The Phoenix Zoo is the largest privately owned zoo in the United States. Opening in 1962, the zoo has grown in size to over 125 acres (51ha) with over 3000 animals ranging across 400 species on display.
The zoo is divided into four themed areas – The Arizona Trail, The Africa Trail , The Tropics Trail and a children’s petting zoo. The areas are connected by over 2.5 miles (4km) of walking trails that weave between lakes and themed specific landscaping.
Restrooms, drinking fountains, restaurants and cafes are spread across the zoo with an ATM and gift-shop located in the main entry plaza. A endangered animal themed carousel is located just to the right of the main entry plaza.
A good zoo has to offer a different experience to a varied audience as well as be five star in animal welfare. For example, it has to cater for both the locals and tourists, with both groups looking for something a little different. Tourists want to see unique flora and fauna from that local area, however locals won’t pay the entry fee to see animals that they could see on the drive to the zoo or in their backyard for that matter. Most big zoos offer the big ticket animals such as Tigers, Lions, Giraffes, Elephants, Primates and Rhinos to draw in the locals, and then delve down to their local indigenous animals that bring in the out-of-state and international tourists. This is a pretty standard business model for most big zoos, as it also allows them to participate in the all-important international breeding programs as well as offer hospitals and rescue facilities for the local wildlife. This,is where the Phoenix Zoo is a really good example of a city zoo. Its local animal section, called Arizona Trail, is excellent and really does highlight the unique animals that call Arizona home. The zoo’s location is also a big plus – showing off the rugged landscape giving you a sense of location- something a lot of other big city zoos have not achieved. From the Mountain Goat exhibit as a natural way-finder, to the rocky cactus covered mounds in the distance, you will have no problems being reminded that you are slap bang in the middle of Arizona.
For me, Arizona Trail was the highlight of Phoenix Zoo. The natural enclosures and large selection of animals is worth the ticket price alone. From reptiles and birds to the more obvious inclusions like wolves, coyotes and mountain lions it is the perfect starting point to exploring the zoo.
This is a big zoo with so much to see as you walk along the well signed paths. Public art and animal information play a prominent part in your continuous discovery of the animal world.
When I visit zoos in North America or any other part of the word outside of Australia I look forward to also seeing the fun antics of the local squirrel population. Not at Phoenix Zoo however, the squirrels have made way for rabbits, the Desert Cottontail to be more exact, and they were everywhere! Video of rabbit in elephant enclosure
The Phoenix Zoo really is a great zoo, with so much to offer both tourists and locals alike. If you are coming from out of town don’t forget to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens and Hole in the Rock that are both located next to the zoo.
I loved this zoo and recommend that you visit when in Phoenix, even if just for the Arizona Trail section alone. I can imagine visiting this zoo in Summer would be unbearable but when we visited in March the weather was perfect. Phoenix should be very proud of this zoo and with that I will leave you with a short video of a Orangutan at Phoenix Zoo exercising with a blanket.
More Picture from Phoenix Zoo
Video files from Phoenix Zoo