The Phoenix Zoo was founded in April 1961, by Robert Maytag, grandson to the founder of the Maytag appliance company. Passionate that Arizona was in need of a world-class Zoo, he partnered with friends and community members. The group became known as the Arizona Zoological Society, and, thanks to the persistence of his wife Nancy, persevered despite Maytag's unexpected death in 1962. The campaign achieved its goal to “Build a Zoo in '62!", with Nancy Maytag cutting the ribbon on the Maytag Zoo on November 21, 1962, named in honor of her late husband.
The next year, the name was officially changed to the Phoenix Zoo, in order to foster community connection. Financial struggles in the early years proved to be just a rocky start, with the organization in the black by 1965. With overwhelming support over the years through donations, patronage, and volunteerism, it is clear that the Phoenix Zoo has become an important part of the Arizona landscape.
The Zoo park is arranged in four primary areas, through which guests follow trails to view animal exhibits. With a diverse range of animals and ecosystems represented, visitors go on a veritable world tour during a day at the Zoo. Activities, shows, and events are available in each area to create a more enriching experience.
In addition to these four trails, the main entrance area to the park also has many engaging features. These include the Enchanted Forest play area, Endangered Species Carousel, and 4D theater. The Stingray Bay exhibit, bordering Arizona Trail is also in this central area of the park. Guests can also participate in Wild Walk, a fitness walking trail throughout the park designed to incorporate fitness into daily life
One of the largest areas of the park, Africa Trails is home to some of the Zoo's most recognizable animals. These include the African lion, African wild tortoise, white rhinoceros, Masai giraffe, Grevy's zebra and many more. Camel Rides and Giraffe Encounters are available in Africa Trail, providing up-close interactions and fantastic photo opportunities with these amazing animals. The 25 minute safari train takes visitors through a large portion of the Zoo's exhibits, and departs from Africa Trail. Animal encounters and the safari train are not included with admission; prices are available on the Zoo's website.
The Tropics Trail area of the Phoenix Zoo includes many fan favorites. Monkey Village includes many of the Zoo's primate species, including black howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys and more. At Monkey Village, guests actually walk through the enclosure as monkeys climb and scurry through the trees and is the only such exhibit of its kind in the United States. Many birds also make their home in Tropics Trail, such as Chilean Flamingos and Thick-Billed Parrots, to name a few. The Yakulla Caverns and Leapin' Lagoon play areas are located on opposite ends of the Tropics Trail area, providing cool places for kids and kids-at heart to splash, play and explore.
An homage to the hometown habitat, Arizona Trail is full of desert wonders, inviting visitors to explore and learn about the area around them. Animals in these exhibits include coyotes, vultures, mountain lions, Mexican grey wolves and more. These desert loving species are right at home at Arizona Trail. Near to the park entrance, this area of the park is close to dining, photo services and the Desert Marketplace gift shop.
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