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History of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

There are lots of options to stay near the zoo other than downtown hotels in Columbus. Looking for short-term housing in Columbus? Check us out!


Ohio Buckeye

Every city has exciting things to explore whether you’re in town for business or pleasure. Columbus is no exception. There are a variety of attractions to experience near downtown hotels in Columbus. From museums to history and more, downtown has a wealth of entertainment and culture. But one of the most popular attractions in the greater Columbus area is the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Opening in 1927, the original zoo was known as Columbus Zoological Gardens. Management of the zoo was taken over by the city in 1951 but in 1970 gave up ownership to the Zoological Park Association, Inc. In 1978, Jack Hanna became director of the zoo and put it into the national spotlight through appearances on Good Morning America and David Letterman’s show. Hanna’s dedication to the renovation of the zoo, combined with his national recognition from television, attracted more visitors each year.

Named the number one zoo in the United States, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to more than 7,000 animals representing over 800 species. The zoo is divided into regions representing different habitats of the world. Its North America section is the oldest and second-largest in the country and features 15 large exhibits including a wetlands area and a migratory songbird aviary containing over 40 species.

The zoo is also home to a gorilla breeding program that birthed the world’s first captive-born gorilla, Colo. In 1956, the western lowland gorilla was born and lived until early 2017 – dying at the age of 60. At the time of her death, Colo was the oldest gorilla in human care. Six of the Columbus Zoo’s 15 gorillas are related to Colo while the rest of her descendants live at zoos throughout the country.  

Today, the facility not only offers an expansive zoo and aquarium, it’s home to Zoombezi Bay – a waterpark expansion opened in 2008. Featuring 22.7 acres of waterpark fun, this attraction is seasonal but well worth the visit.

Whether you’re here on holiday or trying to find some time to unwind after an intense period of client interaction, exploring the historic Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a perfect diversion. Get out of downtown hotels in Columbus, or wherever you’re staying, and experience the culture of this beautiful city!