The Reid Park Zoo's mission is "to create inspiring memories for all by connecting people and animals to ensure the protection of wild animals and wild places."
Location: 3400 Zoo Court Tucson, Arizona 85716.
About the Zoo
The Reid Park Zoo (http://reidparkzoo.org/) was founded in 1965 by Gene Reid who was then apart of the Arizona Parks and Recreation Department. The zoo has expanded to a 24-acre campus that houses hundreds of animals in naturalistic exhibits and hosts over 500,000 visitors every year. It takes around 2 hours to see all of the animals in their exhibits. The Zoo is home to many different animals ranging from different types of birds to large mammals like Elephants. The zoo is split up into four zones including naturalistic habitats of Asian, African, and South American animals with an additional Adaptation zone. The zoo also has their own Reid Park Zoological Society, which was founded in 1975, and the Reid Park Zoo Foundation. A fun thing that the zoo does is they have their own Flickr group where visitors can upload pictures https://www.flickr.com/groups/reid-park-zoo/
Reid Park Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). To be accredited, zoos must undergo a through investigation to ensure that they have met, and will continue to meet, ever-rising standards. These standards encompass animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years.
History of the Reid Park Zoo
The Zoo was unofficially established in 1965 by Gene Reid, the parks and recreation director at that time, with some exhibits of pheasants, peafowl, and guinea fowl just north of the present zoo site. One year later, prairie dogs from Lubbock, Texas, were exhibited in "Prairie Dog Town" in the former "overlook at Randolph Park. A 1.5-acre "collection of animals" become known as the "Randolph Park Children's Zoo". The year 1967 and 1968 were important that the first budget of $49,000 presented to and approved by Tucson City Council, effectively opening the Zoo and making it part of city operations. With support from the city, the Zoo welcomed more animals to come. In this period, the Zoo's name was changed to Randolph Park Zoo.
In 1972, admission fees were instituted. J.L. Swigert became the zoo's first professional administrator. The Zoo was admitted to the American Association of Zoos & Aquariums. By getting more supports and helps, many more animal exhibits were built. In 1975, a combination entrance and gift shop was constructed on the south border of the Zoo. One year after, friends of Gene Reid became Friends of Randolph Zoo Society (The Zoological Society was founded in 1975 and officially incorporated in 1976). After the established of the Society, the African Veldt exhibit was built and the first and second classes of volunteers were organized and trained. In the year of 1978, the Asian Grasslands exhibit was constructed and opened. The Zoo's size expanded to 15 acres with the purchase of 2 acres on the east side. There was one very important thing happened this year! The Zoo's name was changed to Reid Park Zoo which we heard nowadays! Moreover, Friends of Randolph Zoo Society, Inc. was incorporated as the Tucson Zoological Society. The next year, the health center and administration offices were constructed and opened.
In 1981, an entrance, gift shop, and snack bar were constructed at the north end of the Zoo. In the meanwhile, the Zoo's size increased to 17 acres with the acquisition of more land. One year later, the current snack bar was built and became operational and the former entrance and gift shop building on the south side of the Zoo was remodeled into the Zoo school and docent headquarters. In the following years, the Zoo kept constructing more exhibits (lion, tiger, lion-tailed macaque, giraffe). In 1990, the first executive director for the Tucson Zoological Society was hired in August. Two years later, the former Asian Grassland area was converted into the new African Savanna, and new African species were introduced. Then the first "Festival of Lights" event was held. Just the next year, the first "ZOOcson" fundraiser event was held. During the year of 1994 to 2000, alligator exhibit was remodeling, the first "Howl-o-ween" event was held, the South America exhibit was completed, the Flight Connection Aviary opened, the lion-tail macaque exhibit was remodeled, and more administrator or education curator became a part of the Zoo family. In 2003, the polar bear exhibit was expanded to include a natural substrate yard and a new front gate project was completed. Three years later, the giraffe feeding platform is completed (The giraffe feeding platform makes the "Giraffe Encounter" event becomes one of the most popular activities in the Zoo). In the year of 2008, Lee H. Brown Family Conservation Learning Center was completed. Next year, the Zoofari Cafe was remodeled and includes indoor seating for the first time. In 2010, the gift shop is remodeled. In the same year, groundbreaking for the expedition Tanzania expansion took place. Due to the expedition Tanzania, the new elephant exhibit opened and the Education Department adds four new staff members in 2012. One year after, the polar bear and mandrill exhibits are remodeled to house brown bears and black-and-white lemurs respectively. In the year of 2014, a female African elephant calf was born in August, the first ever born in the State of Arizona!
In November 2017, the Zoo did a election and decided to do a 10-year master plan that will mean bigger spaces and great experiences that make for smiling faces. The Zoo plans to expand into Asia, Africa, and South American habitats. The most recently expected completion is just three year after 2019! With more help and supports, the Reid Park Zoo is over 50 years old! The Zoo started with only few animal exhibits to more than hundreds animals nowadays. In the future, the Zoo will expand bigger and become a home for more and more animals!
The mission for all the Zoo Foundation, Zoological society, and the Zoo itself is "to create inspiring memories for all by connecting people and animals to ensure the protection of wild animals and wild places."
Key Contribution of the Zoo in Tucson Society
"Save Tucson Elephants"
In 2006, the Tucson City Council voted to approve a millions dollar plan to expand the habitat of the elephants at Reid Park Zoo. This project would give two elephants, Connie and Shaba, an extra seven acres of space in their enclosure. However, a local group in Tucson called " Save Tucson Elephants" argues the animals need hundreds more acres to survive. The group points to the health problem of the elephants and wants Connie and Shaba to be relocated to an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee where the elephants would have hundreds of acres to run. The Tucson Zoological Society defends the zoo's care of two elephants, and take issue with claims of the elephants' poor health. The executive director of the Tucson Zoological Society at that time said that the two elephants don't need to be separated or shipped. In the following year, the expansion of the elephant enclosure at the Reid Park Zoo is founded by a combination of Tucson Zoological Society fundraisers, a moderate increase in zoo entrance fees, and a possible bond measure down the road.
"Health Science Center"
The Reid Park Zoological Society and the University of Arizona are partnering in building a new teaching and research facility at the Zoo. The University of Arizona is providing $350,000 in support of the Reid Park Zoo and the new $3.85 million expansions to the Animal Health Center. The expansion includes more rooms and better equipment to care for the zoo animals. Besides, the University of Arizona has been trying to open a veterinary school, in this case, the students at the University will be benefit as well. According to the Zoo, the main expansions to the new, 9,000-square-foot Animal Health Center include a full surgical suite, ICU units suitable for animals of all sizes, diagnostic devices providing immediate results of blood work and ultrasound testing, holing areas with controlled air circulation to ensure animals are effectively quarantined, state-of-the-art treatment facilities allowing our skilled vest staff to give every animal the best care possible (http://reidparkzoo.org/).
Visiting the Zoo
- October – May: 9:00am – 4:00pm
- June – September: 8:00am – 3:00pm
- Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
- $10.50 adults ages 15-61
- $8.50 seniors ages 62+
- $6.50 children ages 2-14; FREE for children ages 0-1
- Group Discounts are available to families and individuals in the SNAP and WIC programs
When you become a Zoo Member, you receive free daytime admission, discounts on special events and education programs, and so much more! Click this link for more information: https://reidparkzoo.org/membership/benefits/
- Individual (1 named adult 18-61) - $37
- Senior (1 named adult 62+) - $27
- Family (2 named adults + 4 children under 18) - $80
- Gold (2 named adults + up to 4 children under age 18 + 4 flexible guest passes) - $130
Popular Zoo Animals
The giant anteaters are the logo of the Reid Park Zoo! This is because the Zoo has a successful breeding program with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan (SSP) for giant anteaters, and the Zoo has had anteaters for over 50 years! Come and visit the anteater! Giant anteaters are the largest species of anteater which are distinguished by their long nose that is comprised of fused upper and lower jaw bones. They also have an impressively long tongue which can reach up to 24 inches (50 cm) in length.
African Elephants are the largest living terrestrial mammals. As a part of the elephant species survival plan (SSP), the Reid Park Zoo have the first elephant born here in Arizona. The Zoo also contribute to reduce elephants and humans conflict. Mabu, Semba, Lungile, Sundzu, and Nandi are the playful elephants who live in a large exhibit at the Reid Park Zoo. Before get into the Zoo, remember to check the event board in the front plaza to get a chance to catch a session with an Elephant Keeper at the training wall in the pavilion of the Jim Click Elephant Care Center.
The tallest land animals-giraffes located at the Reid Park Zoo are the reticulated subspecies which are predominantly found in Kenya, and are distinguished by their large, chestnut colored patches outlined by thin white lines. They are fed a variety of tree leaves, hay, lettuce, carrots, scallions, and popsicle treats. If you are interested in taking a closer look at the giraffes or you want to have interactions with them, visit the Giraffe Encounter here in the Reid Park Zoo!
Grizzly bears are a subspecies, or type, of brown bear and get their name from the white and tan tips on their brown fur that make them look "grizzled". There is a special story behind the grizzly bear in the Reid Park Zoo. The bears at the Zoo came because their mother was teaching them to rely on sources of food too close to humans. From the story, we can protect all bear species by not feeding them or leaving food out that is easily found by bears. You think you are helping the bears, but actually, you are pushing them to rely on people for food.
One of the most favorite parts for the visitors at the zoo is being able to feed the giraffes! This unique experience only cost $3 a person and children must be accompanied by an adult. You can buy tickets or a multi-use pass at the admission gate, or pay at the Giraffe Encounter platform. Cash, check, or credit cards are accepted at both locations. October 1- May 31: Mon.-Fri. 10:00-10:45am. Weekends 10:00-10:45 and 1:30-2:00 p.m. June 1- September 30: Mon.-Fri. 9:30-10:15. Weekends 9:30-10:15 and 11:30-12:00
Located outside the front gates, the Zoo train travels around the Park lake, or you can ask to go to the Reid Park Garden. You can buy ticket for a multi-use pass at the admission gate with cash, check or a credit card or purchase a ticket with the train conductor (cash only). Tickets are $3 per guest. October-May: Mon.-Sun. 9:00am - 4:00pm. June - September: Mon.- Sun. 8:00am-3:00pm .
Cox Wildlife Carousel
Located in the Zoo's front plaza, visitors are able to take a ride on 30 different animal species from around the world. You can buy tickets or a multi-use pass with cash, check or credit cards at the admissions gate, or pay at the carousel entrance. It is $3 per guest and kids under 42 inches must have an adult with them on the carousel. October-May: Mon.-Sun. 9:00am-4:00pm. June - September: Mon.-Sun. 8:00am- 4:00pm
- Elephant Experience - For 60 minutes visitors are able to tour the elephant bar, meet the elephant care staff and help them hide treats for the elephant
- Close Encounter Experience - For 60 minutes visitors are able to visit the anteater, rhino and giraffe habitats up closer than a normal zoo visit
- Animal Health Care and Nutrition Behind the Scenes Experience - For 60 minutes visitors are able to visit the Animal Health Center, Zoo kitchen, and rhino habitat
The Zoo in the Future
The Zoo is planning to expand the area in the future! The 10-year master plan will mean bigger spaces and great experiences for the coming visitors! There are three phases to complete the expansion in three different area-Asia exhibits, Africa exhibits, and South America exhibits. The phase one to expand the Asia exhibits is expected to complete in 2022 which just three years after 2019!
Phase one-the Asia Exhibits
After the completion of this phase, visitors can get up close to lorikeets, Malaysian tigers and the brilliant colors of the region's birds. Moreover, underwater views will be build to see playful otters, and a new reptile house for Komodo dragon and also large fruit bats. Besides, the Conservation Learning Center will have a new themed room for birthday celebrations with treetop play area near the center. What is more, the beautiful flamingos are planned to move to the Zoo Welcome Plaza to say greetings to all the visitors.
Phase two-Africa Exhibits
In phase two, most Africa animals can be seen all in one place, for example, lions, elephants, and a close up look at rhinos. Kids in this phase will have another new area with tunnels and pop-up viewing spots to get close to the perky meerkats. Before get into the Africa area, a village of iconic round African homes will head you to the beautiful new lodge with balconies on three sides and seating for 400. These will be in the new habitat in Africa area.
Phase three-South America Exhibits
In the phase three expansion, the entry will be expanded to include a Mayan Temple and another playground for adventure with small animal habitats throughout. There are more rooms with additional windows and closer pathways to an expanded Andean bear habitat. There is more to mention, the gift shop is also planned to be expanded.
General Information : (520) 881-4753
Information on Visiting Zoo : (520) 791-3204
Front Gate or Lost & Found : (520) 791-4760
Information on Events, Rentals, Membership, and Donations : (520) 881-4753
Zoo Administration Office : (520) 791-3204