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Idaho Falls Zoo: Experience the "Best Little Zoo in the West"

Spending a day at the zoo is fun for the whole family. No matter your age, the zoo has something that will fascinate you⁠—whether it’s a species of animal, their enclosure, or what they eat! You don’t have to be an animal lover to enjoy the zoo, but chances are high that you’ll leave with a smile on your face.

The Idaho Falls Zoo is home to more than 300 individual animals which represent 130 species from around the world, which is why its nickname is the “best little zoo in the west.” It has been a part of the community since 1935 and was the first zoo in Idaho to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The zoo is seasonal, open from mid-April to mid-October, depending on weather conditions.

COVID-19 Response

The Idaho Falls Zoo is up and running for the season. Despite being closed an extra month due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, they opened on May 16 and are now in full swing. While the virus kept the zoo from opening on schedule, it didn’t keep them from having fun on Facebook! They posted almost daily with photos and videos of the animals at the zoo, educational tidbits from their zookeepers and staff, and fun crafts! Zoo hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily. Community members are excited to have a public space they can enjoy together.

Due to COVID-19, the zoo has made some changes to implement more safety measures to keep guests and staff healthy. The measures listed on their site include:

  • The zoo entrance is being modified to accommodate social distancing and the number of people inside the zoo at any one time will be limited. See the zoo’s social media feeds on Facebook, Instagram, and the zoo’s website for the most up-to-date information.
  • The zoo gift shop will be closed until further notice. However, you can still get those great zoo souvenirs! Select merchandise will be available via a temporary mobile gift shop near the front of the zoo.
  • While in the zoo, patrons are expected to respect social distancing at all times and remain at least 6 feet away from other zoo guests to which they are not related.
  • All in-person education programs including EdZOOcation camps and classes, the Penguin Interaction Program, Meet a Zookeeper talks, Behind the Scenes tours, and public penguin feedings will be canceled until further notice.
  • Playground-type structures including the tiger and lion statues, lion drinking fountain and “Eggsperience” play area will be closed to the public.
  • Zoo representatives will wear masks whenever they’re in direct contact with the public. Zoo guests are encouraged, but not required, to wear masks.
  • For the safety of the animals as well as visitors, the goat yard and petting areas of the Children’s Zoo will also be closed to the public. However, guests are still encouraged to walk around the Children’s Zoo and enjoy seeing those animals.
  • NOTE: Zoo memberships will ONLY be available for purchase online, not at admissions. We hope you’ll support your zoo by purchasing a membership online. Once your online purchase has been verified, we’ll mail your membership packet to you.
  • If your zoo membership expired between January and May 2020 and you haven’t yet been able to renew it, your zoo will honor it through May 31, 2020. But, now is the time to renew. Please go online and complete your renewal before June 1 to continue your uninterrupted access to the zoo.
  • Call (208) 612-8420 if you have questions or problems when purchasing memberships. Leave a message if your call isn’t answered so we can better serve you.

Even with the new rules, the Idaho Falls Zoo is still a fun place to enjoy the day and see some of your favorite animals. You can support and enjoy the zoo this summer, and do so safely!

New Season, New App

While no one could have predicted a worldwide pandemic, the Idaho Falls Zoo surprised themselves by having their new app, which had been in the works for about a year, ready to launch and assist guests. The app takes visitors behind the scenes to learn more about the animals at the zoo. With keeper talks being canceled due to COVID-19, this app helps to still give guests an educational experience during their visit. The app is free, though if you enjoy it, send your appreciation by donating to support the zoo.

The animals featured on the app are the Golden Lion Tamarins, which are endangered, Mueller’s Grey Gibbons, of which only 18 are in the U.S., African penguins, African lions, red-ruffed lemurs, snow leopard, wallabies, Aldabra tortoises, and the Chilean flamingos. You can watch videos to learn more about each species and the personalities of the animals at the Idaho Falls Zoo. The app also answers commonly asked questions about each animal they feature.

The section on snow leopards on the app tells us about the two leopards they have in their exhibit, Layan and Pandora. This pair of leopards are quite young, with Layan, the male, born in 2016, and Pandora, the female, born in 2018. These two leopards have been placed together as a breeding pair to help stimulate the snow leopard population.

You can learn more stories like these by downloading the Idaho Falls zoo app! You can also take a look at the behind the scenes of the zoo by watching videos on and reading about the zoo hospital, veterinarian, and what it means to be AZA-accredited.

Zoo Exhibits

To help visitors learn more about the zoo’s animals and where they come from, the Idaho Falls Zoo is made up of six sections, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Guinea, North America, South America, and the children’s zoo.


You can go on an African Safari right in the Idaho Falls Zoo. Toward the back of the zoo are the African animal exhibits. Here you’ll find lions, tortoises, zebras, different types of birds, and more! Using your app, you can learn more about the male lion, Hondo. One interesting thing about Hondo is that he needed extra medical attention as a cub and needed to be away from his family. Since he still needed social time, a Great Pyrenees dog, Justice, helped raise him. You can even watch a video of Hondo and Justice playing together on the app! Hondo isn’t a cub anymore, but you can visit the Africa exhibits to learn more about him and our other animal and feathered friends living there.


Next to the African exhibits are Asian animals. Here you’ll see tigers, snow leopards, sloth bears, red-crowned cranes, and red pandas. Each exhibit has exactly what the animals like and need to survive and enjoy their environment. In the Asian section, you might also spot the family of Grey Gibbons. Grey Gibbons are primates who typically reside in the rainforest. Four of the eighteen Grey Gibbons in the United States are in Idaho Falls, the dad, Sterling, mother, Shannon, and two kids, Sid and Sahra. You can learn more about their behavior, diet, and conservation by visiting their exhibit at the zoo.

Australia & New Guinea

Ready to head down under? Travel to Australia and New Guinea by visiting their area in the middle of the Idaho Falls Zoo. This section of the zoo will amaze you with the sounds and structures of Australia and New Guinea. You’ll hear the singing dogs of New Guinea and the laughs of the kookaburras. As you walk around the area, you’ll see emus, wallabies, and other animals native to the area. Did you know that a group of wallabies is called a mob? You can learn fun facts like that about the animals by using the zoo’s app during your tour.

North America

The North America portion of the zoo may remind you of home...though you probably don’t have alligators or otters in your backyard. The North America portion of the zoo is close to the entrance, on the right of the Australian exhibit. You’ll see lots of winged creatures in this exhibit, like pelicans, golden eagles, swans, and vultures. Grab your bird-watching binoculars and see how many types of birds you can spot!

South America

You can experience the vibrant colors of South America in the Patagonia section of the Idaho Falls Zoo. Patagonia is a region in South America, so the name fits the exhibit section quite well. The animals in these exhibits include flamingos, Golden Lion Tamarin, and Cotton-top Tamarins. You’ll have to visit the Primate Discovery Center to meet the Tamarin monkeys, though. There are also different types of birds, including Macaws, in the South American section. Macaws are part of the parrot family, so they have gorgeous colored feathers. You might spot Military Macaws with primarily green feathers, Scarlet-Macaws with lots of red feathers, or Blue and Yellow Macaws… I’m sure you can guess what colors they are.

Children's Zoo

Have your kids been acting like animals recently? While the Children’s Zoo is currently closed for petting and playing due to COVID-19, you can still watch the exotic farm animals from all over the world during your visit. Typically, though, kids can act like animals with the animals as they pet and play with alpacas, sheep, llamas, goats, pigs, donkeys, and yaks!

Plan Your Visit

You can use the Idaho Falls Zoo website to help plan your visit to the zoo. They have ticket costs, directions, zoo policies, contact information, and other resources to aid you in planning a fun day at the zoo. Plan on spending about an hour and a half at the “best little zoo in the west,” though you will probably want to stay longer.

You can also learn more about volunteering, conservation, sponsoring, donating, and other ways you can help support the zoo on their site. One of the best ways you can help the zoo is by sharing the experience with your friends and family!

A day at the zoo is one of the best ways to spend your summer. At the Idaho Falls Zoo, you can be educated and entertained at the same time. You’ll enjoy watching some of your favorite wildlife and learning about others. Plan your Idaho Falls Zoo adventure today and visit soon!

Hannah Anderson

About the author

Hannah Anderson

Hannah Anderson, a Nevada native, moved to Idaho four years ago to study at Brigham Young University-Idaho where she earned a bachelor's degree in communication. She enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, and exploring all that Idaho has to offer.

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