• The Zoo’s initiative is to build a new, $3.8 million Big Cats of Arizona habitat, featuring mountain lions and jaguars.
  • These new habitats will provide ample space for these intriguing native cats and facilitate guest viewing unlike current habitats on the Arizona Trail. These animals are rarely seen in the wild, so providing viewing from different angles will improve visibility for guests.
  • The habitats would also include educational messaging to explain the historical native ranges of the species and include a water feature for behavioral enrichment, which is the act of providing animals with mental and physical stimulation to increase natural and healthy behaviors. This project will contain a centralized multi-use holding building, allowing flexible use by keepers while providing animal care.
  • This past fall we were thrilled to report that the Zoo was awarded $768,000 from the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT). The AOT grant program, entitled Visit Arizona Partnership, was rolled out to support productions that directly support jobs in the travel and hospitality sectors and increase Arizona tourism.
  • Planning, fundraising, design and approval process will begin this winter (a 12-month process), with an additional 12-month construction period.

Contribute today and help us raise the additional funds of $3 million needed to make this project a reality.


To learn more about how the Zoo helps Jaguars in the wild, click here!

Big Cat

Click here to learn more about Arizona mountain lions.

Are Jaguars REALLY found in Arizona??

Many people are surprised to learn that jaguars are native to Arizona. In fact, their range once spanned from Argentina to the southern United States, including portions of California, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. In Arizona, they could be found as far north as the Grand Canyon. 

In the 1800’s, as ranchers and homesteaders made their way west, the federal government promoted campaigns to eliminate large predators from the landscape. By the 20th century, jaguar populations were devastated, and sightings were few and far between. Males were only seen sporadically, and the last female was killed in Arizona’s White Mountains in 1963. 

In recent decades, however, there’s been an uptick. Seven male jaguars, members of a population in Sonora, Mexico, were recorded in the mountains of southeast Arizona in the years from 1996 to 2021. In addition, two young males, Valero and El Bonito, have been photographed traveling just south of the U.S./Mexico border multiple times since 2019.


For more information on this exciting project, please contact Christopher Gutierrez at or 602.914.4362.

The Pride Campaign Projects

Improving the Zoo | Completed Projects


A Model of Sustainability through a Partnership with our City and our Community

This important project was made possible by the City of Phoenix Capital Improvement Program funds combined with donated materials and labor from local companies and individuals. The new park lot added 573 new parking spaces. The existing 1,200 parking lot was repaved, re-striped and added walking paths. Additionally, more than 200 new native trees for natural shade were planted, installment of new high-efficiency and dark-sky appropriate LED lights, new shaded bus stop and eight shade structures salvaged from the Phoenix Suns Arena, a 20-bay shaded Solar Car Recharge Facility donated by SRP (to be installed in December and new entry monument signage will be featured on at both Galvin and Van Buren entrances (in early 2023).



Improvements to our Wetland Boardwalk at the alligator exhibit include adding rope netting along the sides of the walkway and mesh to the ramada as safety enhancements.

Wet Lands

New Shade Structures

We can’t get enough of shade here in the desert! Several shade structures have been added throughout the Zoo. Starting in front of the Zoo for our school groups and a shade structure installed at Plaza de los Ninos. Thank you to SRP for funding these shade structures. Additionally, the Zoo was given several very large shade structures that were formerly at the Phoenix Suns arena and are now installed in the Zoo’s parking lots.


New Pygmy-Owl Exhibit

The cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl was historically found in Arizona as far north as the Phoenix region. Once listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the pygmy-owl is currently considered a Species of Greatest Conservation need in Arizona. The Zoo is part of a pilot breeding program for cactus ferruginous pygmy-owls, which was started by Wild At Heart Raptor Rescue in 2006, and works in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game & Fish Department. The cactus ferruginous pygmy owl can now be seen in the Arizona Trail Aviary. Thank you to Michael Goodman for funding this project.

OWL habitat

Howler Monkey Exhibit Renovation

Renovation of the howler monkey exhibit, located on the Tropics Trail was completed. New mesh, shade cloths and new perching was installed. Finishing it off with repainting of the exhibit.



Operations worked hard this past year renovating and beautifying our walkways.

The Team removed and replaced approximately 3,000 square feet of concrete that was in need of repair.


building a future

The Phoenix Zoo is a non-profit organization that receives no government operating subsidy. It relies solely on earned income and philanthropic support. Of the $15.3 million campaign total, $1.5 million will be restricted to a permanent endowment to support operational and maintenance expenses of these new expanded projects.

For more information, contact Lorraine Frias at 602.914.4322.