5 Reasons to Visit the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter (Don’t Miss the Penguin Parade!)

The Cincinnati Zoo is a wonderful place to visit during the colder months.

I’m sharing reasons and incentives for you to visit the Cincinnati Zoo in the winter months during the non-peak season, mid-January through the beginning of March.

penguins at the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter
penguin parade at the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter

1. This is the Last Year for the Penguin Parade at the Cincinnati Zoo

This is the last year for the penguin parades, so don’t miss your last chance to see king penguins waddle through the Cincinnati Zoo! (The penguin flock is aging and ready to retire)

Watch the cuteness of lots of penguins in action as they waddle from their habitat at Children’s Zoo to the Wings of the World habitat.

penguin parade at the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter

Penguin parades are one of my favorite reasons to visit the Cincinnati Zoo in the winter.

The adorable animals step in line in perfect formation with their signature waddle that makes them the stars of the show.

penguin parade at the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter

After the penguins pass you by in the parade, you are allowed to slowly join in on their Penguin parade by walking behind them.

Where do the Penguin Parades Start and End at the Cincinnati Zoo?

The morning penguin parade starts at the Zoo’s Bird House at 11a.m. and ends at the king penguins’ outdoor home at the Children’s Zoo entrance.

At 2:30 pm the penguins leave the Children’s Zoo entrance and march back to the Bird House.

penguins at the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter

Observe the Penguins before the Parade

The Penguins have such unique personalities and they are so funny to watch as they interact with each other.

penguin at the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter

We were cracking up as we observed one of the penguins trying to take a power nap on a rock before it was time to join the others in its parade debut.

penguins at the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter

The king penguins (Stacey, Bebe, Martin Luther, Stephen, and Larry) can decide if they want to stay in their indoor habitat or join the parade.

penguins at the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter

I dare you not to smile during the Penguin Parade because it’s almost impossible between the adorable penguins…and the adorable kids who try to mimic the king penguins’ waddles as they pass by.

penguin parade at the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter

When Are the Penguin Parade Days at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens?

Penguin Parades are Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Holiday Mondays (Jan 15 MLK & Feb 19) starting in January through the end of February.

  • Fridays – Sundays & Holiday Mondays
  • First Penguin Parade of the season: Saturday, January 13th
  • Last Parade: Sunday, February 25th
  • Penguin Parade Times: 11:00 AM and 2:30 PM

*Penguin encounters take place on each non-holiday Monday at 11 a.m.

*The Penguin Parade presented by US Bank, only takes place when the weather temperatures are below 50 degrees for the penguins to walk.

(Special walks on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 15, 2023, & Presidents’ Day, Monday, February 19, 2024)

What Types of Penguins are at the Cincinnati Zoo?

  • Magellanic Penguin – (Wings of the World)
  • African Penguin – (African Penguin Point)
  • King Penguin – (Birds of the World)
  • Little Blue Penguin – (Roo Valley)
  • Southern Rockhopper Penguin – (Wings of the World)

Fun Facts:

  • The zoo named one of the little blue penguin chicks “Rose” after Betty White’s character on the television show “The Golden Girls.”
  • All of the Zoo’s king penguins are named after famous kings… (Martin Luther, Bibi, Burger, Larry, Stacey, and Stephen.)
  • The Cincinnati Zoo’s colony of little blue penguins is the largest in North America.
sign for the Cincinnati Zoo in the Winter

2. Deeply Discounted Admission for The Cincinnati Zoo During Penguin Days

You can take advantage of discounts for both adult and child admission with Penguin Days tickets which is an added incentive to visit during the cold weather (winter/ early spring cooler months.)

This is a great way for families and groups to experience a very affordable outing.

Purchase Discounted Tickets to the Cincinnati Zoo here

When are Penguin Days at the Cincinnati Zoo?

Penguin Days are from January 8, 2024- March 8, 2024.

Penguin Parade at the Cincinnati Zoo

Save Money on Cincinnati Zoo Admission During Penguin Days

If you are purchasing your tickets outside of penguin days you can find discounted tickets when you purchase from the Cincinnati Zoo online which will also reduce your time in line when you arrive.

Penguin Parade at the Cincinnati Zoo

Additional Ways to Save on Cincinnati Zoo Admission

*Military and First Responders get $5 off adult and child admission. A Valid military, fire, or police ID is required to obtain the discount and the tickets must be purchased in person.

*There are discounts available through local AAA only and the discount is not available at the Cincinnati Zoo ticketing window.

You can purchase discounted Cincinnati Zoo tickets online with Ares Travel here.

* Learn more about discounts for groups of 15 or more here. 

 Cincinnati Zoo

3. Take Advantage of Fewer Crowds at The Cincinnati Zoo

When you visit the Cincinnati Zoo during the winter months after the holidays, you will notice the lighter crowds than the Festival of Lights, especially the later it gets in the afternoon due to school letting out.

If you are concerned that your kids will get too cold, I suggest dressing them in snow pants and layered gear to help reduce complaints so that you can experience a longer stay.

polar bear at the Cincinnati Zoo

4. Observe the Zoo Animals Who Actually Enjoy Cold Weather

There are lots of animals at the zoo that actually LOVE cold weather and as a result, they can be more active than in the hotter months.

A few cold-weather animals to be on the lookout for are wolves, otters, red pandas, snow leopards, cougars, and arctic foxes.

*Unfortunately, the polar bear pictured above at the Cincinnati Zoo passed away in March of 2021.

manatee springs at the Cincinnati Zoo

5. See More Zoo Animals in their Indoor Exhibits

Warm up inside and view the animals in their indoor habitat with locations throughout the zoo at the World of Insects, Elephant House, Night Hunters, Dragons!, Wings of the World bird house, Gorilla World (indoor gorilla habitat viewing), and Manatee Springs.

Check the daily special animal encounter schedule online before your visit to learn more about how you can meet and possibly touch ambassador animals located throughout the zoo at various times.

Animal Encounter Schedule During Penguin Days

  • Otter Training and Chat – 10:30am | Saturdays and Sundays | Wolf Woods
  • Penguin Parade – 11:00am – Saturdays and Sundays | Birds of the World
  • Insect Encounter – 11:45am – Saturdays and Sundays | World of the Insect
  • Mexican Wolf Keeper Chat – 12:00pm | Holiday Mondays (Jan 15 & Feb 19) | Wolf Woods
  • Kea Encounter – 1:00-2:00pm | Saturdays and Sundays | Free Flight Aviary
  • Painted Dog Enrichment – 2:00pm | Sundays | Painted Dog Valley
manatee springs at the Cincinnati Zoo

Winter-Weather Animal Encounters at the Cincinnati Zoo

You can go behind the scenes with the following special animal encounters for an additional fee.

  • Owls and Friends
  • Behind the Bug
  • Van Goat
  • The Tremendous Tour-toise

More Information

You can find more information on the Cincinnati Zoo website. 

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