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A Tour Through Fresno Chaffee Zoo

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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Leverne Brown

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