The Honolulu Zoo is the wildest place in Waikīkī. Situated in the shadow of Diamond Head crater at the corner of Kapahulu and Kalākaua Avenues, the zoo was stablished in 1877. In fact, it is the only zoo in the United States that originated in a King’s grant of royal lands to his people.
History of the Honolulu Zoo
In 1876, King David Kalākaua, Monarch of Hawai‘i, made lands of the Leahi Crown Holdings available to the people of Hawai‘i. One a year later, King Kalākaua dedicated Kapiolani Regional Park, named for his consort Queen Kapiolani. He also appointed a park association to oversee the 300-acre parcel of fishponds, lagoons, marshlands, and islands. With the help of royal subsidies, the park was developed to display the King’s private bird collection and to feature a horseracing track.
In 1914, the City of Honolulu assumed responsibility for the park. The first Park Director, Ben Hollinger began adding animals to the bird collection. Kapiolani Bird Park grew to include three large aviary complexes and established techniques for breeding and bird care.
In 1947, 42.5 acres within Kapiolani Regional Park were designated as the Honolulu Zoo. the original design arranged animals in taxonomic groupings of bird, reptile, and mammal exhibits.
In 1984, a Tropical Zoological Garden plan re-organized zoo exhibits into tropical ecological zones. Management and staff at the zoo is committed to making the Honolulu Zoo a place of refuge and wonder for residents and visitors alike.
About the Honolulu Zoo
The mission of the Honolulu Zoo is to inspire stewardship of our living world by providing conservation, education, and meaningful experiences to our community.
The 42-acre zoo exhibits are organized into tropical ecological zones: the African Savanna, Asian and American Tropical Forests, and Pacific Islands. The Zoo emphasizes Pacific Tropical ecosystems and Hawaiian values of malama (caring) and ho`okipa (hospitality).
The Honolulu Zoo is home to over 900 different animals. The collection includes mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. You’ll see lions and tigers (but no bears, oh my), elephants, aardvarks, orangutans, monkeys, and more. There are tortoises and turtles and skinks, too. Plus a variety of frogs, snakes, and tropical birds. Many endangered species are represented, including Komodo dragon (world’s largest lizard at 10-feet), the African wild dog, Palm Cockatoo, and several more.
Visiting the Honolulu Zoo
While visiting the animals, use quiet voices. Be sure to point out something that doesn’t look right to a staff member. The Zoo is the animals’ home, please respect their space. Do not tap on glass or throw things into the exhibits. Definitely do not feed, scream, clap, howl, harass, annoy, torment, pester, badger, heckle, irk, bother, or tease the animals in any way. Mahalo!
- Address: Honolulu Zoo, 151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815.
- Hours: Daily 10AM-6PM. Closed Christmas Day.
- General admission: $19/adult. Kama‘āina/Military: $8.
- Parking: The Zoo parking lot entrance is on Kapahulu Avenue and charges $1.50 per hour (4-hour max). Machine accepts credit cards, dollar bills and coins. Machines do not make change. The Waikiki Shell parking lot across the street on Monsarrat Avenue has free parking.
- Café: .
- Zoo map: Honolulu-Zoo-Map (PDF)
- Website: https://www.honoluluzoo.org/
Honolulu Zoo Membership
Membership: begins at $40 and admits two adults for one year, plus a newsletter and discount in the café and gift shop.
More info: Honolulu Zoo Membership
Volunteer at Honolulu Zoo
Volunteers age 18+ are welcome at the Honolulu Zoo. It is a great way to learn about animals and gain valuable experience, support conservation initiatives, meet new people, and work outdoors in a lush tropical environment. Benefits include: professional training, discounts (gift shop, snack bar, membership), special appreciation events, and more. More info: Honolulu Zoo: Volunteer Your Time | Support Honolulu Zoo
Honolulu Zoo special events
Wildest Show: A fundraiser for the Hawaiian hawk (‘Io)
Bring family and friends to enjoy music, keiki activities, and more while helping raise funds for the Zoo’s new Hawaiian hawk habitat. The Hawaiian hawk (‘Io), a symbol of Hawaiian royalty – swift, strong, and fierce – are natively found nowhere else in the world than Hawai’i island. Facing challenges with habitat loss and human conflict the ‘Io needs our help. In partnership with the Hawaii Wildlife Center, a rehab facility specializing in native birds and bats, the Zoo is working to build a habitat for ‘Io at the Honolulu Zoo that can no longer be released back in the wild.
- When: Every Wednesday evening, June 29 to July 27, 2022 from 5:00-7:00 pm. The Zoo will be open normal business hours (10:00 am-4:00 pm) and re-open at 4:30 pm for the Wildest Show!
- Where: Use the Monsarrat Avenue entrance only. Wildest Show guests will be asked to stay within the Great Lawn during the event as the rest of the Zoo will be closed.
- Admission: $15/non-members, $10/Honolulu Zoo Society members, $5/keiki (ages 3-12), free for keiki 2 and under
- ʻUkulele giveaway: Each week attendees will be able to enter a drawing for a ukulele generously donated throughout the series by Kamaka, KoAloha, Kala and The Ukulele Site.
- June 29th Maunalua
- July 6th Robi Kahakalau
- July 13th Pure Heart
- July 20th Mākaha Sons
- July 27th Amy Hānaialiʻi
Twilight Tours: see the Zoo After Hours
Ever wonder what the Zoo is like once the visitors leave and the gates close? Join Honolulu Zoo on Saturday evenings to find out!
After s everyone else leaves the Zoo, you will be guided by educators on a walking tour to learn about and visit with some of the Zoo’s most intriguing animals. Some of the animals are preparing to sleep, while others are just waking up. Learn about the animals’ biology and behavior, and the role that the Zoo plays in the conservation of our endangered species.
Twilight Tours occur rain or shine (so, no refunds). The tour is 2-hours, so wear comfortable shoes.
- When: April – September 5:30pm – 7:30pm. October – March 4:30pm – 6:30pm.
- Admission: Regular adult $25, child (3-13) $20, under age 2 are FREE.
- Discounts: Kama`aina/military get $5 discount off regular prices. Zoo members get $10 discount off regular prices.