The Phoenix Zoo, located in Papago Park, is the largest non-profit privately owned zoo in the United States. It is pretty amazing that no government tax dollars are going to this zoo considering that it operates on 125 acres and has more than 1,300 animals on display. Within those 125 acres are 2.5 miles of hiking trails that lead to and through their four main theme areas. These areas are home to animals from the American Southwest, Africa, rainforests and a petting zoo. There is a wonderful variety of animals so that everybody who visits should go home happy. This is why close to 1.5 million people visit the Phoenix Zoo annually.
What started out as a dream by Robert Maytag and opened in 1962 has turned into what some people would consider one of the top zoos in the United States. The Phoenix Zoo has had some ups and downs but lately it has been very successful adding several new exhibits over the last 20 years and is currently raising money to update the zoo’s infrastructure and some of its aging exhibits. The Phoenix Zoo should only get better as it ages.
While visiting the Phoenix zoo I became very impressed with a number of their exhibits. Even though it was designed and made in the 1980’s I thought their Savanna exhibit in their African Trail area was very impressive. I really enjoy it when zoos make multiple species habitats into one area instead of having their giraffes in one enclosure and their gazelles in another. They also had several exhibits that were very natural looking like their bighorn sheep area and the newly built Orang-Hutan: People of the Forest exhibit which is home to a group of orangutans. A real crowd pleaser and a very unique experience was an area called Monkey Village which allows visitors to walk inside on a pathway through the exhibit. It is all open and the squirrel monkey’s will be all around you. It is one of the best single animal exhibits that I have ever seen.
The Phoenix Zoo has all of the typical animals that you would expect from any large zoo from elephants to lions and tigers the Phoenix Zoo has it covered. What I like about the Phoenix Zoo is that they also have an area that is dedicated to animals that would live around the Phoenix area called Arizona Trails. I like it when zoos display animals from their region because it gives people a chance to see animals that they can go out and see not too far from their homes. I think anything that helps motivate people to get out and see the natural areas they live by is a good thing. Plus sometimes when you go out and look for those animals and cannot find them in nature you can always go back to the zoo to get some motivation to do it again.
Everybody from the young to the old will enjoy this zoo. For the young and the young at heart there is a petting zoo, playgrounds, a splash area during the summer months, a carousel, a train, and the chance to ride a camel and feed giraffes. The Phoenix Zoo was well designed because there are many mature trees to provide shady areas and misters throughout the zoo. I would try to go during the cooler months because there is plenty to see and you will want to take your time doing it, but if you are only in the Phoenix area during the summer take advantage of their early morning hours and bring cold water with you.
The Phoenix Zoo is one that is worth your time and money to go and see. There are lots of attractions and a large variety of animals set in natural habitats that make your visit one you can enjoy without feeling sorry for the animals. It is a large complex so start early if it is during the summer and bring comfortable shoes to walk around it because there is a lot of walking to do to see everything this zoo has to offer. Plus, every time you go, think of it as your way to contribute to a worthy cause as the Phoenix Zoo is highly focused on animal conservation efforts. For example they have a captive breeding program for Arabian Oryx which at one point were on the cusp of extinction and rescue and rehabilitation programs for animals like the California Condor. If you are ever in the Phoenix area and you like going to zoos then I highly recommend going to this zoo because you will not be disappointed.
Located at 455 N. Galvin Parkway
Hours of Operation – Summer Hours 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. September to November 2nd and January 9th to May 31st 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. November 2nd to January 8th 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Cost as of this Posting- Adults $20.00 Children Ages 3-12 $10.00
For more information visit their website at http://www.phoenixzoo.org/