Honolulu Zoo, Honolulu, Hawaii | CruiseBe
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Honolulu Zoo

Natural sights
zoo, nature, animals, attraction

The Honolulu Zoo is a 42-acre (17 ha) zoo located in Queen Kapiʻolani Park in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, USA. It is the only zoo in the United States to be established by grants made by a sovereign monarch, and is built on part of the 300 acres (121 ha) royal Queen Kapiʻolani Park. The Honolulu Zoo now features over 1,230 animals in specially designed habitats.

Over 601,510 people visit the zoo annually. The zoo is administered by the City & County of Honolulu through the Department of Enterprise Services. Its support agency, the Honolulu Zoo Society (HZS), provides program services for the zoo.

Queen Kapi‘olani Park

In 1876, King Kalākaua made royal lands near the slopes of Lē‘ahi available for the establishment of a grand public park for the people of his kingdom. Two hundred subscribers to the king's project formed the Kapiʻolani Park Association for the purpose of pursuing the mission. In 1877, the marshes, ponds and lagoons in the area were beautified and it was opened as Queen Kapiʻolani Park in honor of Queen Kapiʻolani, wife of Kalākaua.

Even as a public park, King Kalākaua continued using the park as a place for his personal collection of exotic birds and horses. The park brought more exotic animals as it staged the Kamehameha Day celebrations and various carnivals and fairs. In 1896, the City & County of Honolulu assumed control of Queen Kapiʻolani Park.

Ben Hollinger's Animals

In 1914, the City & County of Honolulu appointed Ben Hollinger to be its new Administrator of Parks and Recreation and Queen Kapiʻolani Park came under his control. Hollinger maintained a fascination with animals and began collecting them to showcase at the park in Waikīkī. The park became home for a monkey, a sun bear and several lion cubs. In 1916, a steamship on its way from Australia to Canada pulled into port at Honolulu Harbor. On board was an African elephant named Daisy. Hollinger pleaded with the City & County of Honolulu to purchase the elephant, which they did. With the acquisition of an elephant, Honolulu officially had a zoo. Daisy entertained visitors at the park until 1933, when Daisy was killed by Honolulu Police Department officers after trampling her trainer, George Conradt.


Art at the Honolulu Zoo includes:

  • Hawaiian Porpoises, a 1976 metal, fiberglass and coral sculpture by Ken Shutt
  • Hippopotami, a 1976 chicken wire, cloth, and Belzona 1 resin sculpture by Jack Throp
  • Giraffe, a 1959 metal sculpture by Charles W. Watson
  • Ostrich, a 1960 metal sculpture by Charles W. Watson no longer exists.
  • Elephant's Child, a 1988 bronze sculpture by Tom Tischler
  • Gecko's Delight, a 1978 wood relief sculpture by John Nippolt
  • Hawaiian Pigs, a 1976 stone sculpture by Gregory Clurman
  • Giraffe, a 1998 fiberglass sculpture by Jim de la Torre
  • Whooping Cranes, a pair of 1998 metal sculptures by Paul Saviskas
  • Maasai Tribesman, a 1999 metal sculpture by Paul Saviskas
  • The Evolution of an Island, a 1991 metal mural by Amanda Opsahl

Great Depression

During the Great Depression, the Honolulu Zoo was almost shut down for lack of finances. Even through the difficulty, it expanded its collection on November 29, 1949 with the purchase of an elephant, a Bactrian camel, sea lions, several bird species, spider monkeys and a tortoise. The Honolulu Zoo continued to operate in disrepair.


In 1974, the Honolulu Zoo accepted a donation of a camel, an elephant, chimpanzees and deer. These donations renewed Honolulu's enthusiasm to revive their zoo. The City & County of Honolulu approved a master plan that determined the boundaries of the present 42-acre (17 ha) site at the north end of Queen Kapiʻolani Park. The animal collection, increased by purchase, trade and donations, was housed in newly constructed facilities, some of which still provide foundations for newer exhibits. The facility designs were influenced by the exhibits of the San Diego Zoo in California. The Honolulu Zoo experienced another revival of enthusiasm in the 1990s as the exhibits were redesigned to feature more natural settings for the animals on display.

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