Happy 20th Anniversary, Metro Richmond Zoo
Twenty years ago, the Metro Richmond Zoo opened to the general public on April 22, 1995.
Here is a timeline of our growth in 20 years:
1995: Zoo opens with 250 animals covering 30 acres of land.
1996: Jack is the Zoo’s first white rhino. Levi and Zach, cheetah brothers, become the Zoo’s first meat-eaters.
1997: Rajah, a white Bengal tiger cub, arrives. The Zoo opens the chimp and orangutan islands.
1998: The original gift shop, office, and front entrance are built.
1999: The first De Brazza’s monkey is born.
2000: Lion exhibit opens. First Dromedary camel calf and Brazilian tapir calf are born.
2001: First Reticulated giraffe calf is born at the Zoo. MRZ provides a unique experience to hand feed our herd of giraffes.
2002: Flamingo exhibit opens.
2003: The Safari Sky Ride is built. The Zoo expands with the opening of the North American Boardwalk featuring alligators, bison, and elk. A Christmas tradition begins as Miracle of Christmas, a live Christmas pageant, premiers in December.
2004: The Zoo exhibits the Mishmi Takin, an endangered animal native to India and China. The walk-in bird aviary opens by the front entrance with exotic ducks, spoonbills, and ibis.
2005: The Asiatic Black Bear enclosure opens.
2006: A second giraffe barn is built to accommodate the growing herd. A second cafe opens by the Sky Ride. The Jungle Carousel is built.
2007: African Clawless otters arrive.
2008: The Safari Train Ride is built, expanding the Zoo’s size by 10 acres. The Budgie exhibit allows guests to feed birds.
2009: The 7th chimpanzee is born. Hatari and Kitu, two male cheetahs, arrive at the Zoo.
2010: The Zoo begins expansion on the front entrance, increasing the size of the gift shop and offices. The Pass Center is created.
2011: The Zoo purchases 52 more acres of adjacent land. The Zoo launches massive efforts in support of cheetah conservation. Construction begins at the Cheetah Breeding Center. (More land still being developed in 2015.)
2012: Farley and Zoe, our playful juvenile orangutans, go on exhibit. Five additional cheetahs arrive at the Cheetah Breeding Center.
2013: The 100th African penguin chick hatches at the Zoo. Lana gives birth to five cheetah cubs, the first litter for the MRZ. The playground is installed with additional outdoor picnic tables.
2014: Treetop Zoofari, Richmond’s first Zipline and Adventure Park, opens at the Metro Richmond Zoo in February.
2015: A new Animal Hospital opens on site at the Zoo. MRZ employs over 60 workers, part-time and full-time. The Zoo is currently home to over 2000 animals, representing 180 species from around the globe. It’s situated on 120 acres.
Photo Header: Susan Winiecki/Times-Dispatch