The story

Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Fresno Chaffee Zoo, serves the San Joaquin Valley and is situated inside the Roeding Park in Fresno, California. Today it is commonly known as the Chaffee Zoo.Roeding Park Zoo opened in 1908 with two bears and roughly 50 birds. The California zoo saw its real growth in the 1940s and 1950s. Later the Fresno Zoological Society was formed to support and create interest in the development of the Zoo and to raise funds for its improvements.Dr. In 1978, the Park Zoo (Trust) Fund was established to control the revenue received from the operation and to use the fund wisely for the improvement of the zoo.The world’s first computer-controlled reptile exhibit, the Edward A. In addition, various educational programs were also organized by the Education Committee of the Zoo Society set up in 1971.New and advanced facilities and major renovations were made during the 1980s. The Zoo membership program was also started to raise funds.Fresno Chaffee Zoo arranges family adventures and other entertainment events, including Winged Wonders Bird Show. Chaffee Zoo continues to be the most popular attraction in the city of Fresno and in Central California.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo

What started as a rescue centre for unwanted pets and animals has now grown into a nationwide recognised wildlife park accommodating over 190 species of animals, from tigers, giraffe to bears and orangutans. The place had its origins around 1905 and is spread over an area of 39 acres. One of the popular adventure destinations among tourists, the park is known for its variety of attractions including dino dig, african adventure, sea lion cove or stingray bay. Feed the giraffe, go for the games or just stroll through the zoo, rest assured to enjoy some quality time here.


Opening and Competition Edit

Playland was opened in 1955, six weeks before Disneyland in Anaheim. Local Rotary Clubs, acting upon a proposal by Dr. Joe Logan, then-president of the North Fresno Rotary, teamed up to raise money and build the park. That first day, 14,000 ride tickets were sold, at 10 cents each, and the construction debt was repaid within three years. [3] Playland was much smaller in scope and size than Disneyland, however, and because it offered a cheaper alternative, it was capable of drawing in above 250,000 guests in its debut season. [2]

Playland was built on the southwest corner of Roeding Park, bordered to the west by California State Route 99. At the time, Fresno Chaffee Zoo was small but popular, and building an amusement park was seen as a good way to capitalize on the zoo's popularity and contribute to the city's culture and raise funds for public projects. At the time of opening, Playland offered a merry-go-round, small roller coaster, and a miniature diesel train that travelled around Lake Washington, an artificial pond in which guests could swim in. Seven years later, Storyland was built on the other side of Lake Washington, and the diesel train system was connected with a second station, so passengers could travel between the parks freely.

Because the park was owned and operated by the various Fresno Rotary Clubs, profits from the amusement park were planted back into the community by the Rotary Playland board of directors. It was Playland money that, in 1964, bought 50 acres of extra land to help form Woodward Park. More cash went toward the Zoo’s reptile house, a new exhibit for Nosey the elephant (the zoo's first elephant who had previously been held in a concrete and steel cage), land for Logan Park, and the Shinzen Friendship Garden.

Playland and Storyland had little room to grow, because they were on the outer edge of Roeding Park. The zoo, however, had plenty of room to grow. This rivalry between Playland and the Zoo grew, forging an intimate business connection between the Rotary Clubs who operated Playland and Storyland. They formed the Playland and Storyland Board in order to better coordinate the two parks' interests.

After decades of growth by the Zoo, it soon eclipsed Playland and Storyland in attendance, and the parks became unprofitable. Fresno Rotary kept the parks running as a part of Fresno history to be maintained and operated at a cost.

Renovation and Re-Opening Edit

After years of decline, Playland and Storyland did not open for its 2015 season. It was announced by Daniel Leith, a Playland and Storyland board member, who stated that they would remain closed until they had gathered enough funds to repair tree-damaged sidewalks and irrigation systems, to improve landscape, attractions and bathrooms, and cover operations costs at a time when attendance was lagging. At the time, officials of the nonprofit that runs Fresno Chaffee Zoo, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo Corp., confirmed that they were in talks to possibly acquire both Playland and Storyland. However, while the Zoo was under renovation and expansion through funds from Measure Z, the corporation would not have been allowed to use any of those funds to assist the neighboring parks. [4] [1]

When The Fresno Bee reported on Playland's closure for the 2015 season, and its mounting problems with funding, the news organization was inundated with a flood of local support throughout the year. On July 6, a letter to the editor by Cathy Caples was published that suggested that local residents turning 60 years old donate $60 to the Save Storyland campaign, as it was also Playland's 60th birthday. [5] It was also suggested that the County of Fresno institute a "Storyland/Playland tax", a sales tax meant to send funds directly to the park itself. [6] An editorial published in the Fresno Bee in 2015 recounted the history of both Playland and Storyland and asked for local donations. [3]

In September of 2015, Elaine Robles-McGraw, Storyland's volunteer operational director, announced that Storyland and Playland had received enough funding to reopen for the 2016 season. The Playland and Storyland Board also announced that they would also now be working alongside the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in cross promotions, such as offering discounts and planning special event days around Halloween and Christmas to mirror zoo’s schedule.

COVID-19 Pandemic Edit

In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Playland, Storyland, and the Fresno Chaffee Zoo shut down. On June 22, the zoo reopened, but per Governor Gavin Newsom's executive order on July 13, 2020, [7] the zoo is only open for outdoor recreation, and all indoor facilities remain closed.

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A look back at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo's history as they celebrate 90th anniversary

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For 90 years, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo has delighted millions across the Central Valley and beyond.

New exhibits like African Adventure bring in new people while crowd favorites like elephants keep others coming back for more.

Chief marketing and development officer Alisha Anderson says they have a lot to be proud of.

"We are standing here in the middle of this beautiful world-class zoo because our community loves our zoo so much," she said.

But it hasn't always looked that way.

When it all started back in 1903 things were very different.

The Roeding family donated 75 acres of land for a zoo and park. In 1929, the Roeding Park zoo opened.

It was small and some of the animals included unwanted pets kept in make-shift cages.

"A lot of birds and a few bears were kind of the more traditional zoo animals that you saw and then within about 20 to 30 years then you started to see more animals like we know today," Anderson said.

Some animals were housed in log cabin type exhibits one which still stands near the entrance of the park.

In the late 1940s, the community came together to bring in a new addition. The Fresno Rotary and thousands of school children raised money to purchase "Nosey" the elephant.

"There was even a parade walking Nosey down the streets to come to the zoo, very different things that we don't see these days," Anderson said.

Slowly the zoo continued to grow and change until the early 2000s. Lack of funds put the zoo in jeopardy of losing its accreditation and closing its doors. All that changed when Measure Z was passed by voters in 2004.

Over the last 10 years, it's generated more than $110 million. It's already funded two big expansions, Sea Lion Cove and African Adventure.

"The community rallied together and said no way, we are not going to lose this. Now when you look around and see our world-class zoo, that is what our community did for us," Anderson said.

And the zoo's future continues to look bright.

The next big expansion is Kingdoms of Asia. Officials hope to break ground by the end of this 2019.

Over the next 10 to 15 years they want to establish a new entrance and bring back the hippos via the African river exhibit.

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo has existed in one form or another since the early 1900’s. It started as a location to drop off unwanted pets. In 1965, Paul Chaffee was hired as the zoo’s first director and the zoo grew considerably under his supervision. It later took on his name. In 2005, an influx of tax dollars allowed the zoo to further expand into the wonderful facility that exists today.

The zoo is accredited with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums which requires high standards in animal care, conservation, and safety. They are also part of the Saving Animals from Extinction Initiative that focuses on saving the most endangered species of animals.

  • History 1
  • Species at Fresno Chaffee Zoo 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

The zoo was formed some time around 1908. The first animals were largely unwanted pets which had been donated by Sezer Tamcakir. The earliest zoo record describes a collection consisting of two bears and around fifty birds of various species. An amphitheater was built. Bears, local cats, hoof stock, and birds were added to the Zoo and housed in log cabin type exhibits. [3] The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) officially recognized the park opening in 1929 as the Roeding Park Zoo.

The zoo grew substantially in the 1940s and 1950s, with 100 animals and more birds by 1947. The zoo's first foreman, Eldon "Curly" Blocker, was hired from the San Diego Zoo. In 1949 the zoo's Asian elephant Nosey (a name determined by a city-wide "Name-the-Elephant" Contest) was acquired, with help from the Fresno Rotary Club. Her arrival coincided with Fresno's "49ers Days Rodeo Parade", and Nosey's presence in that parade was popular enough to spawn the creation of the Fresno Zoological Society, which would create interest in the zoo and provide fundraising mechanisms for years to come.

In the 1950s ten large exhibits were added to the zoo grounds, with monkeys, sea lions, camels, giraffes, an African bird aviary, a polar bear habitat, and on-site feed and medical compounds. The zoo became an institutional member of the AZA in 1957.

In the 1960s the park's grounds were fenced off in response to increased vandalism, a 25 cent admission fee was implemented, and a Parks Zoo Admissions Trust Fund was established to provide a link between the zoo and the Fresno City Council. In 1965 Paul Chaffee was hired as the zoo's first director and veterinarian, and the responsibility for management were transferred from the Zoo Society to the director. In the late 1960s the animal exhibits were renovated, with climate control being added to increase the comfort of the animals. Nutritional programs were re-evaluated and improved, which extended the lifespans of the animals. In 1967 the large bird of prey exhibit was constructed, and in 1968 a master plan for future development was drafted.

The Zoo's area expanded by a third, and new exhibits featuring bison, elk, and prairie dogs were added. In 1976, in honor of the American Bicentennial Celebration, the park's grizzly bear facility was expanded. In 1978 the Park Zoo Trust Fund (distinct from the Zoo Admissions Trust Fund) was established to make sure a portion of concession sales were used to improve the zoo. This freed the Zoo from having to approve a budget with the City Council. In 1979 the Zoo added the Edward A. Kane Reptile House, the world's first computer-controlled reptile habitat.

In 1982 Nosey the Elephant's habitat was renovated and three new elephants were brought in. A red wolf exhibit known as Wolf Woods was added in 1984, and the Doris and Karl Falk Wildlife Education Center was completed and became the backbone of the zoo's Educational Center. In 1985 the Zoo's name changed from the Roeding Park Zoo to the Fresno Zoo. In 1988 the Zoo's walkthrough rainforest exhibit was added. 1989 saw the addition of a large classroom wing, and the implementation of the Adopt-an-Animal fundraising program.

Paul S. Chaffee, the zoo's director since 1965, died in 1990, and the Fresno Zoo was renamed the Chaffee Zoological Gardens of Fresno after him. The zoo became more commonly known as the Chaffee Zoo. In 1991 the Zoo's entrance was extended to connect with the nearby Roeding Park Storyland and Playland attractions. The Winged Wonders Bird Show was added, with shows taking place in the newly fenced Amphitheater. In 1993 Nosey the elephant died at the age of 47. [3]

In 2004 "Measure Z" was passed by the voters (73%) in Fresno to raise money to expand the zoo, and to improve the animal exhibits. The US$150 million project was contingent upon the submission and review of an environmental impact report.

The name of the zoo was shortened to Fresno Chaffee Zoo in 2006.

In 2006 a 20-year master plan was approved by the Zoo. This plan included expanding the Zoo's size from 18 to 39 acres, awaiting environmental report. The new space is intended to accommodate large animal exhibits, such as lions, breeding elephants, cheetahs, rhinos, meerkats and other African animals. [4]

In 2007 a traveling "Stingray Bay" exhibit visited and attracted large crowds. Several stingrays were bred while they were visiting Fresno. In 2009 a permanent Stingray Bay exhibit was opened, funded by Measure Z. In the Rainforest exhibit, the former butterfly house (Maddis House) reopened as the Tropical Treasures exhibit in March 2009, with poison dart frogs and a sloth amongst other species.

In August 2012 a very large Sea Lion Cove, designed after the Central Coast’s Point Lobos, was opened. It contains s 250,000 gallon saltwater tank with rock outcrops and islands, while preserving the redwood trees that surround the enclosures. A 35-ft viewing glass allows guest to watch the sea lions underwater. This exhibit also includes pelicans. This was the first major exhibit funded by Measure Z. [5] The old sea lion enclosure was repurposed for river otters.

In August 2013 a 14-year-old 11 ft King Cobra Exhibit opened. Added onto the reptile house, this was the first expansion of this circa 1970s building and was paid for by Measure Z. It contains replicas of the stone ruins of 12th century Cambodian Angor Wat (ÒCity of TemplesÓ),and four displays. In addition to the cobra, if includes a Komodo dragon and a variety of snakes from southeast Asia. [6]

In January 2014 ground was broken for the approximately 18-acre "African Adventure" expansion doubling the size of the zoo, to open in the summer of 2015, and including large animal exhibits such as lions, breeding elephants, cheetahs, rhinos, meerkats, hippos, gorillas, penguins. [7] [8]

Measure Z, which provided funding for the zoo, had been approved for ten years in 2004, and was due for renewal by voters in November 2014. [8]

Fresno Chaffee Zoo - History

(Dec. 1, 2020) Fresno Chaffee Zoo announced today that Jon Forrest Dohlin will be its new Chief Executive Officer. He will succeed retiring CEO Scott Barton with the transition expected to take place in early 2021.

“We are thrilled to announce that Jon Dohlin has accepted our offer to join Fresno Chaffee Zoo as its next CEO. Jon brings extensive experience in project and animal management and a strong commitment to conservation, education and delivering a world-class guest experience. We could not be more excited to have Jon in the Fresno Chaffee Zoo family,” said Kyle Kirkland, Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo Corporation Board Chair.

Dohlin, who will be the eighth Executive Director and CEO in the Zoo’s 90-year history, currently serves as the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, a position he has held for the past 12 years. In his 20 years with the Wildlife Conservation Society, he was also involved in project design and management with the Bronx Zoo. The New York Aquarium is Brooklyn’s largest cultural institution. As director, Dohlin managed an annual budget of $18.5 million and over 300 staff members, directed a $150 million restoration of the Aquarium after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and oversaw the design, construction and fund-raising for the award-winning $160 million shark exhibit, Ocean Wonders: Sharks!

“We’re pleased that Jon has agreed to join the Fresno Chaffee Zoo team and I believe that the Zoo’s ability to recruit talent of his stature speaks to its importance to the people of Fresno as well as the international zoo and aquarium community. The Zoo’s position as a leading educational and cultural institution will be enhanced through Jon’s leadership and we look forward to welcoming him to our great city,” said Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.

As Chief Executive Officer, Dohlin will oversee all functions of the Zoo, including the over 220 species of animals and the Zoo’s exhibits, such as Sea Lion Cove, Stingray Bay and African Adventure. He will also continue the progress on Kingdoms of Asia, which broke ground in September. This $38 million project includes habitats for tigers, orangutans, and sloth bears and is expected to open in the fall of 2021.

“I am privileged and excited to join the Fresno Chaffee Zoo team and continue to build on the great work they’ve done to create an outstanding zoo experience for the Fresno and Central Valley communities,” said Dohlin. “Fresno County residents’ commitment to the Zoo through Measure Z creates a powerful partnership, which I am honored to steward into our shared future. Fresno Chaffee Zoo is highly respected within the national and international zoo communities for its award-winning exhibits, commitment to conservation and talented and engaged staff, all of which drew me here from New York. I look forward to continuing the Zoo’s mission by focusing on conservation, education, world class animal care, community engagement and WOW exhibits.”

Fresno Chaffee Zoo welcomes over 800,000 guests annually, including visitors from all 50 states and over 30 countries. Almost 100,000 local area students and chaperones frequent the Zoo each year and families from all over the Central Valley enjoy our special attractions such as Zoorassic Park, ZooBoo, and ZooLights.

Theme Parks Edit

The park houses Playland, an amusement park operated by local area rotary clubs and Storyland, a theme park with a fairy tale theme. Storyland is geared toward younger children. The park has a series of interactive scenes from well-known stories and fairy tales. Transportation between the two amusement parks is provided in the form of a miniature train powered by a steam-outline locomotive (a diesel locomotive made to look like a steam locomotive). During the summer, a troupe of local students performs plays at an amphitheater in the park based on fairy tales. The two parks underwent massive renovation in 2016, in order to repair and modernize their amenities and attractions. [3]

Zoo Edit

The Chaffee Zoo received a big break with the passing of Measure Z, which added a tenth of a cent city sales tax benefiting the zoo. Along with the tax, the zoo has changed from being city operated to being run by a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. The land, exhibits and animals themselves are still owned by the City of Fresno but leased to the Fresno's Chaffee Zoo Corp. [4] The tax allowed for the hiring of Donna Fernandes from the Buffalo Zoo as the new director in 2005, but she left after only 3 months to return to her previous job. [5] Lewis Greene, [6] from the Virginia Zoo, was then hired as director in 2006 and secured an extension of AZA [7] accreditation. [8] Major changes and improvements at the zoo are in store in the upcoming years although the descendants of the original Roeding family are threatening a lawsuit [5] if the zoo attempts to expand further into the park donated to the city by their ancestors for the purpose of a "public park."

In July 2009, Page & Turnbull inventoried and evaluated Roeding Park as a historic district as part of the Roeding Park and Fresno Chaffee Zoo Facility Master Plans Draft Environmental Impact Report. [9] Accordingly, Roeding Park is identified as meeting National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) Criteria A and C and California Register of Historical Resources (CRHR) Criteria 1 and 3 in the areas of Entertainment/Recreation, Community Planning & Development, and Landscape Architecture. The district contains 25 contributing resources and the period of significance was 1903-1953. A qualified Architectural Historian meeting the Secretary of Interior Professional Qualification Standards conducted the 2009 Roeding Park survey. [10] [11]

Watch the video: Zoorassic Park Fresno Chaffee Zoo (November 2021).