Last Updated on: 3rd April 2023, 10:59 am

With numerous attractions that are great for the whole family, Fresno is a great place to visit. One family-approved favorite is the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.  The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is located in Fresno, CA (Central California) in Roeding Park. Founded in 1908, it wasn’t officially recognized as a zoo until 1929.

While the earliest days of the Fresno Zoo were limited to a few bears, a variety of bird species, and a couple big cats and farm animals, it has since grown into a 39 acre park with over 190 species and zoo animals, 40 of which are extinct or endangered and are a part of their preservation efforts. 

With some serious ground to cover, our complete guide to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo is key to optimizing your day. We’ve gathered all the necessary information, from zoo hours, ticket information, noteworthy exhibits, and more.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo General Information

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is the only zoo in Fresno. The Chaffee Zoo saw significant growth from the 1940s to the 1960s, and animals are added yearly. The zoo was originally named Roeding Park but was renamed the Chaffee Zoological Gardens of Fresno (or Chaffee Fresno for short) in 1990 after its Director, Dr. Paul S. Chaffee. Between the numerous state-of-the-art exhibits, restaurants, concessions, and gift shops, it’s the best zoo in the Central CA area!

There are nine exhibits to explore at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo:

  • African Adventure
  • Dino Dig
  • Reptile Walk
  • Roo House
  • Sea Lion Cove
  • String Bay
  • Tropical Rainforest
  • Twiga Terrace
  • Wilderness Falls

Stingray Bay, African Adventure, and Sea Lion Cove are recent additions.

Where is the Fresno Chaffee Zoo located?

Fresno Zoo is located in Roeding Park in Fresno, California, off the Golden State HWY and near HWY 180.

What are the Fresno Chaffee zoo hours?

The Fresno Zoo hours are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and the park is open daily. However, during the holiday season, the Fresno Zoo remains open until 8:00 pm for visitors to enjoy the beautiful Christmas lights. From November 27, 2020, to December 1, 2020, enjoy the Chaffee Fresno Zoo lights while learning about the zoo’s various animals and exhibits. Fresno zoo lights are a huge tourist attraction, so purchasing your tickets beforehand might be a good idea.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo Tickets, Pricing, Membership Information, and Parking

Obtaining Fresno Chaffee Zoo Tickets is simple, easy, and affordable. You can purchase your tickets online before arriving or when you arrive.

  • Fresno Chaffee Zoo Adult Admission cost: $14.95
  • Fresno Chaffee Zoo Children Admission cost: $8.95

Walk-up tickets work fine in a pinch, but you may experience a wait, especially during the holiday season or weekends. If you have pre-purchased tickets, keep your eyes peeled for a pre-purchased ticket line.

If you plan to be a frequent visitor of the Fresno Zoo, a yearly membership may be something to consider. Fresno Zoo membership benefits:

  • Year-round memberships start at $75.00
  • Unlimited admission during regular zoo hours
  • Free Stingray Bay admission
  • Discounted giraffe feeding
  • 10% discount at all Fresno Zoo gift shops
  • 10% discount on Safari Café, Kopje Lodge, and Kudu Café concessions
  • Discounts on programs and events
  • Discounted admission to over 120 AZA reciprocal zoos and aquariums nationwide | check out the list of reciprocal zoos

Fresno Zoo can experience long lines and wait times on the weekends and holidays. Before your big day, remember there are two entrances to the zoo: the Belmont Ave Entrance and the Olive entrance. Parking costs $5 per car but is subject to change on holidays and special events.

What To Do At The Fresno Zoo | Attractions, Exhibits, and Restaurants

The Fresno, CA Zoo has too many attractions, exhibits, stores, and restaurants to know where to start – here’s an insider look at the Fresno Zoo. 

Animal Exhibits

There are various exhibits in the Fresno Zoo: African Adventure, Dino Dig, Reptile Walk, Roo House, Sea Lion Cove, String Bay, Tropical Rainforest, Twiga Terrace, and Wilderness Falls.

Here is a look at the Fresno Zoo animals you’ll see during your visit.

African Adventure Exhibit

Spanning 13 acres of the Fresno Zoo, the African Adventure Exhibit houses Elephants, Cheetahs, Giraffes, and Rhinos. Emulating the African plains, the views of the African Adventure Exhibit are spectacular, and the animals are fierce.

Sea Lion Cove

As one of the top Sea Lion exhibits in the country, Sea Lion Cove is a guest favorite at the Fresno Zoo. Sea Lion Cover had a grand re-opening in 2012 and has since been awarded the Prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums Top Honor Exhibit Award for Sea Lion Cove.

Stingray Bay

Stingray Bay is the perfect activity for kids. Let your children experience an up-close encounter with cow-nose and southern stingrays.

Tropical Rainforest 

Enter the Chaffee Fresno Zoo bird paradise. Experience 16 different bird species flying above you in this tropical oasis.

Twiga Terrace

Have you ever made eye contact with a giraffe? Well, at the Fresno Zoo, you can! Get up close and personal with one of the world’s tallest creatures. You can pay $5 to feed the giraffes or watch from a distance on the lookout tour.

Kingdoms of Asia

Fresno Zoo’s latest project is the Kingdoms of Asia, the exhibit that will welcome sloths, bears, and other unique creatures to the zoo! Expect the grand opening to take place in early 2023.

Attractions

Take a break from exploring the various animal exhibits; Fresno Zoo has numerous attractions as well!

Wilderness Falls

We all know hot California summers can get, and while enjoyable, walking around the entire day likely calls for a cool-down (especially for the kiddos). Wilderness Falls is an interactive play area/splash park for you and your children to cool off after a long day!

Dino Dig

Dino Dig is a great activity for your kiddos. Let their imaginations run wild as they venture back to prehistoric times sifting through the sand in search of dinosaur bones and more. Your child can be a Paleontologist for the day, extracting full-size T-Rex bones and more!

Fresno Chaffee Dining Options

While guests are allowed to bring outside food, the Fresno Zoo also offers multiple dining options.

  • Kopje Lodge | You can order online and access their menu.
  • Safari Café | You can order online and access their menu.
  • Kudu Café | You can order online and access their menu.

If you decide to bring your own food, there are a few conditions:

  • No aluminum cans, straws, or alcohol are permitted within the park.
  • No large ice chests are allowed; small personal coolers are accepted.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo Events

Aside from the noteworthy events Fresno Zoo organizes each year, it’s also a great spot to host a birthday party or other private event.

Black History Month Celebration

On Thursday, February 23rd, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Fresno Zoo has a Black History Month Event with vendors, live music, food trucks, and more.

Fresno Zoo Lights

The annual Zoo Lights, Fresno, are one of the main events the Fresno Zoo hosts yearly. The event was coined the IllumiNature in 2022 and was a huge success. The Fresno Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland when the zoo is decorated for the holiday season.  In 2022 the dates were November 27, 2020, to December 1, 2020, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, but the dates may vary year-to-year.

Fresno Zoo Night Safari

Every year the Fresno Zoo hosts a special safari night event where the proceeds raised are donated to charity. The event includes cocktails, a silent auction, a seated dinner, a live auction, and live entertainment. The dates differ yearly, but you can stay up-to-date on special events by watching their Fresno Zoo special events tab.

Birthday Parties

If you’ve decided Fresno Zoo is where you’d like to host your birthday, contact the special events coordinator to secure your date! The birthday package will cost non-members $450 and members $425 includes:

  • Admission for 25 people
  • Two hours of play in the Jungle Bungalow
  • Zoo-themed decoration and dessert
  • Free admission for the birthday boy or girl
  • One voucher for a giraffe feeding or free admission to Stingray Bay for the birthday child
  • Event host to assist and ensure everything goes smoothly
  • Additional add-ons can affect the price

Private Events

If you’re interested in having a private event at the Fresno Zoo, they have the trained personnel and venue options to handle the job.

Venue options:

  • Canopy Grove
  • Rainforest Lawn
  • Sea Lion Cove
  • Event Garden

Event pricing varies, so it’s best to contact the Fresno Zoo Event Coordinator at  559-498-5924 or by email at [email protected].

Fresno Chaffee Zoo Jobs

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo isn’t just a great place to spend your free time; it’s also a wonderful place to work. Fresno Zoo partners with housing authorities to provide affordable Fresno housing to employees. This program serves over 50,000 Fresno, CA residents.

Interested in working at the zoo? Take a look at Fresno Chaffee Zoo jobs to see the various opportunities.

Insider Tips on Exploring the Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Here are a few additional tips and tricks for adventuring around the Fresno Zoo!

  • Keep a Chaffee Fresno Zoo Map downloaded onto your smartphone in case you lose cell service.
  • Pack a phone charger.
  • Drink plenty of water. There are various water stations throughout the zoo.
  • If you have little ones, stroller prices range from $8 to $10.

If you’re visiting Fresno and are looking for things to do, we hope this guide finds you well and proves useful. If you’re researching the Fresno Zoo before a big move, we’d like to offer even more expertise – in the moving department, that is. Moving to Fresno is no easy feat and our Fresno Movers are here to help. Contact Southbay Moving Systems at 831-786-5537 for a free quote!