About the Zoo
Reid Park Zoo (http://reidparkzoo.org/) is city-owned and expands 24 acres in Tucson, Arizona between Broadway and 22nd Street. Founded in 1965 by Gene Reid, it originally housed small collection of farm animals, birds, and squirrel monkeys. It is now home to hundreds of animals in exhibits that closely mirror their natural habitats. The exhibits are sectioned as: South America, African, Tanzania, and Adaption. As a non-profit organization, the zoo is largely funded by tax dollars and a zoological society. It is operated through the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department; the department is responsible for maintenance and administration. The zoo hopes to deliver conservation and habitat protection messages throughout the park and online. Currently, a lot of the infrastructure within the zoo, such as the observation areas, chairs and park benches are donations made by the local Tucson community for the betterment of the Zoo.
Accredited by the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums), the zoo strives to “encourage commitment to the conservation of biological diversity and to provide educational and fun experiences for visitors of all ages.”1 As part of this mission, a rigorous accreditation process is undergone every five years. Animal care, veterinary program, conservation, education, safety standards should be met. More than half a million visitors are drawn to the experience.
General Admission is:
- $10.50 adults ages 15-61
- $8.50 seniors ages 62+
- $6.50 children ages 2-14; FREE for children under 2 years
During their operation hours of:
- June – September, 8am – 3pm
- October – May, 9am – 4pm
The best times of day to attend the zoo are after opening and before closing. Animals tend to be most active during this time. The average length of stay is 2 hours to see all the animals the zoo has to offer.
There are also group rates and special occasion event packages including the Zoo Adventure Program, Behind-the-Scenes, and Zookeeper in Training tours. To learn more about the animals at the zoo, explore this online photo safari.
To find out more about specialty visits, view them on the Reid Park Zoo Website here: http://reidparkzoo.org/education/programs-for-groups/
History behind the Zoo Mascot
Anteaters are the symbol of the Reid Park Zoo because this zoo is specially certified to breed these animals for other zoos.Reid Park Zoo introduced a pair of giant anteaters to Tucson in 1968. Those anteaters greatly changed the scenery - birds, prairie dogs, farm animals, and squirrel monkeys- at the time. 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the giant anteater presence there. Many zoos have a specific animal as their mascot which they are trained and certified to handle and breed.
Key Accomplishments of the Zoo
“Save Tucson Elephants”
Tucson Zoological Society announced plans to expand the zoo over in 2006. This was in part because a local activist group named “Save Tucson Elephants” lobbied for the city to remove the two elephants the zoo had housed at the time due to inappropriate space for the elephants in the zoo. The group hoped the city would move the elephants, Connie and Shaba, to Tennessee where they would stay in The Elephant Sanctuary (http://www.elephants.com/index.php). The city instead took their concerns into consideration and raised $10 million in fundraising and private donations to build a new elephant enclosure.
This expansion included a 10,000 square foot building which is named the Lee H. Brown Family Conservation Center as well as creating a new elephant habitat which now is home to six elephants. This building which opened in 2008 is home to smaller reptiles of the zoo as well as staff who educate over 50,000 visitors each year.
Reid Park Zoo has the unique ability to treat animals with cancer using radiation therapy and heat therapy Through a partnership with the University of Arizona Cancer Center, radiation oncologists can treat animals, such as a Galapagos Tortoise in 1983, that are transported to the zoo from all over the country.
Popular Zoo Animals and Activities
A female African elephant calf was born in August, the first to be born in the State of Arizona. The elephants are a popular at the zoo because of baby Nandi. There are 6 elephants at the zoo ranging from age 2 to 45.
Zoo visitors are allowed to feed the Giraffes during specific feeding times for $2 a person. There are platforms within the Giraffe exhibit for optimal photo opportunities. Carrots are typically fed to the giraffe but watch out for their 18-20 inch tongues.
Lee H. Brown Conservation Learning Center
Here guests can take a break from the heat and experience an indoor exhibit housing reptiles and other small animals of the zoo. There are demonstrations with the animals where visitors can have hands on experience petting some of the smaller animals of the zoo. These experiences are generally targeted towards the younger members of the audience encouraging them to learn about the animals through kinesthetic and visual channels.
Conservation is much of what they live by, learn, and teach at Reid Park Zoo. Green ideas were implemented into the design, development, and construction of the center.The zoo is largely run off solar power to protect the environment. Other “green” initiatives that run through the zoo are efficient heating and cooling systems, recycling stations around the park, the use of water harvesting and grew water capture to reuse water throughout the park, and the use of non-toxic paint around the facilities and in enclosures. To follow that Reid Park Zoo is considered to be LEED Platinum Certified and was the first building to receive this certification in all of Southern Arizona. The restaurants around the park take pride in using ecofriendly plates, utensils, and cups to ensure the protection of the park and the environment. The animals are treated with the best care to conserve their lives and health while living inside the zoo. A large part of that is insuring the health and growth of both grown and baby animals, which come to or are born into the zoo.Add a caption
By visiting the Reid Park Zoo you are immersed in an educational experience by learning about 33 different species of animals, how to take care of animals, and elements in the zoo. The zoo offers a variety of classes and summer camps for children to learn at an early age about exotic animals and how to take care of them. The zoo also partners with other organizations such as the 96 Elephant Campaign which is an organization to teach and inform the public that 96 elephants are poached and killed for their ivory everyday in the wild. The zoo offers camps for children, individual educational sessions, group sessions, and opportunities for teachers to learn at the zoo and further educate their students.
The University of Arizona offers a popular educational experience through their partnership with the zoo park. Viable college students can benefit from these internships that are offered in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. For one semester, interns work closely with zoo keepers to earn college credits. For more information, please visit - https://www.cals.arizona.edu/internships/reid-park-zoo. Another fun, educational experience includes zoo cameras. The camera experience is accessible at http://reidparkzoo.org/cameras/elephant-cam/ from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Active elephants, flamingos, giraffes, grizzlies, lemurs, and lions can be seen virtually.
Animals at the Zoo
The Reid Park Zoo is home to over 33 different species of exotic animals that require individual and unique care. The zoo is home to meerkats, elephants, giraffes, hippos, camels, grizzly bears, lions, zebras, jaguars, tigers, monkeys, and a variety of amphibians and birds. A recent contribution the zoo was baby elephant Nandi. Nandi was born on April 20, 2014 and she was the first elephant to ever be born in the state of Arizona. She is the daughter of Mabu and Semba. Mabu is a mature male and Semba is the female. They have two other sons, Punga and Sundzu.
The current health center at Reid Park Zoo is over 40 years old and according to veterinarians at the park it lacks sufficient space to treat their animals and growing animal population. A large donation from the Zoological society set in motion the building of their new health center. The $4 million dollar project has already broken ground and is expected to take 11 months to complete. The new 9,000-square-foot health center will have a full surgical unit, intensive care units for the different sized animals of the zoo, as well as updated technologies, holding areas for sick animals, and treatment facilities that will give the veterinarians sufficient space to work on the different sized animals. On top of being a state of the art facility and growing to accommodate the growing zoo population the new health center will also be designed to teach students from the University of Arizona. The future doctorate of veterinary medicine program is coming to the University and students enrolled in the program will have the opportunity to work with veterinarians from the zoo and in the new health center. Part of the new project will include on call rooms for students to spend the night on site and be there for anything that may happen over the night shift. On top of getting exposure to exotic animals early on in their education they will also learn to care for zoo facilities, staff, and visitors to the zoo. This program is one of its kind and is a new opportunity for both the zoo and the University to grow and expand.
Visiting Reid Park Zoo
Reid Park Zoo is open seven days a week and is open all year except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. In October-May the zoo will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and in June-September 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Admission into the park is $10.50 for adults ages ranging from 15-61, $8.50 for seniors who are 62 and older, children ages 2-14 will cost $6.50, and zoo admission is free for children under the age of one. Zoo admission gets you into the park but there are other activities while inside the park that might cost a little bit extra. There is an opportunity for a Giraffe encounter where visitors can meet and feed the animals for $3 a person. Camel rides will cost $7 a person. Each ride on the zoo train will be $3 a person. The wildlife carousel will cost $3 a person extra. There is a lot of parking surrounding the zoo and parking is free. There are four membership options for people looking to visit the zoo as a regular. There is an individual pass for $37, Senior pass for $27, Family pass which features two adults and children under 18 for $80, Gold member pass which features two adults, children under 18, and four guest passes for $130. Donation to the zoo and zoological society can be made on the Reid Park Zoo website.
More information about The Reid Park Zoo can be found at the Zoo’s website, http://reidparkzoo.org/ and at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reid_Park_Zoo. This Wikipedia site is regularly maintained by the Reid Park Zoo.
Future of the Zoo:
The Zoo has introduced propositions 202 and 203, which are targeted towards bringing new animals and habitats to expand the Zoo. The plans also include a plan for repairing and replacing the aging infrastructure of the Zoo. The 10 year ‘Master Plan’ includes new wildlife experiences such as the “African Wetlands Habitat’, Temple of Tiny Monkeys’, and more.
Currently, there are three phases. Phase 1 intends to feature themed ancient Asian temple ruins. Its projected completion year is 2022. Visitors will get a first hand look at lorikeets, Malaysian tigers, and siamangs. In a new reptile house, one would see a Komodo dragon. Kids, especially, will enjoy the treetop play area near the Conservation Learning Center. Phase 2 intends to feature a homage of Africa. During a feeding experience, visitors will closely view lions, elephants, and rhinos. Kids will have access to another play area with tunnels and pop-up viewing spots. Meerkats are likely to give an appearance. An iconic village of round African homes are to be a homage to Africa. Phase 3 is an expansion and renovation of the South American habitat, including the Temple of Tiny Monkeys. The expansion will include the Andean bear habitat and gift shop. A Mayan temple and another playground will be built. The playground will have small animal habitats throughout the adventure.