Fresno’s Beloved Chaffee Zoo

As I have been looking over my previous posts the last few weeks I couldn’t believe that I had yet to write about Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo. I have definitely shared pictures from our visits on Instagram but I haven’t taken the time to post… and now as I am writing I realize why. What can I possibly say to do justice to this treasure of Fresno? Nevertheless, it is time that I try! 🙂

We had been members at the zoo since the kids were born. I took them monthly during my two years home with them because it is a perfect little outing that you can make as little or as much out of as you like. We would often just go for a couple of hours and be home in time for nap. It was ideal for pushing a baby around in a stroller while a toddler stretched his independence and ran a little ways ahead on the open, shaded, and confined paths. Weekdays in the fall and winter are not busy and the zoo is a wonderful way to get out of the house if you’re home with the kids. We highly recommend memberships if you stay at home with the littles. The zoo gets really busy during the week in the spring because of field trips so we would usually avoid going at this time. However, empty or crowded, the zoo is always a great outing!

Now that I am back at work and the kids are in preschool, we have opted to not get a membership and just pay for a couple of really nice experiences, which is exactly what we had this past Sunday. Perhaps it was a fluke but I actually think we stumbled on a perfect time to visit the zoo. Weekends are often busy and it gets so hot in the summer afternoons so we decided to go early. We discovered that the zoo actually opens at 8:30 (we normally wouldn’t get there until 9:30 or 10) so we made a push and got there at 8:45. The temperature was perfect and the parking lot was empty. And, once we got into the zoo we were blown away by the activity of the animals. Something we had never seen before.

We started in African Adventure and found the cheetahs strolling around the perimeter of their area. When we got to the observation window they walked back and forth for us to see them up close. The kids were in awe (and so were we) of these beautiful giant cats less than two feet away! We also found lots of the animals moving about to get to their breakfasts.

African Adventure is such a beautiful part of the park. We usually spend most of our time there. We are also so excited for the next big project: Kingdoms of Asia, which is projected to open in 2021. After seeing the transformation of the African area, I am certain this next project is going to be amazing!

That is another thing that strikes me about the zoo every time we visit. The landscaping is so beautiful, lush, and really adds to whatever area of the zoo you are visiting. Even on the hottest Fresno days, there is plenty of shade and cooling greenery.

If you haven’t visited lately, we highly recommend you plan a visit by October because the Zoorassic Park exhibit is just fantastic! It is an additional fee but well worth it. Do be warned that the dinosaurs move and make sounds so it can be a little scary for little ones. We just continued to remind Bridget that they were only robots and she stayed close to Rob. Kellan, on the other hand, thought it was absolutely the COOLEST! And once we were out, Bridget was very proud of her bravery. 😉

Rarely do we spend an entire day at the zoo and see everything because we know we’ll return. So we just catch our favorites and what ever strikes us that day. The faves that we never skip: feeding the giraffes at Twiga Terrace, African Adventure, Sea Lion Cove, and Wilderness Falls. Each area is really set up for you to take your time and enjoy with lots of seating and shade.

Twiga Terrace ($2 to feed the giraffes)
Under water viewing area at Sea Lion Cove.
Wilderness Falls is a splash area that is perfect for the hot Valley summers.

A few things on our Zoo-To-Do list: Zoo Boo and Zoo Lights, which are special holiday events that we may check out this year now that the kids are a little older. And, we have heard rave reviews about Zoo Camp. It hasn’t worked with our schedules thus far, but as the kids get older they offer full day camps that we will definitely be taking advantage of in the future.

Finally, I think it’s important to mention that the Fresno Chaffee Zoo has the mission of conservation and helping aid in protecting endangered species. For more on this, check out their website.

If you are one of the few Central Valley residents that hasn’t visited the zoo in the last few years or if you live somewhere else but are planning a visit to the Fresno area, I highly recommend you check it out. It truly is a one of the things that makes us proud to live in Fresno.


  1. I totally enjoyed reading your blog Kendall. This was the first one I read and certainly will not the last. Can’t wait to read more and discover other places a mom can take her family to. Thanks for having so many pictures to capture the beauty of your visits. It makes it even more enticing to go see these places in person.

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