Attraction of the Week: Reid Park Zoo in Tucson
Reid Park Zoo is a small 24 acre non-profit zoo in Tucson, Arizona. Although quite small, the zoo still houses over 500 animals including several endangered species such as the Gibbon and the Andean Bear. The landscaping is gorgeous, and surprisingly, there is ample shade for a desert environment. Thus, a summer morning visit is not that unbearable, that is until temps soar past the 100 degree range (In 2017, the zoo closed early during a rare multi day 110+ heat wave).
Why the Reid Park Zoo is Great!
The animals all seem to live within pretty large enclosures which resemble their natural environment. The zoo is very clean and up kept and the animals all seem to be well taken care of. There is always staff around maintaining the facilities. Reid Park is one of those zoos where you know it is not all about profit, and it is quite evident that the staff has put effort into maintaining a clean and attractive looking zoo.
The zoo is split up into 4 different habitats, with a little nature stroll going through each section. It’s impossible to miss any animals due to the trail like layout, so you really do not even need a map. It’s very easy to get around and very compact, so you can relax and take your time enjoying each animal as opposed to the normal big city zoo experience of rushing to see everything before the park closes. Most of the animals are always out and about, seemingly enjoying themselves. The lions and bears are always particularly lively.
How much time do I need?
The entire zoo can be walked around twice in just an hour or so, meaning a trip to Reid Park definitely is not your typical all day activity like some of the larger zoos, however, it’s a great add on activity if you are looking for more to do during your Tucson trip. As you will likely be working up a sweat exploring all the fabulous parks and hiking trails in the area, the Reid Park Zoo comes in as a nice relaxed experience.
During the summer season on Friday nights, Reid Park hosts a special Summer Safari night event, where you can stroll the zoo after hours with the advantage of cooler temperatures, as well as live entertainment. The annual Halloween event, known as Boo at the Zoo, is a really fun time to visit. In addition to seeing many animals (note not all of them will be out), you will get to enjoy festive lights, spooky music, a synchronized singing pumpkin light show, and even a few festive treats!
Check out this cute singing pumpkin show!
Zoo Lights is also a fantastic time. Every holiday season, the zoo transforms into a winter wonderland with colorful lights, lighted animal sculptures, and visits from Santa. Add in falling snow and seasonal treats and it will feel as if you have entered the North Pole. The prices are super affordable, making this one of the country’s best bang-for-your-buck Zoo Lights festivals.
Enjoy a little photo tour of the zoo!
A rare glimpse of elephants swimming – most likely cooling off from the desert heat!
For a full afternoon out, I recommend combining your zoo visit with a picnic/bike ride/stroll around beautiful Reid Park, which is adjacent to this zoo. This gorgeous park is the best way to spend an afternoon out in nature.
Where to eat near the zoo
Picnicking at beautiful Reid Park is the best option for a day out in natural surroundings. In terms of restaurants, there are many great choices in the region. Rocco’s (authentic Chicago style pizza) and Polish Cottage (gorgeous ambiance) are 2 wonderful picks less than 2 miles from the entrance.
Location, Hours, & Pricing Info
Reid Park Zoo is located at: 3400 E Zoo Ct, Tucson, AZ 85716.
Hours are as follows: October – May:9 a.m. – 4 p.m., June – September: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas).
Admission is $10.50 per adult, $8.50 for seniors (62+), and $6.50 for kids aged 2-14.