The Akron Zoo announced Wednesday that its new $7.7 million Grizzly Ridge exhibit will open July 20.
The attraction will be home to the zoo’s grizzly bears and other animals.
Billed as one of the largest expansion projects in the zoo’s history, work began on the Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge in 2011.
It covers about 3.5 acres and will be home to more than six animal species never before seen at the Akron Zoo, including black bears, red wolves and coyotes.
The area also will be the new home for the zoo’s collection of river otters and bald eagles. An enclosed slide will run through the otter pool for children to glide through as the critters swim around them.
The area will also include a walk-in aviary with birds native to Ohio.
The grizzly bear exhibit will also allow visitors to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how zoo workers interact with the animals.
The new area is being built on the hillside of the zoo near the Conservation Carousel on one end and the Farmland Exhibit on the other.
Several older exhibits had to be removed to make way for construction, including an exhibit built in 1918 that housed Alaskan brown bears and Russian brown bears, even before the zoo was built in 1953. The exhibit has been empty for about 10 years.
Monkey Island, built in 1960, also was removed, along with two waterfowl ponds, two tortoise exhibits and the river otter exhibit.
Winter hours at the zoo are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $6. Children under 2 are free. Parking costs $2.
For more information, visit www.akronzoo.org or call 330-375-2550.