The Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens is located in Hilo on the “Big Island” of Hawaii. This 12-acre zoo is the only naturally occurring tropical rainforest zoo in the United States. It is home to more than 80 animal species including Giant Anteaters, American Alligators and two Bengal Tigers, a white Bengal tiger named Tzatziki and an orange Bengal tiger named Sriracha.
The zoo opened in 1978 and features exhibits that are designed to maximize and blend with the natural vegetation of the Pana‘ewa Forest Reserve, which gets more than 125 inches of rain a year.
You’ll also see endemic animals like the endangered ‘Io (Hawaiian Hawk), and the Pueo (Hawaiian Owl) and the state bird, Nene
Welcome to the beautiful gardens of the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens. Take a relaxing stroll along paved paths surrounded by a lush landscape of trees and plants stopping along the way to view our zoo animals. On your walk you will find over 100 types of palm, many varieties of vireya (tropical rhododendren), bamboo, orchids, and bromeliads to name just a few. Keep a look out for the Zoo’s Discovery Forests, the Native Forest of trees and plants and the Agro-Forest of edible varieties. At the water-garden pond you will see gorgeous water hyacinth and mosaic plants. You may even spot a bullfrog on a lily-pad.
Bring the keiki to enjoy our petting zoo – open every Saturday from 1:30 p.m to 2:30 p.m. The zoo also has a playground where your keiki can enjoy the play equipment.
We feed the alligators every day at 1:30 p.m.
The zoo is operated by Hawaii County and receives its funding from the County and from private donations. Admission is free.
Adopt & FOSTER
Animals For Adoption
What We Do
Besides joining Friends of the Zoo and contributing in that way, interested persons can volunteer at the Petting Zoo on Saturdays and/or join the Animal Enrichment Team on Wednesdays. Since the Petting Zoo requires working with children, there is a screening process which must take place before this can happen.
To join the Animal Enrichment Team, you need to be available most Wednesdays at noon for about 2 hours and you must have some experience with and enjoy working with animals. Sound like something you might like?
Another way that FOZ raises money for projects at our zoo is through the sale of extraordinary benches featuring our animals in the zoo. Developed by Charlene Lofgreen, these benches are excellent sites for photo ops and are located throughout the zoo grounds. A sold bench will have a plaque. We have a few that have not been sold yet, including an iguana, an alligator, young tigers and a toucan. The purchaser is allowed to request wording in memory of a loved one or in commemoration of an event. FOZ will have a small plaque printed with limited wording in recognition of the person or event. If you would like to purchase a bench please email email@example.com. Be sure to include a name and phone number for ease of response to the request.
All donations to Friends of the Zoo and membership with us is tax deductible.
Attention all you Amazon shoppers. Friends of the Panaewa Zoo has an Amazon Smile account. What this means is that when you shop at Amazon Smile, .05% of the purchase price from your eligible Amazon Smile purchases will be donated to FOZ.
Simply log on to Amazon at https://smile.amazon.com/, type in Friends of the Panaewa Zoo as the organization you would like to support and go shopping. Amazon will remember your selection; however, in order for FOZ to receive a donation as a result of your purchase, you will need to log in at smile.amazon.com each time you shop.
Program details may be found at https://smile.amazon.com/about.
Visit our Zoo Gift Shop for fun items like mugs, tumblers, toys, bumper stickers and more. Also we have key chains, stuffed animals and t-shirts featuring our famous tigers. We carry a variety of books and other educational items.
Drinks and light snacks are available for purchase.
Proceeds from all sales go to support the various Friends of the Zoo endeavors to care for the animals, gardens and zoo property.
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Friends of the Pana'ewa Zoo
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Frequently Asked Questions