Fresno Chaffee Zoo, serves the San Joaquin Valley and is situated inside the Roeding Park in Fresno, California. The zoo was formerly known as Roeding Park Zoo and was renamed as Fresno Zoo in 1985. In 1990, it was again renamed as Chaffee Zoological Gardens in memory of Dr. Paul Chaffee, the first director of the zoo. 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. Much of the early history of the zoo is vague and the period between 1920 and 1947 lacked official records. By 1947, its animal population had grown considerably with a collection of about 100 animals and a large number of birds. 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. Paul Chaffee became the first Director/Veterinarian of the Zoo during the 1960s and all the management responsibilities from the Zoological Society were transferred to the director. 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. Kane Reptile House, was started in the Chaffee Zoo in 1979. 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 Doris and Karl Falk Wildlife Education Center was completed in 1984 which became the backbone of the Educational Department at the Zoo. 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. It became an institutional member of American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) in 1957. Chaffee Zoo continues to be the most popular attraction in the city of Fresno and in Central California.