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.
Guidelines for Honolulu Zoo in 2021
COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease. Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted from people to animals. Even if you are not experiencing symptoms, coronavirus can be transmitted from people to animals through sneezing, coughing, or simply talking. Masks are recommended while viewing key zoonotic risk species such as primates and cats. Mahalo for your cooperation!
- Reservations are not required. You may arrive anytime from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Entry will be from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Guests will be asked to exit the Zoo by 4:00 p.m.
- Face coverings are no longer mandated outside when visiting the zoo. Masks are still required while indoors. Masks are recommended while viewing key zoonotic risk species such as primates and big cats. Mahalo for your cooperation!
- Please kokua and abide by the social distancing guidelines.
- Group sizes are limited to 25 guests while outdoors (10 or less indoors). Guests are asked to travel with their group to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
- Adhere to limits while in enclosed exhibits (i.e. penguins, hippopotamus, African wild dogs, etc.)
- Follow all posted signage and directional arrows through exhibits to ensure proper flow and social distancing measures.
More information: Honolulu Zoo-House-Rules-March-2021.pdf (honoluluzoo.org)
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
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 everyone else leaves the Zoo, you will be guided by educators on a two-hour walking tour to learn about some of the Zoo’s most intriguing animals. Some of the animals prepare to sleep, while others are becoming more active, and some are waking up from daytime rest. During the after hours tour, you will 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. Masks are required.
Tickets are going fast for Honolulu Zoo Twilight tours. As of mid-June, Twilight Tours ours are sold out through July.
August tours are half sold. Plenty of tickets remain for September (last time we checked).
- Twilight Tour times: April – September 5:30pm – 7:30pm. October – March 4:30pm – 6:30pm.
- Twilight Tour admission: Regular adult $25, child (3-13) $20, under age 2 are FREE. Kama`aina/military: $5 discount off regular prices. Zoo members: $10 discount off regular prices.