More than $3.8 million was raised to build a brand-new habitat with ample space for mountain lions and jaguars. The two jaguars, Species Survival Plan participants which ensures healthy zoo populations, will get a habitat increase by more than double their current living situation. The pair of mountain lions’ – sisters found as abandoned orphans in South Dakota – will get a new space approximately five-times the size of their current home.

The Big Cats of Arizona habitat will facilitate guest viewing unlike current habitats on the Arizona Trail. These intriguing desert cats are rarely seen in the wild, so providing viewing from different angles will improve visibility for guests. The habitats will also include educational messaging to explain the historical native ranges of the species and include a water feature for behavioral enrichment. This project will contain a centralized multi-use holding building, allowing flexible use by keepers while providing animal care. The 12-month construction period will begin this summer.

A special thank you to the Arizona Office of Tourism, JoEllen Doornbos, Art Pearce Family, the Grubb Family, Richard and Susan Burnham and the Ullman Foundation and the many other donors who have graciously donated to this project.

Project Renderings

Designed by WEDDLE GILMORE Black Rock Studio


This grant program, was rolled out to support projects that directly support jobs in the travel and hospitality sectors and increase Arizona Tourism.  In September of 2021, the Zoo was awarded $768,000 for the $3.2 million Big Cats project, with the challenge that the Zoo raise the remaining funds needed by September of 2023. 

The Zoo has surpassed the fundraising goal and the 12-month construction  period will begin this summer.

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

Big Cats of Arizona
Big Cat Of Arizona
Big Cats of Arizona


Located on the Arizona Trail, this new exhibit will feature Arizona’s intriguing desert cats – the mountain lion and jaguar.

Vacated existing exhibits will allow for introduction of new species: the clouded leopard and ocelot.

The bald eagles and coati will have new homes, relocated within the Arizona Trail.

Big Cat

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.