Basic tips for visitors to “Plan a Visit to the Zoo”
Our zoo is situated in a tropical rainforest and Hilo sometimes is known as the wet side of the island. This is true, but it doesn’t mean you should stay away. Just count on the possibility of a shower and enjoy the lush rainforest that grows because of the rain.
Average temperatures in Hilo are between 70°F and 75°F (21 °C and 24 °C). August is the warmest month, and January the coolest. Temperatures here are always comfortable.
What to bring: The zoo is a fun place whether rain or shine so bring rain gear and sunscreen for everyone in your group.
ADA Accessible Options
Service Animal Policy: Concurrent with ADA regulations the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens does allow fully trained service animals into the Zoo. At this time we do not allow service animals in training. A patron wishing to enter the Zoo with a service animal must agree to be accompanied by a Zoo staff member or volunteer for the duration of their visit. Click here for Animal Service Policy and Signature Form.
Mobility Scooter Policy: A 48-hour advance reservation is required to ensure a Mobility Scooter is available for your use. Walk-ins may be accommodated if available. Click here for Mobility Scooter Policy and Signature Form.
Stop by and say hi to our Ring-tailed Lemurs!
Enjoy a family fun day at the zoo. Besides enjoying all of the animals the zoo also features covered pavilions for picnics and a playground for your keiki. Do you have a special event coming up like a birthday party or other celebration? What better place to enjoy your gathering than at the zoo! For information about renting a pavilion for an event please contact the Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation at (808) 961-8311.
Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo was formed in 1981 and received its nonprofit status in 1986. Its intent was and still is to promote the Pana’ewa Zoo, to assist in providing for special zoo needs, and to enhance the lives of the resident animals wherever possible without interfering with the operations of this municipal zoo, owned and operated by the County of Hawaii.
To accomplish our goal of promoting the zoo, we encourage those interested in our zoo to contribute to the Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo (FOZ). Information regarding membership is located on the back of every zoo map. There are other opportunities for cash contributions, including a donation box, at the entry/exit of the zoo. These are all ways you can help FOZ fund projects at your zoo. We also have a Facebook page and a website that show recent pictures of our animals and events, as well as our quarterly newsletters. Both of these sites are popular with visitors to our island as well as local residents who frequent the zoo often.
We also encourage people to adopt animals by contributing to Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo at the gift shop, where the adopters are given an information packet and a certificate of adoption, signifying that the donor is helping that animal with special enrichment toys, any requested veterinary approved dietary supplements and other needs that the adopted animal might require. Adoptions cost $25 per adopted animal.
Also part of promoting the zoo are our special events during the year. This year those events included our annual Plant Sale and our Tiger Fun Day.
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 Lofgren, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include a name and phone number for ease of response to the request.
With the proceeds of FOZ memberships, the plant sale, bench sales and our Tiger Fun Day, we are able to fund various zoo projects and FOZ Board interests. Before each expenditure is made, there is discussion and approval by the Board. We are also the recipients of grants by interested community members and local businesses, and use those grants in a similar fashion. Some of the recent proposals we have given money for are: Special toys for the tigers, special lighting for the reptile house, travel expenses to bring the tigers to Hawaii, copper sheeting to keep slugs out of the lemur exhibit, and fencing materials for a new donkey enclosure. These requests also play into our goal of enhancing the lives of the residents of the zoo.
Another endeavor which gives us funds for zoo projects is the operation of the zoo gift shop. With the dedication of our gift shop staff members and help from Senior Employment, the gift shop is open every day that the zoo is open. They contribute a significant part of our funding for zoo projects.
At present, FOZ has two special events during the year.
The Plant Sale happens in late April or early May, usually the Sunday before Mother’s Day. Plant vendors and others are invited to sell their specialty plants and the various societies that plant at the zoo, including the Bamboo, Palm, Cycad, Orchid, Water Garden and Tropical Vireya Societies are frequently present to provide information about their areas of expertise.
Tiger Fun Day is usually in June. Since the arrival of our now-two-year-old-tigers, it celebrates their release from quarantine in 2016. FOZ provides games, entertainment and food for the family to enjoy and special treats for the tigers. Terry and Tammy Tiger, seen in photos on this website, are welcomed guests, along with Andy Alligator.