COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The Columbus Zoo is set to open its new "Heart of Africa" exhibit on Thursday.

"We wanted to replicate a region of the world, not just one animal," said CEO and President Tom Stalf.

When you walk in you get the feel of being in an African village. There are camel rides, stores to purchase food and souvenirs. You'll also get a chance to walk inside a plane that's positioned next to the lions.

The middle of the exhibit features a large water hole.

"You can walk by the watering hole at 10 o'clock in the morning and you might see zebras and ostrich or you might see warthogs or you might see lesser flamingos or aardvark and then later on in the day you might see a cheetah run," said the zoo's Suzi Rapp.

You get the feel of looking out over an African plain. Fencing is hidden from view in valleys.

Adam Felts, the assistant curator for the exhibit, expects thousands of people in the first few days and is interested to see how the animals react.

"We haven't had those kind of crowds yet so it will be interesting to see how they react to it," said Felts.

The exhibit also allows people to feed the giraffes several times a day.

TV-star Betty White will join Jack Hanna for the official ribbon cutting Thursday morning.

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