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Clovis Botanical Gardens

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Written by: Nina Sensenbaugh

My grandson and I spent a summer day at the Clovis Botanical Gardens this year. The plants are absolutely magnificent year round! Our day trip was eventful with lots fun and laughter, and we can’t wait to return during the Fall/Winter to experience the changes, and look of the gardens.

We first stopped at the gift shop to load up on water. While at the gift shop my grandson spotted some interesting looking stickers, and of course, grandma just had to buy those for him. On our way out of the gift shop, the many lizards crawling and running around outside gave us a few moments of entertainment. We had a lot of fun watching them as they scurried away to find a hiding place from the visitors.

The Clovis Botanical Gardens
The Clovis Botanical Gardens is a three-acre water-wise demonstration garden composed of beautiful plants, and landscapes specifically unique to the San Joaquin Valley. This gem is completely run by a group of dedicated volunteers who make sure the plants thrive during the hot summers, and continue to live during the cool winters. The purpose of the Clovis Botanical Gardens is to promote water conservation, while providing education, and inspiration to the public.

The Inspiration Behind the Idea
The idea of such an oasis of beauty was presented to the Clovis City Council in 1993 by Gordon Russell. Russell was inspired by his visits to other botanical gardens, and he realized that the San Joaquin Valley could richly benefit from his experience. In 1995 legal non-profit status was granted to the Clovis Botanical Garden Committee, Inc.

There are several events that take place at the Clovis Botanical Gardens year round. Twilight Thursdays takes place mid September-early October. A $1 donation is requested at the gate for live concerts, and family enjoyment. Family style picnic dinners are encouraged at the events.

There is an upcoming Water Wise Plant Sale on October 21, 8 am-1 pm. A VIP showing is available on October 20, 5 pm – 7 pm

Location/Hours of Operation
The Clovis Botanical Garden is located at 945 N. Clovis Avenue, Clovis, CA 93611. It is open Wednesday – Sunday 9 am – 4 pm. Please note: The garden is closed for the holidays on January 1, July 4, Thanksgiving Day, and December 24 & 25.

For more information regarding the Clovis Botanical Gardens you may call (559) 298-3091 OR email admin@clovisbotanicalgarden.or.

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Guarantee Good Will Network Sponsors Made For Them

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The Guarantee Good Will Network is pleased to announce a $1,750 sponsorship to Made For Them. The grant will help fund the organization’s annual Art of Freedom fundraiser. The event is held each year to help raise funds for the organization’s commitment to fight local human trafficking.

About Made For Them
Made For Them is a social enterprise fashion brand that was established in 2011. The organization is committed to exposing and breaking down the injustices of basic rights, and personal freedoms of individuals forced into human trafficking. Made For Them seeks to shed light on what human trafficking is, and provide healing, hope, and new opportunities for survivors. The non-profit is often praised by the Fresno Police Department, and other community organizations for their passionate stand against human trafficking, commitment to providing prevention, providing education, job creation, and advocacy services to survivors.

Made For Them Changes Lives
The mission of the organization is to inspire individuals to realize their dreams, and achieve economic independence. Made For Them provides work opportunities for survivors by teaching them how to make soaps and jewelry. The survivors are provided all of the materials necessary for making their merchandise, and then they are paid for their time. This program provides a “hand-up” instead of a “hand-out” by allowing them to earn honest wages while completing their rehabilitation process. All of the proceeds earned from selling the merchandise are invested back into the organization.

Art of Freedom
To support the ongoing efforts of this amazing organization, an Art of Freedom fundraiser is held every year. This year, the event will take place on September 30th, and will be hosted by Fresno Police Department’s Chief Jerry Dyer, and Liz Harrison with ABC 30. The event attracts a wide audience of civic and community leaders, business professionals, and Fresno’s trendsetters to support their work in the community.

How Can I Help?
As a resident of Central California you have the ability to support this wonderful organization, and bring change to the community. Made For Them can’t do this fight alone. The organization seeks partners that will help, and stand with them. The website is currently under construction, but please don’t hesitate to call and inquire about donation/volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in purchasing tickets for the Art of Freedom fundraiser, you may use the contact information down below.

Please contact:
Andrea M. Shabaglian
Founder and Executive Director
(559) 441-0327
andrea@madeforthem.org

Amy Cortel
Event Coordinator/Sponsorships
(559) 441-0327
AOF_Fresno@madeforthem.org

The Guarantee Goodwill Network Fund is a donor-advised fund, established at the Central Valley Community Foundation, to encourage Guarantee employees to give back to the communities where they live and work.


Big Hat Days

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Written by: Maria Martins-Sanchez

I just love Spring time in Old Town Clovis. One of my favorite events that’s held every year is Big Hat Days.

Big Hat Days starts on the first weekend of every April, and the event serves as the kick-off celebration to a week-long rodeo experience. This event is one of the largest festivals in Central California, with over 125,000 attendees, and 400 food and crafts vendors.

Everyone is encouraged to wear a BIG elaborately decorated hat. The hats can be decorated to reflect your personality, or you may decorate them however you wish. Just make sure you are creative!

Big Hat Days is a perfect event to enjoy time spent with family, friends and loved ones. Make sure to mark your calendar for the first weekend in April. It’s going to be spectacular!

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Guarantee Joins the Fight Against Hunger

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Recently the offices at Guarantee Real Estate joined the efforts of Community Food Bank (CFB) to fight against hunger in Central California. In an effort to support the Community Food Bank’s annual Hunger Heroes fundraising campaign, Guarantee Real Estate worked diligently to raise over $13,500 in monetary donations during 2017! With the CFBs tremendous buying power, the amount raised in this campaign will help provide thousands of meals to local families.

About The Community Food Bank
The Community Food Bank is dedicated to ending hunger in Central California by providing food to anyone in the community with a need. The Community Food Bank serves 200 agencies in 5 counties and provides food to about 280,000 people each month.

$.97 of every dollar goes directly to feeding programs and services such as; their “BackPack Program” which provides children with a backpack of high-quality food to last through the weekend, and their “Mobile Pantry Program” which distributes foods to rural locations via a self-contained vehicle. During the fiscal year of 2016 the Community Food Bank served over 40 million pounds of food to the counties of Fresno, Madera, Kings, Kern, and Tulare.

How Can I get involved
Learn more about the Community Food Bank and how to become an advocate for the hungry in our community by clicking HERE

The Guarantee Goodwill Network Fund is a donor-advised fund, established at the Central Valley Community Foundation, to encourage Guarantee employees to give back to the communities where they live and work.


Forestiere Underground Gardens-Mystery, History, and Creativity

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Written by: Leverne Brown

Forestiere Underground Gardens-Mystery, History, and Creativity
Last week I discovered a mystery spot filled with intrigue, history, and creativity right in the city of Fresno. Located off of Hwy 99/Golden State is a California Historical Landmark that’s hidden among a citrus grove with wild flowers, and grapevines.

Forestiere Underground Gardens is certainly a sight to behold. It’s a large labyrinth of underground rooms, tunnels, gardens and fruit trees. As my tour guide Rhanda simply described, “you will feel like Indiana Jones today, but if you’re not careful, you can get lost!”

Once inside, I found the underground area to be quiet and peaceful, but as Rhanda lead us down the first flight of stairs, I could feel the suspense. I was hooked, intrigued, and wanted to know more.

We quietly walked through each passageway, and I could hear the whispers from some of the kids saying, “wow! This is so neat… Hey, I wonder what’s on the other side of the tunnel?”

The first tunnel lead us to a courtyard with exotic fruits such as kumquats and loquats. Lemon and orange trees were growing as well. I even got to see what carob looks like while growing!

During my time in the courtyard I noticed something that I would have never imagined in my lifetime. The grapefruit, oranges, and lemons were all growing on same tree! How genius is that?

Baldasare Forestiere-The Visionary Before His Time
To understand the concept of this unusual masterpiece, one must learn who its creator was. Baldassare Forestiere was a visionary with ideas that were way before his time. He kept to himself, never married, nor had any children, but he had others in mind when carving out his creation.

Baldassare was a young Sicilian that arrived in America during the early 1900s. His original plan was to build a citrus empire, but that plan folded once he discovered the 80 acres of land he purchased was useless. Instead of sulking, Baldassare persevered. In 1906 he began hand carving underground rooms to escape the tremendous heat waves of Fresno, CA. After he finished a few rooms, he decided to test his citrus trees underground. To his amazement the trees started to bloom!

Baldassare soon realized that he could actually live underground.

Rhanda lead us to the small kitchen he carved for himself. The ancient stove was amazing! His cookware was designed to keep his stews very hot throughout the wintery nights, and the table folded inside of the wall when not in use! The walls of the kitchen had small cubby holes to store everything he needed to cook with. I don’t think Baldasare went without anything that was necessary to enjoy life.

As we continued the tour, we were lead to his summer and winter bedrooms. Baldassare loved his privacy and moments of relaxation. In fact, his rooms were designed in a way that he could see who was coming, but those who were coming couldn’t see him!

Our tour ended at the Chapel Garden. The chapel is small, but he managed to carve a sitting area, and hung a bell above for the feel of a real chapel. In 1956 a couple became so in enamored by the chapel, that it served as a venue for their wedding ceremony!

The End of Baldassare’s Dream
Life was good for Baldassare. He enjoyed his quiet life underground, but the ideas that consumed him wouldn’t allow him to sit still for long. He constructed a plan to build a subterranean resort adorned with delicious fruit trees, and vines that would grow beneath. Baldassare became a one man crew with a few farming tools; picks, shovels, wheelbarrows, and a scraper pulled by two mules. Over time he carved well over 10 acres. Unfortunately he died at the young age of 67, and that was the end of his “underground resort” idea.

Forestiere Underground Gardens-A Place for the World to See!
111 years later, Forestiere Underground Gardens remains a “one of a kind” gem in the city of Fresno. By visiting, guests will gain a special insight into Fresno’s history.

“The Underground Gardens is a beautiful example of taking the lemons that life hands you and making limoncello…Our lives don’t always turn out the way we imagined, but often there is a reason. If we are persistent, we can make something more beautiful out of life than we would ever have imagined.”
Shera Rodrick, Tour Services Manager, Forestiere Underground Gardens

Each year the Underground Gardens hosts visitors from all over the world. Just in March 2017, the visitor’s registry recorded visitors from Argentina, Finland, Turkey, China, Australia, and many other countries.

Forestiere Underground Gardens is an open air museum. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is California Registered Historical Landmark No. 916. In order to preserve the character of the grounds, guided tours are only offered between the months of March through November.

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Guarantee – A Trusted Name for Almost 100 Years!

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A Name You Can Trust
The name “Guarantee” has been a trusted brand for almost 100 years. When Guarantee opened as a Building and Loan company in 1919, it’s primary focus was to serve the community of Central California in the most excellent way, while helping families buy and sell their homes.

Over the years Guarantee has proven that families and community are what’s most important to goal fulfillment and business success. The company has changed over time, however it has remained a solid foundation and a trusted resource for the community it so dearly loves.

Like most Americans, the residents of Central California experienced many hard times including; The Great Depression and World War II. It was during these times Guarantee became recognized and appreciated by homeowners for putting the needs of its clients first. This business philosophy helped to shape and develop the company’s image of how it appears today. “A Name You can Trust”.

Old Guarantee Building

Successful With Changes in Time
As time passed and the housing market shifted, Guarantee Savings understood that changes were necessary for community growth and business opportunity. As the needs for real estate services grew, the “Guarantee” brand grew as well. In 1984 Guarantee Real Estate was established, and in 1985 J. Scott Leonard was announced as its President/CEO.

Guarantee Real Estate started with only 40 associates and two office locations. The company thrived by recruiting the best associates who pledged to provide high-quality services. “Using the well established reputation of the brand itself, and adherence to integrity, ethics, and high moral standards, Guarantee Real Estate became successful and earned the reputation as the leading company in the market.” – J. Scott Leonard, President/CEO Guarantee Real Estate 1985-2015

In 1987 Glendale Federal Bank purchased Guarantee Savings and Guarantee Real Estate. In 1991 Guarantee Real Estate was sold to Joan Eaton, Paul Gibson, and J. Scott Leonard.

Changing Lives and Making a Difference

Guarantee Real Estate’s roots run deep in Central California. With consistent dedication to giving back to the community, The The Guarantee Good Will Network was established in 2007. Through this charitable giving fund, Guarantee Real Estate, its Sales Associates, and employees have combined efforts to support local nonprofits that improve quality of life or provide shelter to people in need.

The Evolve of a New Era
Scott, Joan, and Paul continuously searched for greater opportunities to expand services to the community, and enhance services to the Sales Associates. In 2013 Guarantee Real Estate became a wholly-owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. HomeServices is the second-largest full-service independent residential real estate brokerage firm.

In 2014 Joan Eaton and Paul Gibson retired. In June, 2015 Andy Nazaroff was announced as the General Manager of Guarantee Real Estate, and J. Scott Leonard became Chairman Emeritus during the same time.

In December, 2015 J. Scott Leonard retired, and in January, 2016 Andy Nazaroff was announced as the President/CEO of Guarantee Real Estate.

Moving forward to a new era is an exciting journey for Guarantee Real Estate. The company is constantly evolving with the changes of each new age in real estate. However, Guarantee will continue to hold true to the same values it adopted almost a century ago.

Continuous education, advanced technology, high-quality marketing, real estate coaching, mentoring programs, and management support allow the Sales Associates to provide the best real estate services available. With over 460 Sales Associates and thirteen offices throughout Central California, Guarantee Real Estate is happy to continue serving Fresno, Clovis, Prather, Shaver Lake, Reedley, Selma, and Dinuba.


Guarantee Sponsors Youth For Christ

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The Guarantee Good Will Network announced a $600 sponsorship to Fresno/Madera Youth For Christ. The grant will be used to sponsor the organization’s Campus Life 5k Walk/Run on August 26, 2017.

About Fresno/Madera Youth for Christ
For over 75 years Youth For Christ has worked alongside the local churches to share the hope of Christ through intentional relationships, and programing. The organization encourages a balanced life for youth, by engaging with them mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. With over 100 volunteers, and a dozen staff members, the organization is able to assist over 2,000 youth each year. The ministry of the organization doesn’t just reach the school campuses, but it makes a difference in the local neighborhoods, and juvenile detention centers as well.

How Can I Help?
Youth for Christ is richly blessed by the community’s support and generosity. There are many great ways to get involved with the ministry of Youth For Christ. Whether you choose to volunteer, make a donation, or both, you will make an everlasting impact in the life of a child. CLICK HERE to learn more.

The Guarantee Goodwill Network Fund is a donor-advised fund, established at the Central Valley Community Foundation, to encourage Guarantee employees to give back to the communities where they live and work.


Guarantee Donates to Fresno First Steps Home

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The Guarantee Good Will Network announced a $2,500 grant to Fresno First Steps Home. The grant will help replenish the fund account that is used to provide emergency shelter vouchers to the homeless in Fresno County.

About Fresno First Steps Home
Fresno First Steps Home is a private partnership focused on eliminating homelessness in Fresno County. The organization formed in 2009, and it’s primary focus is to invest the funds raised in nonprofits, agencies, and in efforts that have a proven success record. Fresno First Steps Home believes that everyone deserves a place to live. By partnering with organizations who follow the “Housing First” model, the organization is able to safely transition homeless individuals to a supportive living environment, and direct them to the services needed to become productive citizens.

Fresno First Steps Changes Lives!
Since 2009, the organization has housed 3,417 homeless people, and 1,992 people have received assistance to prevent homelessness. During the past 3 years, Fresno First Steps Homes has updated its computer systems to help individuals locate mental health and housing assistance. Additionally, the program has expanded to 4 other locations, and mobile locations serving the rural areas of Fresno County.

How Can I Help?
Your contribution to Fresno First Steps Homes is desperately needed. The Emergency Voucher Program is running dangerously low, and will run out of funds before the end of this summer. With your support, you can help the organization continue to break the cycle of homelessness in Fresno County. Click here to learn how to assist the organization with your donation.

The Guarantee Goodwill Network Fund is a donor-advised fund, established at the Central Valley Community Foundation, to encourage Guarantee employees to give back to the communities where they live and work.


River Park Farmer’s Market -The Valley’s Richness in One Location

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Written by: Leverne Brown

On last Tuesday night I was in the mood for something fun and different. The weather was perfect, and I really felt like spending some time in the sun. So, I put my favorite sneakers on, grabbed my shopping bags, then headed over to the River Park Farmer’s Market. The tantalizing aromas of corn on the cob, fresh grilled sausage, kettle corn, and fresh fruit were in the air. The joy of music, love, family, and laughter set the tone for a wonderful first time experience.

River Park Farmer’s Market
When the River Park Farmer’s Market opened 18 years ago, Owner/Operator Peter De Young’s mission was to make the valley’s rich produce available to all residents in the heart of Fresno. There was no better place for a location of the Farmer’s Market than in the center of the valley’s biggest outdoor shopping arena, River Park.

So many Vendors in One Location!
With so many vendors to choose from, I had a hard time deciding where to begin my shopping experience. The smell of fresh grilled sausage was tugging at me. Caleb and Sommer DeFreitas, owners of Sierra Nevada Pork, LLC pulled me in. What a lovely couple. “Welcome! Please sample anything you want ma’am. We offer a huge assortment of flavored pork sausages, bacon, beef, and poultry. Everything is made fresh!”-Caleb DeFreitas-Owner, Sierra Nevada Pork, LLC

I couldn’t help but notice Chays Farms, a family farming business all the way from Watsonville,CA ( located near my home town of Santa Cruz). They were selling fresh berries, squash, and gorgeous chinese eggplant. The berries are very juicy by the way!

Have you ever tasted Filipino breads? They are similar to Hawaiian breads. Always soft, not too sweet, and so divine! Bread and Butter Clovis specializes in international breads, desserts, and cakes for all occasions.

Caleb from Golden State Snacks (not to be confused with Caleb from Sierra Nevada Pork), is a young man from Michigan. He visits his grandpa Mike every summer to help and learn the family business. Golden State Snacks sells an assortment of dried fruit, trail mix, and flavored nuts. I recommend the dried strawberries.

Made For Them, a local organization that fights human trafficking, uses the profit earned from selling their merchandise to pay for victim services. The women who benefit are those who’ve left the human trafficking industry and are on the road to recovery.

Homemade Peach cobbler, fruit bars, and cinnamon rolls can be purchased from Pennsylvania Pastries. All of her recipes were developed from generations of cooks in the family!

Baba Hummus offers a wide variety of flavored hummus. Zesty lemon, beet, garlic, sun dried tomato, and avocado are just a few flavors that I’ll mention. The pita chips are light and crispy, with just a touch of salt. So delicious!

Time for Dinner!
I was having so much fun at the farmer’s market that time got away from me. After two hours of shopping and chatting, I was ready for dinner and a cool drink.

The gentleman at Aguas Frescas kindly hooked me up with a mixture of pineapple/mango aguas frescas. His mother prepared a fresh fruit cup with big chunks of watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, pineapple, mango, and crunchy cucumbers. The drink was something else! It reminded me of an island beverage.

At the suggestion of another patron, I decided on TakoBBQ for dinner. The menu features bbq meats with a flair of Korean fusion.

My rice bowl included healthy amounts of spicy chicken topped with sesame seeds, crispy lettuce, and rice. Tonight I think I’ll try the Korta Sandwich, which is a Korean version of the torta.

Before leaving, I stopped at Grandpa’s Popcorn and Sweets. The company is family owned and is currently managed by the family’s third generation. Grandpa’s Popcorn is available at every Farmer’s Market and in their store as well. The menu selection is comprised of gourmet flavored popcorn, cupcakes, and chocolate sweets. The fruity popcorn tastes just like fruity pebbles!

River Park Farmer’s Market is open on Tuesdays 5-9 PM through October 24, 2017. It’s a great place to meet up with family and friends OR to enjoy an evening stroll with music and shopping.

I had a quick chat with the owner of River Park Farmer’s Market, and he is very proud of the success that the market has achieved. “The River Park Farmer’s Market offers hundreds of varieties of fresh locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, honey, nuts, and so many other things our shoppers have asked for. Our message is simple. Buy Local. Eat Fresh. Have FUN! I’m really proud that the Market we founded nearly 2 decades ago has been voted the “Most Delicious Farmers Market” in the region by the California Fresh Farmers Market Association.”-Peter De Young, Owner/Operator of River Park Farmer’s Market.

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A Tour Through Fresno Chaffee Zoo

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Written by: Leverne Brown

I recently had the opportunity to take a private tour of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo at Roeding Park. I know what you’re thinking. What’s so exciting about the zoo? Well, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo has come a long way from nearly closing down, to receiving national recognition for the best zoo exhibit. The zoo has made significant changes during the past 13 years, and it’s now a place that hosts visitors from 30 different countries and all 50 states! My tour included stops through Sea Lion Cove, African Adventure, and a wonderful experience feeding the giraffe at Twiga Terrace.

An Improved Fresno Chaffee Zoo
The funding provided by local tax Measure Z made it possible for the zoo to make major improvements to parking and older zoo exhibits. Due to the zoo’s major transformation, it now serves as a magnificent venue for weddings, receptions, events, and a learning environment for children and adults.

Sea Lion Cove-A National Award Winning Exhibit
My tour began at Sea Lion Cove, the 2014 National AZA Exhibit Award winner. Upon my arrival, I could hear the sounds of waves clapping, and the very familiar bark of sea lions that reminded me of my childhood in San Francisco Bay. This exhibit offers a coastal experience like no other zoo in California.

Sea Lion Cove has top level seating and a 35 ft. underwater viewing window. The underwater viewing window is so captivating that couples exchange vows and host wedding receptions there.

After Sea Lion Cove we took a short walk to the sloth bear exhibit. Here’s some exciting news: The sloth bear exhibit will soon expand to include a new Asian exhibit!

African Adventure
African Adventure opened in 2015 and nearly doubled the size of the zoo. As I walked through each exhibit, the sounds of African music and safari scenery made me feel as if I was on a real African Safari.

African Adventure has lions, cheetahs, African elephants, rhinos, wildebeests, a new giraffe feeding station and more.

Our first stop in African Adventure was the cheetah exhibit. I just love the cheetahs because they are very quiet and subtle. Their movements are secretive by nature to protect their prey from the vicious lion.

Across from the cheetah exhibit are the huge white rhinoceros. My favorite was “Baby Rudo” whose name means love.

Our next stop was Twiga Terrace, the giraffe feeding station. Twiga Terrace is fairly new to Fresno Chaffee Zoo and it has 5 giraffe that eat very fast! The feeding station is elevated and it allows visitors to interact with the giraffe at eye view.

My tour of African Adventure ended with the African elephants. The education station is very informative with artifacts and updates on the zoo’s participation with the African continent. I was enlightened by the information I received, and amazed at their efforts to track and identify elephants.

African Adventure is only phase one of the zoo’s expansion project. The designs for phase two are almost finished, and the new exhibits are expected to be ready for the public to enjoy sometime after 2020. Phase two will include hippos, crocodiles, and an additional underwater viewing exhibit. Also, there are plans to build a water play area that will include waterfalls, and a splash areas for children to enjoy.

“I had no idea what to expect when I started working at Fresno Chaffee Zoo. I’ve been here for 3 years and I can honestly say that the zoo has given me an appreciation for animals, wildlife and conservation. The community is supportive and we are fortunate to have a county that focuses a lot on making this place what it is.” – Ciara Castellanoz, Marketing Manager-Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is open year round with extended hours during the summer months. With so much to see and do it can be hard to decide which attraction to visit first. Be sure to plan your visit to get the best experience possible.

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