Sayre Marriott

Written by Sayre Marriott

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


The Virginia Zoo, located in Norfolk, Virginia, is a popular destination for animal lovers and nature enthusiasts of all ages. With its rich history and diverse collection of animals from around the world, the zoo offers a unique and exciting experience for visitors.

In this article, we will uncover 16 intriguing facts about the Virginia Zoo that will amaze and fascinate you. From its origins as a small collection of native species to its expansion into a world-class zoo, the Virginia Zoo has a long and fascinating history.

So get ready to embark on a virtual safari as we explore the remarkable facts and highlights of the Virginia Zoo!

Key Takeaways:

  • The Virginia Zoo, established in 1900, is the oldest zoo in Virginia, committed to conservation and providing a home for over 700 animals from around the world.
  • Visitors can enjoy up-close encounters with animals, educational programs, and seasonal events at the beautifully renovated Virginia Zoo, offering a fun and educational experience for all ages.
Table of Contents

A Historic Legacy

The Virginia Zoo, established in 1900, holds the distinction of being the oldest zoo in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It has a long-standing history of conservation and public engagement that spans over a century.

A Zoo in the Park

Situated within the lush confines of Lafayette Park, the Virginia Zoo encompasses 53 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. It provides a tranquil and natural setting for both the animals and visitors.

Conservation-Oriented Efforts

The Virginia Zoo is deeply committed to conservation efforts and engages in various projects to protect endangered species. Through partnerships with international conservation organizations, it actively participates in crucial breeding and reintroduction programs.

Up-Close Animal Encounters

Visitors to the Virginia Zoo have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the animals. Special experiences, such as giraffe feeding and encounters with ambassador animals, allow for unforgettable moments of connection with the wildlife.

A Global Animal Collection

The zoo boasts an impressive collection of over 700 animals from around the world. From majestic lions to cheeky monkeys, it showcases a diverse range of species that represent various continents and ecosystems.

A Home for Endangered Species

In line with its commitment to conservation, the Virginia Zoo plays an active role in providing a safe haven for endangered species. With dedicated habitats and expert care, it contributes to the survival of animals on the brink of extinction.

The Trails of Africa

The Virginia Zoo is home to the incredible “Trails of Africa” exhibit, which highlights the majestic animals of the continent. Here, visitors can observe elephants, rhinos, and other species in a naturalistic setting that mimics their native habitat.

Indigenous Wildlife of Virginia

The zoo also focuses on showcasing the indigenous wildlife of Virginia. Through exhibits like the “World of Reptiles,” visitors can learn about the fascinating reptiles and amphibians that call the state their home.

A Thriving Primate Collection

Primate enthusiasts will be delighted by the Virginia Zoo’s extensive collection of primates. From playful lemurs to agile gibbons, these intelligent creatures captivate visitors with their social behaviors and incredible agility.

Conservation Education Programs

The Virginia Zoo goes beyond just exhibiting animals; it is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of conservation. Through its educational programs, visitors can learn about wildlife conservation, sustainability, and the impact of human activities on ecosystems.

Wild Art

The Virginia Zoo celebrates the creative talents of both animals and humans through its “Wild Art” program. Some of the resident animals participate in painting sessions, creating beautiful and unique artworks that are often sold to raise funds for conservation initiatives.

Seasonal Events

Throughout the year, the Virginia Zoo hosts a variety of exciting events for visitors of all ages to enjoy. From Boo at the Zoo during Halloween to the popular ZooLights during the festive season, there’s always something special happening at the zoo.

An Ample Playground

For little adventurers, the Virginia Zoo offers a sprawling playground where they can burn off energy while learning about nature. With slides, climbing structures, and interactive elements, it provides a fun-filled experience for kids.

Behind-the-Scenes Tours

For a unique and immersive experience, the Virginia Zoo offers behind-the-scenes tours that grant visitors an exclusive glimpse into the inner workings of the zoo. These tours provide an in-depth understanding of animal care, conservation efforts, and the challenges of running a modern zoo.

Nature Play Area

The zoo features a nature play area where children can engage in unstructured outdoor play. This innovative space encourages kids to explore and connect with nature, fostering a love for the environment and wildlife.

A Beautifully Renovated Zoo

The Virginia Zoo has undergone significant renovations in recent years, enhancing the visitor experience and the quality of life for the animals. With state-of-the-art exhibits and improved facilities, it offers a comfortable and enjoyable environment for both humans and animals.

The Virginia Zoo is a remarkable destination that combines entertainment, education, and conservation. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, a family seeking adventure, or someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world, this zoo has something for everyone. Plan your visit to the Virginia Zoo and immerse yourself in the wonders of wildlife.


The Virginia Zoo is a fascinating destination for animal lovers of all ages. With its diverse collection of wildlife, engaging exhibits, and commitment to conservation, it offers a unique and educational experience for visitors.As one of the top attractions in Virginia, the zoo provides an opportunity to get up close and personal with a wide range of animals, from majestic lions to playful otters. The impressive array of exhibits and interactive programs ensure that there is something for everyone to enjoy and learn from.Whether you’re a local looking for a day out or a tourist exploring the beauty of Virginia, a visit to the Virginia Zoo is sure to leave a lasting impression. So pack your camera, grab your walking shoes, and embark on a memorable adventure through the animal kingdom at the Virginia Zoo.


Q: What are the opening hours of the Virginia Zoo?

A: The Virginia Zoo is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays and weekends, with the last admission being at 4:00 PM.

Q: Are there any discounts available for tickets?

A: Yes, the zoo offers discounts for seniors, military personnel, and students. Additionally, there are membership options available for frequent visitors.

Q: Is parking available at the Virginia Zoo?

A: Yes, there is ample parking available at the zoo. Visitors can park their vehicles in the designated parking areas on-site.

Q: Are there any dining options within the zoo?

A: Yes, the Virginia Zoo has a café where visitors can grab a bite to eat. Guests are also allowed to bring their own food and have a picnic in the designated picnic areas.

Q: Are strollers and wheelchairs available for rent?

A: Yes, strollers and wheelchairs are available for rent at the zoo. These can be rented at the front gate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Q: Can I bring my pet to the Virginia Zoo?

A: No, pets are not allowed inside the zoo for the safety of both the animals and visitors. However, service animals are permitted.

Curious about other captivating zoos and fascinating places? Explore Prague Zoo's impressive animal conservation efforts, discover Norfolk's rich history and culture, or learn about Martin Kratt's passion for educational programs that inspire future generations. Each destination offers unique experiences and insights, making them must-visit spots for anyone seeking to broaden their horizons and appreciate the wonders of our world. So why not embark on a virtual journey today and uncover the intriguing facts that await you?

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