POWELL, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is spending more than $50 million to expand and enhance the park throughout the next year, including a transformation of the zoo’s oldest region.

The Canada lynx is among zoo animals receiving a new habitat. (Courtesy Photo/Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)

The zoo is investing $32.5 million to redevelop the North America region, including new habitats for gray wolves, bald eagles, black bears, North American river otters and Canada lynxes. Groundbreaking is scheduled for this fall.

“These projects, along with other enhancements focused on animal wellbeing, are modernizing our nearly 100-year-old zoo, providing more security for our guests, and improving the lives of our animals,” said Tom Schmid, President and CEO of the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds.

Nearly $4 million is dedicated to an expansion of the zoo’s bonobo indoor and winter habitat, with construction projected to begin this spring. The zoo is also investing $8 million on animal well-being and habitat improvements, facility upgrades, new technology and enhanced security.

The zoo noted in Tuesday’s announcement construction is continuing on the $7 million RV campground at The Wilds. The 59-acre campground will include:

  • 46 spots for RVs
  • 27 primitive camping spots
  • Hiking and biking trails
  • A playground
  • A camp store
  • A dog park
  • Two shower houses

The campground is expected to be ready to welcome guests in early 2024.

The announcement follows the zoo losing its previous accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums – a nationally recognized “best practices” honor that the zoo held for more than 40 years. The zoo tried to appeal the decision, but it was denied by the AZA. It did, however, receive a new accreditation from a different organization.