Construction of the Red River Zoo was originally funded exclusively through philanthropic gifts of cash and in-kind services and materials from local individuals, families, corporations and foundations. The initial site included only seven trees and a few old farm buildings. The featureless land has since been transformed into areas of beautifully landscaped exhibits, rolling hills and a series of ponds connected by flowing streams. Hundreds of trees and shrubs were planted to create the illusion of wilderness amongst the cityscape of Fargo.
The collection plan of the Red River Zoo primarily focuses on species from around the world with climates similar to North Dakota’s. Primary areas represented are North America, Northern Asia and Northern Europe. The Zoo also features a modern Children’s Zoo Farm which focuses on heritage breeds and teaching children where their food comes from and why biodiversity is important.
The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and a premier attraction for the city of Fargo and surrounding area.
The Red River Zoo has experienced steady, continuous growth and is now 22 developed acres and featuring a collection of approximately 89 species from around the world. Focusing almost exclusively on cold climate species, the Red River Zoo has a unique collection and has had impressive success in breeding some of the worlds rare and endangered species, including Chinese Red Pandas, Pallas’ Cats and Sichuan Takin. In 2013, the Red River Zoo received an Outstanding Achievement award in the Edward H. Bean Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for our conservation work with Chinese Red Pandas.
The Zoo features a series of outdoor exhibits with indoor viewing areas located throughout the zoo. Recent expansions include a White Naped Crane and Pallas’ Cat exhibit renovations in 2012, a state of the art North American River Otter exhibit which opened in 2013, a new Veterinary Center with a public viewing component which opened in 2015, and our new Children’s Zoo Farm and Nature’s Playland which opened in 2016.