Hilo Zoo: 
Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo
Big Island of Hawaii

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Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo – One of Hilo’s Unique Attractions

You don’t have to be a kid to love the zoo. And Hilo is home to a unique zoo, the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo.

What makes it unique?

The Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo is the only tropical rainforest zoo in the United States. Under a canopy of tropical vegetation it is home to 159 mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. The zoo is a public facility under the administration of the County of Hawai`i’s Department of Parks and Recreation. We get a lot of help from our volunteer friends, The Friends of the Zoo.

Admission is free.

Where is the zoo and when can I visit?

The zoo is located off the Volcano-bound side of Highway 11, about four miles from downtown Hilo. Follow the signs saying Pana’ewa Zoo.

The zoo is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Christmas and New Year’s Day.

One of the zoo’s star attractions

Namaste, a white Bengal tiger, holds court in his own one-acre enclosure which features a swamp where he loves to swim, scratching posts and a tetherball. He currently weighs in at over 500 pounds.

When is a good time to visit the zoo?

Anytime, but if you visit at 3:30 p. m. you can watch Namaste feeding on his dinner. Male tigers are solitary animals; so don’t worry about his lack of another tiger to keep him company. He enjoys seeing the hundreds of visitors who flock to the zoo every day.

What’s new at the zoo?

A new attraction is the Primadome, a domed structure that is the daytime playground for four Black-handed Spider Monkeys. The Primadome is complete with a tree and swinging vines. (They are really used fire hoses and the monkeys love them).

When is a good time to check out the Primadome?

The monkeys happily enter the dome at 9:30 and return to their night house at 3:15, much to the delight of visitors. Other primates include a Colobus named "Curly" and four Squirrel monkeys.

Pana’ewa is home to more than 80 animal species

The other rare creatures include Sloths, a pygmy hippo, whistling tree ducks, toucans, lemurs and a pair of giant anteaters, Spike and his girlfriend Penny Ant-E.

In addition to exotic animals the Zoo has native Hawaiian creatures. Hawaiian Gallinules, Hawaiian Hawk and Nene (Hawai`i’s state bird) are on exhibit.

Petting Zoo for the wee ones

A Petting Zoo is open on Saturdays from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. In addition to farm animals, an iguana, a Hawaiian Hawk, a Nene, Mongoose and Jill the Black Swan are part of the Petting Zoo.

A word about rainforests and their creatures

Rainforests are the oldest ecosystem on earth and each animal or plant has developed unique methods of survival. Tiny Dart Frogs are able to survive as their bright colors warn other animals that they are poisonous. (Yes, we do have Dart Frogs on exhibit). Although Sloths are slow moving mammals in the forest canopy they are camouflaged with algae to blend in with the green leaves.

The Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo is also a botanical garden

For visitors interested in flora, the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo offers an extensive collection of 100 varieties of palms, as well as tropical rhododendrons, orchids and bamboo.. Various plant clubs have lovingly planted and tended the flora on the zoo grounds, contributing immeasurably to the park’s ambience.

As you enter the zoo gates you can see the gorgeous pond. Frogs like to perch on the giant Amazon water lily that looms mysteriously on the pond’s surface.

The zoo is very user friendly

We know that because the guest book at the zoo gates is full of positive feedback from visitors, who hale from near and far.

Bring a picnic lunch or stroll with the peacocks in the zoo’s paths.

If it rains, no worries. You can borrow one of the zoo’s many umbrellas. After all,

it is a Rainforest.

Latest fun thing to do at the zoo - mark your calendar

Christmas at the Zoo is a Family Fun Day on Saturday December 18 9:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. Come watch the animals receive special treats and presents throughout the day. The spider monkeys will receive their presents at 9:30 but the fun will last all day.

Hilo Theater Productions will present "The King of the Oxen" at 10:30 and 2:30 with a visit from Santa and caroling after each performance.

Entertainment includes Terry the Tiger, games and Christmas crafts.

For further information, call the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo at 959-7224 or check out www.hilozoo.com




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