay is one of the ways it can do just that.
Site amenities include retail, restaurant and service facilities. Attractions include: Wild Tides, a 544,500-gallon wave pool where waves can reach up-to four feet high; Croctail Creek, a lazy river that is 850 feet in length; Roaring Rapids, an action river that features nine special features that surprises guests at every turn; Barracuda Bay, an 18,000-square-foot custom pool divided into three interactive play areas, including a four-and-a-half story tree house with 100 different gadgets, gizmos and slides; and Katoomba Lagoon, a 4,000-square-foot water playground just for the little tykes that features 12 marine animal play structures and includes an 11,350 gallon pool that is 12-14 inches deep.
The Sea Splash is home to the Slippery Seals tower that contains a 310-foot slide; the Sea Snakes raft slide that includes a bowl element; and Sea Tubes raft ride. Other features include the Cyclone, a four-person raft ride that cruises into the largest enclosed reducing-radius tunnel in the world; the Tahitian Twister; and Dolphin Dash slide.
The Columbus Zoo has grown significantly over the past two decades. At 586 acres, it has become the third largest zoo of the 220 AZA-accredited zoos in North America. With more than 1.5 million visitors annually, Columbus has the ninth highest attendance among zoos, and ranks in the top 10 in many other categories.
In addition, the number of animals is now at 720 species and more than 6,300 specimens including 36 species that are listed as endangered or threatened, and 130 species listed in CITES, the global Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. The zoo’s education programs reach tens of thousands of children each year both at the zoo and within the community. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium supports conservation programs in 30 countries. This organization is truly making a difference for wildlife.
The City of Columbus and Franklin County own the zoo real estate, the citizens of Franklin County support the zoo levy and the non-profit Columbus Zoological Park Association manages, raises funds and operates the zoo. The growth and development of the zoo is a result of this successful public-private partnership.
With the passage of the zoo levy that is in effect from 2006 to 2015, the acquisition of real estate for future expansion, the completion of the relocated Powell Road, the opening of Zoombezi Bay in 2008 and the start of the largest new exhibit ever built at the zoo, Polar Frontier, there are exciting opportunities for the future.
NUTS & BOLTS
Aquatic space: 125,000 square feet
Year opened: 2008
Cost: $21 million
Dream feature: An 18,000-square-foot custom pool divided into three interactive play areas, including a four-and-a-half story tree house with a hundred different gadgets, gizmos and slides. .
- Dream Designer: Weber Group Inc.
- Master Planner/Design Architect: Bruce Robinson Design Group
- Aquatic Design/Construction: Aquatic Development Group
- Slide Design/Builder/Contractor: ProSlide Technology Inc.
- Chemical Control Systems: Chemtrol
- Filter/Sanitization Systems: Whitten by Aquatic Development Group
- Flowmeters: Georg Fischer Signet
- Gutters: Whitten by Aquatic Development Group
- Heaters: Raypak
- Inflatables/Rafts: Zebec , Sevylor
- Lighting: Hayward
- Lockers: American Locker ,Tiffin Metal Products
- Lounge Chairs: Patio Magic
- Pumps: Marlow Pumps, div., ITT Corp.
- Sun Shades: Anchor Industries Inc.
- Water Play Structures: Custom Fun Co.
- Waterslides: ProSlide Technology Inc.
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