The opening of the Perkins Wildlife Center and Woods Garden at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in University Circle is one of the most highly anticipated family events in Cleveland this Labor Day weekend. I was fortunate explore this urban oasis yesterday during the member preview week happening all this week at the museum, and I was completely blown away by the amazing design.
The Perkins Wildlife Center & Woods Garden is divided into five ecological communities pairing Ohio’s native plants and animals in each beautifully designed area. Each of the five sections transitions smoothly into the next as you stroll along the hilltop walkways. Thinc Design masterfully designed the center so it maximizes the 2 acre space in a truly unique and easily accessible way (you can easily navigate the entire wildlife center with a stroller).
The signage along the trail is visually appealing and incredibly informative. The signs are optimally placed at heights that are easy for both adults and children to read, without blocking views of the habitats. Although there are signs which provide lots of educational information about each species housed in the wildlife center, there are also signs about most of the individual animals that share each animal’s name and how he or she came to live at the Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden. Most of the animals who live here were either injured or orphaned and are now unable to survive in the wild.
It’s not just the animals living in the Perkins Center that have been rescued. Many of the plants throughout the woods garden were also rescued from developments and construction sites.
I loved that many of the exhibits had a small sign that further explained some of that animal’s unique features. Then alongside the sign there is a 3-dimensional model of that part of the animal. I felt this really helped to emphasize the unique characteristics of these animals and assisted in visualizing these features.
The animal habitats are well designed for the animals they house, and have enrichment activities to keep the animals entertained. Although I loved watching all of the Ohio animals, my absolute favorite were the…
otters!! I could have easily sat and watched the two resident otters frolic in and out of the water all afternoon. They really seemed to be enjoying their new home.
There are even a few places where children and adults can prefect their animal skills by practicing perching like a crow, climbing like a raccoon, or leaping like a bobcat.
The Perkins Wildlife Center is a fabulous addition to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History as it inspires its visitors to learn about and explore the natural diversity of Ohio.
Admission to the Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center and Woods Garden is included with museum admission. Free timed ticket reservations are required for the Perkins Center during Grand Opening Weekend September 3-5 and can be obtained through the museum’s website here.