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“Not your traditional zoo” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens

Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens
Ranked #22 of 79 things to do in Hilo
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Activities for older children, Wheelchair access, Baby buggy parking
Attraction details
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Activities for older children, Wheelchair access, Baby buggy parking
Honolulu
Level Contributor
380 reviews
108 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 184 helpful votes
“Not your traditional zoo”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 August 2014

This is not a traditional zoo like most people think of them. But it is worth going to especially with small kids. I get the impression that many of the animals are rescue animals and for that reason they are loved and special. It is obvious walking around the place that this is a labor of love for the "Friends of the Zoo" who run it. Admission is free and the exhibits and landscaping is clean and well cared for. Which is hard in a rainforest as things grown fast. They have a good smattering of interesting animals to look at the monkeys are hilarious to watch at feeding time. There are some orphaned donkeys (which used to rome free on the other side of the island). The Large blue Parrott Zoey talkes and laughs, and if you stand in front of her and bouce up and down she will do the same to mimic you-fun for kids! There are also peacocks all over the place and they are beautiful. The long time star of the zoo Namaste the white tiger died, he would have been 16 this year and his pen sits empty. I was lucky enought to see him a few years ago and he was beautiful, stately so the loss of him is sorely felt. But they have a nice pictorial exhibit as you walk in and you can read about this wonderful animal.

The vegetation is great to look at as it is a real rainforest. Many exotic plants interspersed throughout. Easy to walk.

Oh and there is a playground and picnic area if you wanted to stop and eat lunch while the kids play. The playground all by itself is worth the trip.

It is close to Hilo as you travel out of town toward the volcano park. The zoo closes at 4pm (opens at 9am). There is a petting zoo every Saturday 130-230 where you can get up close and personal with a lama and multiple other animals.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
Thank Cardiotron
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Orlando, FL
Level Contributor
43 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Nice Small Zoo”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 August 2014

This is definately worth a stop if you are looking for something to do while in Hilo. The zoo is free and is a nice outing with some pretty gardens. Stop by the Macaw cage as he is fun to see. My family and I spent a very enjoyable morning here while on vacation.

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
Thank cjqueen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tarrytown, New York
Level Contributor
75 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Don't go out of your way to visit, but it's free entry”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 August 2014

I have driven past the zoo many times, and had heard the gardens were very nice. The main attraction, an albino tiger, died of old age earlier this year. The other animals and bird are in rather unfortunate cages that seem small or dirty or old or all three. The tropical birds are the highlight of the visit, and they're loud and beautiful. The gardens have many palms and a nice selection of vireyas (tropical rhododendrons).

If it weren't free, I would say skip it. But the gardens are not bad, even though the animals and birds are not the most interesting, and there are not many of them either!

Visited August 2014
Helpful?
Thank David D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
boston
Level Contributor
142 reviews
53 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
“Pretty empty, but free!”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 August 2014

Admission is free and so is parking.

My family and I came here on a Saturday for their "petting zoo". My son had a blast petting the animals. I enjoyed taking pics of him petting the animals!
It would have been nice, though, if the petting area was larger. There were a lot of animals and people crammed into a small space.

The zoo also has a nice play area for children.

There were many nice plants to see as you walk from one exhibit to another.

In terms of animals, there weren't many. We saw birds, turtles, and monkeys. Most of the exhibits were closed (empty). Even the butterfly house had no butterflies.

It's kind of a sad zoo that clearly lacks funding. However, it is free! For a free zoo, it's good enough.

It might not be worth it to go there on a day other than Saturday.

(Saturday is the only day with the petting zoo. Petting zoo is only 1 hour long. Check their website for updated hours.)

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
Thank jenkers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Olympia, Washington
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Hilo Zoo”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 July 2014

This zoo is completely run by volunteers. They also rescue some birds, and some are adopted out if they can find a better situation for the animal. I really liked it. Stop by and give them some dough. They really need it and deserve to be supported.

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
Thank Bruce M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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