The Honolulu Zoo is a great place to visit while on Oahu.
We have visited zoos all over the United States and therefore, didn’t have high expectations of the Honolulu Zoo, as we knew it was quite small. Well, we were pleasantly surprised!!! For starters, the Honolulu Zoo is a 42 acre site with views of the ocean and gorgeous mountains as you walk around. How many zoos can claim that? Showing off all the beauty of tropical plants in Hawaii, the Honolulu Zoo offers a collection of horticulture including tropical trees, scrubs and flowers. Most zoos just smell like a zoo! The Honolulu Zoo has so many tropical flowers and constant ocean breezes adding great fragrances to an otherwise, typical smelly place.
It is a wonderful walk from Waikiki, located next to Kapi’olani Park. If you are driving to the zoo, there is parking available. I recommend arriving when the zoo opens at 9 a.m. to experience the animals in the cooler part of the day. We brought our backpacks with water and snacks. It took us approximately 2.5 hours to see all of the exhibits, but if you plan to eat there, shop or tour the Keiki (kids) Zoo it would take much longer. It is the perfect place to spent the whole day and eat lunch on the picnic lawn and playground area in the center of the zoo. My favorite thing about the Honolulu Zoo is all of the trees providing shade throughout. There was always a place to stand at each exhibit in a shaded area. I cannot say the same for our experience riding camels at the Phoenix Zoo in 100+ degree weather!
Did you know that the Honolulu Zoo is the only zoo in a 2300 mile radius? Yes, the closest zoo to the Honolulu Zoo is the San Diego Zoo in California which is located 2511 miles away.
The Honolulu Map and Information Guide makes maneuvering throughout the zoo very simple. There are sculptures throughout the zoo for kids to climb on and for great photo opportunities~ the Giraffe, Maasai Tribesman and Hippo sculptures.
Off to view the Gharial, fish-eating crocodile. Yikes! Super scary, as we leaned over the bridge and saw what was lurking below ~ crocodiles sitting very still at the bottom of the water! They were huge. You can see one barely above the water in the picture below.
Off to the African Savanna to view warthogs, aardvarks, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, reptiles, baboons, lions, black rhinos, chimpanzees, African wild dogs and of course, meerkats!
The African Savanna is 1/3 of the zoo grounds where you can view animals from the world’s largest grasslands. Upon entering the Savanna, you will notice the characteristics of African landscape such as marshes, wooded forests, rivers and rocks. Hard to believe this is all in Hawaii! It was so exciting to see such large animals moving about so close to where we were standing. The African Savanna is set up with large, glass areas for optimal viewing rather than trying to observe through a fence.
The giraffes and zebras roamed around together in the same area. It is very open with bench seating and great for taking pictures.
Visit the Keiki Zoo within the Honolulu Zoo~ The Keiki Zoo is a special place for the little ones to run wild and learn at the same time. It is very colorful and near a large playground. This is an area for the kids to explore and learn more about animals.
Across from the Keiki Zoo is a large playground with slides and climbing structures for kids to get out their energy. It is also a great place to eat lunch at one of the picnic tables in the shade.
Primates of the World~ What primates can be found in tropical regions of the world?? The chimpanzees are pictured above. They definitely perform for their audience. They were swinging from rope to rope making very loud noises. It was quite a show. There are five major groups: Lemurs which are from Madagascar, Langurs – old world monkeys from Asia, Spider Monkeys from South America, Gibbons and Siamangs referred to as the “lesser apes”, Orangutans/Chimpanzees from Asia and Africa.
Tropical Forest Animals~ Don’t miss the Sumatran Tigers!!!! They were asleep, or lounging in the sun, when we were there. However, they would occasionally lift their head and look around. I was able to snap a picture right as the tiger lifted its head. They were SO close! I can’t get over how close visitors can get to the animals. I just love that! Our favorite animal of the day was probably the elephant. She was definitely showing off, throwing clumps of dirt on her head and coming closer and closer to the fence.
In 2011, The Honolulu Zoo opened its new Asian tropical elephant exhibit which is 68-thousand square feet. The 12 million dollar exhibit has two separate exhibits and separate sleeping quarters for both Mari and Vaigai. The new exhibit has caves, real plants (opposed to previous painted plants), and two pools to cool off in. Be sure to visit Mari and Vaigai!!! The first time we went through the exhibit they were not out, so we circled back around before we left the zoo and one of them was out and about playing with the sand.
There is so much more to see at the Honolulu Zoo, including the Kipuka Nene Sanctuary, Australasian Birds, Galapagos Tortoise, Bird Egg Exhibit, Lions and more.
5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine