With a long history of community support and conservation leadership, the Phoenix Zoo is well-established in the zoological community. More than 1,400 animals inhabit the Phoenix Zoo, representing dozens of species, 30 of which are endangered or threatened. Covering 125 acres of land, the walking trails that guide visitors through the exhibits total more than two and a half miles. Over the years, the Zoo has delivered its mission of providing inspiring experiences that motivate people to care for the natural world to over 43 million people.

The Zoo's parent organization, The Arizona Center for Nature Conservation, is one of the largest private non-profit organizations in the country, and works to advance the stewardship and conservation of animals and their habitats. After more than half a century protecting animals and bringing their wonder to the public, the Phoenix Zoo is an Arizona institution.

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Phoenix Zoo History

Phoenix Zoo History

© Phoenix Zoo

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

Africa Trail

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.

Tropics Trail

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.

Arizona Trail

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.

Children's Trail

Children's Trail

© Phoenix Zoo

Children's Trail at the Phoenix Zoo includes many engaging and interactive activities for visitors. The Red Barn is home to the Zoo's petting zoo, where guests can pet and brush goats, or observe sheep, cows and horses up-close. Nearby is Harmony Farm, a re-creation of a real farm operation, with cows, chickens, turkeys, and sheep alongside farm equipment, including photo opportunities on real tractors. On the shores of Harmony Farm, guests can rent pedal boats, providing a relaxing way to view the Zoo from a different perspective. Other features of the Children's Trail include Windmill House and the Farmer's Market.

Events and Programs

The Phoenix Zoo regularly hosts a variety of events and programs to create an even livelier and enriching visit. Regular offerings include puppet shows and Animal Tales, a morning story time for preschool aged children. Periodic special or holiday events also help to create memorable visits. These happy happenings include 4th of Zoo-ly, Winter in July (with 50 Tons of snow!), Farm Days, Sunsets on the Serengeti, a Howl-o-Ween spectacular, and many more. Visitors are encouraged to review the Zoo's online calendar prior to visiting for the full diary of events.

In addition to these periodically pun-tastic events, the Phoenix Zoo also offers a variety of ongoing programs. Camp Zoo, available to kindergarten through eighth grade children, is a day camp offered during the summer for young animal enthusiasts hoping to learn more about the Zoo's inhabitants. Night Camp offers twilight camps that end at 10:15 pm, and overnight experiences, as well. These night time camp outs set up guests in Africa Trail tents, where they fall asleep to sounds of the desert night and wake up with the animals. The Zoo also offers specialized programming opportunities for those with special needs.


Every trip to the Zoo can be an educational adventure, but the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation doesn't stop there. A variety of outreach and education programs seek to further the organization's mission and bring animal knowledge to the community. Family education, usually delivered at the Zoo's education and event center, includes special programs targeted to different age groups from under 18 months to teenagers. These include Nature Explores, Wild Science Academy, and Zoo Teens. Horse Hands is a special program, targeting equine education.

From horseback riding to lessons on caregiving, this program, led by Certified Horsemanship Associated accredited instructors, is an educational, enriching and interactive experience. Horse Hands Programs are available for every age from three years old to adults. Other adult programs include a Master's Degree at the Phoenix Zoo. In this program, participants take online classes through a partner university, supplemented by in person classes at the Phoenix Zoo. The degree focuses on conservation, ecological stewardship and public engagement, using real world experience, as well as classroom learning, to bring the lessons to life. Some of the courses are even available for the enthusiast not looking to earn the degree. The Phoenix Zoo is also involved in educational outreach, bringing knowledge into the community. These include school presentations, distance learning and visits from the Zoomobile, the Zoo's on-the-go education center.

Phoenix Zoo Conservation

Phoenix Zoo Conservation

© Phoenix Zoo

Conservation had been and continues to be a major focus for the Phoenix Zoo, which is an accredited member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Local conservation efforts include specific programs for the black-footed ferret, desert pupfish, Mount Graham red squirrel, and narrow-headed garter snake, to name a few. Global conservation efforts change with each year's grant applications and annual focus, with the most recent work on the Grevy's zebra, the snow leopard and the Hutan hornbill conservation project.

The Arizona Center for Nature Conservation has been involved in 85 conservation projects in 30 countries since 2009. The Zoo also encourages visitors to support its conservation efforts through projects like ink cartridge and cell phone recycling onsite, in addition to its online conservation tips, helping everyone to lead a more conservation conscious life.

Plan Your Visit

In order to make the most of a trip to the Phoenix Zoo, visitors are recommended to review the Zoo's website prior to arrival. Information on the site includes exhibit closures, admission costs, event prices, discounts, events calendar, seasonal closures, and hours, which change according to the season. The Zoo is located approximately eight miles from downtown Phoenix and is easily accessible from via the bus or freeways, with parking onsite.

Restaurants and snacks are available throughout the park, and the Desert Marketplace shop offers one-of-a-kind gifts and souvenirs. The website also addresses Zoo policies, rules and recommendations under the heading Know Before You Go. Additionally, as the majority of the exhibits are outside, cooler weather months may be recommended for those sensitive to the extremes of Arizona summer heat. With abundant activities, animal interactions and enriching education, the Phoenix Zoo is a fun and enjoyable day for the whole family.

455 North Galvin Parkway Phoenix, AZ 85008, Phone: 602-286-3800, website, Map

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