Cleveland Metroparks: Celebration of Discovery

Cleveland Metroparks: Celebration of Discovery explores just some of the remarkable features of this 100-year-old park system.

Dubbed the Emerald Necklace, the Metroparks system encompasses 23,000 acres where visitors can explore Northeast Ohio’s most beautiful natural land features, waterscapes, golf courses and trails, as well as a world-class zoo. It’s a place for all ages to learn about nature, from plants and trees to butterflies, birds and wildlife.

The program goes behind the scenes to explore and discover some of the natural wonders of the Cleveland Metroparks, including:

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Zoo to the Rescue

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has more than 2,000 animals representing over 400 species. However, most visitors don’t realize there’s a lot going on here to keep animals happy and thriving. Behind the carefully landscaped savannahs, lush rain forests and exhibit areas, knowledgeable researchers and keepers at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo are making discoveries about its animals that often contribute to the survival of other wild animals around the globe. From partnerships with international animal agencies, to its pioneering work with Silverback gorillas, success with giraffe births and conservation efforts on behalf of endangered turtles, birds and other creatures, this zoo is respected around the world. It has come a long way from its founding as Wade Park, an area of fenced-in land for protecting white-tailed deer!  This segment introduces some of the zoo’s staff who share a variety of amazing facts they’ve learned about the animals in their care.

Nature's Classroom

Some research shows that kids who are immersed in nature learn and develop better than those who don’t interact with the natural world. Cleveland Metroparks is devoted to helping children discover the “oooh!” not the “eeew!” in nature by turning the great outdoors into the greatest classroom of all.  Park educators provide young children with hands-on interactions with bugs, plants and animals: taking kids outside and bringing nature inside the classroom, too. With engaging names like Sprouts, Polliwog Preschool, Toddler Trek and Nature Baby, Cleveland Metroparks has a learning experience for every age.

Citizen Scientists

At West Creek Reservation in Cleveland Metroparks, it takes lots of eyes, ears, and feet on the ground (and in the water!) to monitor the health of this 375 acre reservation of open space. Enter, the Citizen Scientist: everyday people who give of their time and love of nature to gather vital data for the parks system. Whether they’re listening for specific types of frog-calls, counting aquatic organisms in streams and waterways, or pouring over thousands of camera images to spot screech owls and hummingbirds, these folks are a vital part of helping park staff keep track of critical indicators of ecological well-being! Viewers meet some of these colorful volunteers, see them in action and hear their unique reasons for becoming a Cleveland Metroparks Citizen Scientist!

Coexisting with Wildlife

As a truly “urban” park, Cleveland Metroparks must balance human and animal interactions, especially where parkland comes up against residential living space. This means finding ways to alleviate human/animal conflicts and harmful practices, including improper feeding of birds and wildlife. Park staff want to be sure wild animals stay as wild and healthy as possible, so they’re helping people learn what they should and shouldn’t do for these creatures. Rare nighttime footage and enlightening scenes with raccoons, possums, deer, foxes and coyotes, coupled with park experts’ commentary, help illustrate how best to coexist with these wild neighbors. In particular, park staff share advice on proper wild bird feeder hygiene and how to deer-proof a backyard garden.

Wings Over the Metroparks

In the shadow of downtown Cleveland, in a surprising little area of wild parkland on the shore of Lake Erie, a group of binocular-toting enthusiasts gather in the morning. They’re awaiting the arrival of Jen Brumfield, Cleveland Metroparks’ colorful birding expert who can identify rare birds from a peep of sound or flash of color. On this day, Jen and her birders find a host of rare birds and beautiful water and shorebirds. They also catch the annual migration of Monarch butterflies flapping their way from Canada, across Lake Erie, resting briefly here before moving on to Mexico! This segment shows how these little lakefront park refuges in the Cleveland Metroparks system are a vital link to the survival of endangered butterflies and birds.

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