Fresno Chaffee Zoo

894 W Belmont Ave
Fresno CA 93728
259 Reviews
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Opening Hours

  • Mon: 9am-4pm
  • Tue: 9am-4pm
  • Wed: 9am-4pm
  • Thu: 9am-4pm
  • Fri: 9am-4pm
  • Sat: 9am-5pm
  • Sun: 9am-5pm

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What started in the early 1900s as a makeshift dumping ground for unwanted pets, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo has since evolved into nearly 20 acres of beautiful landscaping, modern animal care and interactive wildlife preservation awareness efforts. Every member of the family will find something they love at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

Parking and public transportation at Fresno Chaffee Zoo
The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is located in Roeding Regional Park so there is a $5 per car fee charged by the city of Fresno to enter. Once inside there is ample paved parking available. If you prefer public transportation, catching the bus is a great option. The Fresno Area Express Route 33 runs 7 days a week and has a stop at the front entrance to the zoo.

Best and worst time to go to Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Although open year round, the hours vary by season so it's always a good idea to call ahead. There are various seasonal special events offered too, from Zoo Summer Camp to Ice Cream Zoofari, making the experience exciting and new to visitors each time they come. A favorite among locals is the Zoo Lights event offered in the winter. Although it has a separate admission fee, Zoo Lights offers visitors a chance to enjoy the nocturnal habits of the animals after dark, when the grounds have been transformed into a winter wonderland between exhibits. Lit by the twinkling glow of thousands of holiday lights, Christmas trees and holiday displays, guests are treated to cookies and hot coco as well as a visit from Santa Claus himself.

Admission to Fresno Chaffee Zoo
The admission fees (like the prices of just about everything at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo) are very reasonable. Adult tickets are only $7 and children ages 2-11 are $3.50 (under 2 are free). Discounts are offered for seniors, as well as special group rates. Be sure to bring extra funds for snacks, souvenirs and some of the fun interactive animal experiences too.

Must see/do at Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Aside from the traditional zoo activities like scheduled zookeeper animal feedings and a petting zoo (be sure to say hi to Buttercup, the calf) Fresno Chaffee Zoo also gives visitors unique opportunities to interact with some of the animals. You can hand-feed and take pictures with the giraffes at their feeding station, pet a stingray in Stingray Bay and come face-to-face with a Sea Lion in Sea Lion Cove. Some activities are free but the ones that have an additional charge are very affordably priced (usually around $2), making Fresno Chaffee Zoo a great destination for families.

Other places to visit near Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Back in the 1920's a Sicilian immigrant by the name of Baldassare Forestiere took it upon himself to excavate the property of his Fresno home to replicate the ancient underground catacombs he had admired as a boy. When he passed away in 1946, he left what is now the Forestiere Underground Gardens: 10 acres of subterranean rooms, courtyards and passageways with their own unique micro-climates and filled with incredible architectural details and fruit-bearing plants. The site has been deemed a California State Landmark, a Fresno City and County Historical Site, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was deemed one of "10 of the world's coolest underground wonders" by CNN and is featured in Life Magazine's book Seeing is Believing: Amazing People and Places From Around The World. It's definitely worth the detour if you're in the Fresno area.

Insider tip for visitors to Fresno Chaffee Zoo
If visiting during the month of October, get the kids into costume and swing into Fresno Chaffee Zoo for Zoo Boo. A favorite event among local families and travelers alike, Zoo Boo offers children a safe and fun environment to show off their Halloween costumes (there's even a contest!), get in a little extra trick-or-treating and still enjoy the educational opportunities offered by an outing to the zoo. Kids get to meet some of their favorite film and cartoon characters, take part in fun activities, and enjoy carnival games, live music and delicious food.

Author's bio: Ann Milligan is a wife, mom, author, artist and California native. She can often be found painting the local wildflowers, dancing with her kids, and nom-nom-noming.