Reid Park Zoo

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Reid Park Zoo
Date opened 1965
Location Tucson, Arizona, USA
Coordinates 32°12′29″N 110°55′12″W / 32.208°N 110.920°W / 32.208; -110.920Coordinates: 32°12′29″N 110°55′12″W / 32.208°N 110.920°W / 32.208; -110.920
Land area 17 acres (6.9 ha)
Number of animals 500+
Memberships AZA[1]

The Reid Park Zoo, founded in 1967, is a 17-acre (6.9 ha) city-owned and operated non-profit zoo in Tucson, Arizona. The zoo features more than 500 animals. It was unofficially established in 1965 by Gene Reid, the parks and recreation director at the time.[2]


Giant anteaters playing at Reid Park Zoo

Reid Park Zoo consists of four zones that are organized by the types of habitats and animals they house. The Adaptation Zone houses animals such as the polar bear and Aldabra giant tortoise, the South American Animals zone houses animals such as the jaguar and spectacled bear, the Asian Animals zone features animals such as the tiger and Malayan sun bear, and the African Animals zone features animals such as the lion and giraffe.[3] A large aviary named "Flight Connection" hosts dozens of species of birds from Australia, Africa, and Asia.


In 1965 Gene Reid, then Parks and Recreation Director started exhibits of pheasants and guinea fowl just north of the present zoo site. Later, prairie dogs were acquired from Lubbock, Texas and exhibited in "Prairie Dog Town" in the former 'overlook' at Randolph Park. Later in the year, farm animals were added as well as squirrel monkeys. This collection became known as "Randolph Park Children's Petting Zoo". Towards the end of the year, the first real "exotic" animal was acquired with the purchase of Sabu, a two year Asian elephant.

1966-1970: Additions of more zoo animals were made during this time including an alligator, a camel, primates, tapir, leopard and bear. These additions changed the zoo from a petting zoo to a contemporary style zoological park. It changed its name to 'Randolph Park Zoo'. The area also expanded slightly in size. In 1967 the City of Tucson officially made the zoo a part of city operations.


  • The elephant exhibit was built.

On July 20, 2006, Reid Park Zoo announced that they would expanding to construct a larger Elephant habitat. The zoo obtained an additional 7 acres (28,000 m2) from its host, Reid Park. The new expansion was completed in March 2012, and Reid Park Zoo sent their two elephants, Connie and Shaba, an Asian and African elephant who had been together for years, to the San Diego Zoo. For the expansion, the San Diego Zoo sent a bull elephant, two cows and two baby bull elephants to Reid Park Zoo for their new habitat. The new exhibit, named Expedition Tanzania, opened to the Reid Park Zoo members March 25, and opened to the public March 28.[4] In mid-September, the zoo began construction on a US$4 million Conservation Learning Center that replaced the old education center. The zoo's new Center was eligible for and received a "platinum" certification from the United States Green Building Council.[5]

Medical facilities[edit]

Reid Park Zoo has the unique ability to treat animals with cancer using radiation therapy and heat therapy. Through a partnership with the University of Arizona Cancer Center, radiation oncologists can treat animals, such as a Galapagos Tortoise in 1983, that are transported to the zoo from all over the country.[6]

Effects of activism[edit]

Early in 2006, a group of local activists named "Save Tucson Elephants" lobbied the city to move Reid Park Zoo's two elephants, Connie and Shaba, to a sanctuary in Tennessee. However, the city council decided instead to raise funds to build a new elephant enclosure. The council was influenced by public petitions to keep the elephants in Tucson.[7]


  1. ^ "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Reid Park Zoo. "Who We Are". Archived from the original on 2006-06-19. Retrieved 2006-08-15. 
  3. ^ Reid Park Zoo. "Animals". Archived from the original on 2006-06-19. Retrieved 2006-08-15. 
  4. ^ Ryan O'Donnell. "Reid Park Zoo: escape to an oasis in the desert". Retrieved 2006-08-15. [dead link]
  5. ^ Danielle Sottosanti. "Zoo project a model of conservation". Retrieved 2006-08-15. 
  6. ^ Arthur H. Rotstein (1983-06-23). "Tortoise Gets Cancer Treatment At 'Galapagos Hilton'". Associated Press. 
  7. ^ "Tucson officials want elephants to stay despite opposition". Associated Press. 2006-04-07. 

External links[edit]