Buttonwood Park Zoo

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Buttonwood Park Zoo
Entrance Buttonwood Park Zoo.JPG
The entrance to the Buttonwood Park Zoo
Date opened1894;[1] August 12, 2000 (renovated)
LocationNew Bedford, Massachusetts, United States
Coordinates41°37′48″N 70°57′10″W / 41.62996°N 70.95273°W / 41.62996; -70.95273Coordinates: 41°37′48″N 70°57′10″W / 41.62996°N 70.95273°W / 41.62996; -70.95273
No. of animals250+[2]
Annual visitors222,000[1]

The Buttonwood Park Zoo, located in New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States, is a seven-acre zoo located in the center of Buttonwood Park. It is owned and operated by the City of New Bedford, with the support of the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society.

The zoo opened in 1894 as a deer park and menagerie. In 1995 it was in deplorable condition and closed in 1998. It reopened in 2000 after major renovations.[4] It is home to a variety of North American wildlife and it supports many conservation programs, such as the Cape Cod Stranding Network.


The Redhead Ducks exhibit

The Buttonwood Park Zoo is located on public parkland, part of the Buttonwood Park Historic District, and federally-designated on the National Register of Historic Places.

The City of New Bedford owns and operates the zoo. The City of New Bedford funds staffing, operation, maintenance and capital improvements to facilities. Approximately $7,000,000 in Capital Improvement Program (CIP) bonds have been designated between 2014-2019 to update the facilities. Another $4,000,000 was funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2018 for further improvements. [5]

In 1969, the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society (BPZS), a private, nonprofit corporation, was founded to run concessions such as a pony ride and train, and to fundraise for the zoo. In the past five years, BPZS has begun contributing more to the support of the zoo, managing the website, membership funding, and community events at the zoo.[6]

The zoo closed in late 1998 for renovations. The zoo re-opened in August 2000.[4]

Buttonwood Park Zoo was called "one of the finest small zoos in the United States" by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in 2003.[1]

In January 2014, Ruth, one of the zoo's two Asian elephants, was found outside during a blizzard. The zoo had failed to lock the barn door. Ruth suffered hypothermia and had frostbite over much of her body. In particular, her ears, trunk, and tail were affected. Ruth lost portions of both ears and had 10" of her tail surgically amputated.[7], [8]

In 2016, Asian elephant Ruth suffered a gastrointestinal blockage and nearly died.

In 2017, an injection to Asian elephant Ruth's right ear became infected and she lost 70% of that ear.

On September 21, 2017, the Friends of Ruth & Emily sued Buttonwood Park Zoo under the federal Endangered Species Act for harm and harassment of the two Asian elephants, Ruth and Emily. The case went to trial in March 2019. A decision is pending. [9], [10]


The two Asian elephants, Ruth and Emily, during their feedtime.

The zoo houses over 200 animal species from around the world. Exhibits feature animals from the barnyard as well as the wild.[11]

The exhibits are categorized into five main areas:


The Wildlife Education Center is an educational building at the heart of the zoo. It contains two classrooms which host educational programs and business and private meetings.

Other features[edit]

The North Woods Gift Store and Bear's Den Cafe are open daily.[12]


Annual events at the zoo include "Boo at the Zoo", "Holiday Lights", "Cabin Fever Week", and "Spring Fling Week".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "History and Facts". bpzoo.org. Buttonwood Park Zoo. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  2. ^ "About the Zoo". bpzoo.org. Buttonwood Park Zoo. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. AZA. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Zoo History & Facts". Buttonwood Park Zoo. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Session Laws Acts of 2018".
  6. ^ "Zoo Society". bpzoo.org. Buttonwood Park Zoo. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  7. ^ https://www.metro.us/local/elephant-escapes-from-new-bedford-zoo-faces-freezing-temperatures/tmWnag---79V602qGSG8w
  8. ^ " "Buttonwood Park Zoo Records".
  9. ^ "Endangered Species Act (ESA)". friendsofruthandemily.
  10. ^ "Group Fights to Retire Massachusetts Zoo's Elephants". September 22, 2017.
  11. ^ "About the Zoo". Buttonwood Park Zoo. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Fun Things To Do This Weekend or On Vacation". WeGoPlaces.com.

External links[edit]