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Honolulu Zoo: Fun For the Whole Family

Honolulu Zoo is one of the best places to visit, that promises fun and excitement for the entire family. Located in the vibrant Waikiki neighborhood, this 42-acre paradise invites people to embark on an adventure filled with exotic animals, engaging exhibits, and many family-friendly activities.

Brief History About The Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo is the only zoo in the United States that was set up with grants from a real-life king or queen in royal lands. In this case, it was a sovereign monarch who made it happen. Let’s now dive into it’s history.

The history of the Honolulu Zoo is really interesting. It all started when King Kalakaua decided to give 300 acres of land to the people of Hawaii in 1877.

This area first became Kapiolani Regional Park, which was named after Kalakaua’s wife, Queen Kapiolani. The king wanted to display his rare bird collection in part of this park. Little did he know this decision would lead to the creation of the Honolulu Zoo.

About The Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo has been part of Hawaii’s story for over a hundred years. In 1914, when Ben Hollinger, the first park director, took charge as the Administrator of Parks and Recreation, he came up with a fantastic idea of collecting animals for the Hawaiian kids.

It all began with a monkey, a bear, and an African elephant. Even when times got tough during The Great Depression and money was tight, the zoo somehow pulled through and kept growing.

It wasn’t until 1947 that the Honolulu Zoo officially became what it is today. The city set aside 42.5 acres of Kapiolani Park for the zoo, and a master plan was made.

In 1984, a second plan was created to organize the zoo into three zones: the African Savanna, Asian and American Tropical Forests, and Pacific Islands. This design is what shapes the Honolulu Zoo we enjoy today.

shapes the Honolulu Zoo

By 1990, the whole look of the zoo got a makeover to make it an even more exciting place for all the lucky visitors! As the years passed, more birds were added, and three big aviary complexes were built.

The Honolulu Zoo is home to some unique animals and exhibits that keep expanding, taking you on an exciting wildlife adventure!

Animals You Can See Here

The Honolulu Zoo is home to over 905 species of animals from the tropics. Here are some– elephants, gorillas, giraffes, lions, zebras, tigers, a variety of reptiles, amphibians, and even Komodo dragons – it’s like a wildlife wonderland!

about the animals

The Honolulu Zoo boasts over a thousand animals in specially designed habitats. You can find creatures roaming the African savannah to those chilling in tropical forests and the Pacific islands. It’s a diverse mix of wildlife waiting for you to explore!

Hours Of Operation

If you plan to visit the Honolulu Zoo, the entire zoo is open every day from 10 am—the zoo’s gates close at 3 pm, and the zoo grounds shut down at 4 pm. You don’t need to make any reservations to visit the place.

What Can You Find Inside The Zoo?

For those exploring with wheels, the zoo is wheelchair accessible, with paved walkways all around. And if you or the little ones need a break, the zoo has playgrounds, cafes, and snack bars to keep everyone happy. Don’t miss the cool giant hippo and giraffe sculptures – they’re a hit with the kids!

exploring with wheels

The zoo has ample space inside, so if you want to organize a birthday party, you can easily do it here among nature and tropical animals. Try a private morning safari or twilight tours for a memorable experience if time permits.

If you can’t go to the zoo in person, you can still experience it online. Honolulu Zoo offers virtual activities such as short videos, virtual tours, and live webcams. You can also have a Zoom chat with a zookeeper to discover more about the animals.

Zoo Etiquette You Must Follow

Zoo Etiquette

When you go to the zoo, remember it’s the animals’ only home, so always keep these things in mind:

• Talk quietly
• Don’t tease or throw things
• Don’t climb fences
• Don’t give the animals food
• Stay on the paths, and don’t wander off
• Don’t destroy the plants
• Don’t play loud music
• Don’t drink or smoke inside the premises

These are just basic etiquettes to follow. To know more about it in detail, visit their official page.


Although it’s a small zoo, it has ample space for parking your vehicles. The zoo parking lot entrance is from Kapahulu Avenue.


It’s metered parking with a fee of $1.50 per hour, and the maximum time allowed at once is 4 hours. The payment machines accept credit cards, bills, and coins, but please ensure you have exact change.

If you don’t want to pay, you can park your cars or scooters in the Waikiki Shell parking space on Monsarrat Avenue.

They also have discounts for locals (kamaaina) and military folks (keep your IDs handy). Service animals are openly welcome.

If you need a stroller or wheelchair, you can rent one.


How did the Honolulu Zoo originate?

King Kalakaua donated 300 acres of land in 1877 to create Kapiolani Regional Park. The zoo evolved from the king’s desire to display his rare bird collection in a section of the park.

What are the zoo’s hours of operation?

The zoo is open every day from 10 am to 3 pm.

Are there options for free parking?

Yes, visitors can park for free in the Waikiki Shell parking lot on Monsarrat Avenue.


The Honolulu Zoo is great for families to enjoy a day in Waikiki. Beyond just showcasing animals, the zoo is committed to conservation. Their sincere efforts contribute to preserving endangered species in Hawaii and globally. So, if you still haven’t planned to go here, we suggest you don’t miss out on this uniqueness!


  • Elizabeth L

    Aloha! I’m Elizabeth L. At LiveYourAloha, I am responsible for writing about sightseeing tours and Hawaiian culture. For the last 12 years, I’ve been working as a tour guide in Hawaii. It’s been a great way to see the world and learn about new cultures. I love nature and the outdoors, and have even climbed two of the world’s highest peaks! Making connections and showing my visitors the incredible beauty of these beautiful islands is a passion of mine. When I’m not out giving tours, you’ll likely find me on an invigorating hike or enjoying local cuisine on the beach.