What is Happening at Reid Park?

Big changes are underway in Reid Park! This beloved oasis in the heart of Tucson will be the subject of many improvements over the next few years. These upgrades include new playgrounds and splash pads, improvements to walking paths and the DeMeester Outdoor Performing Arts Center, and an expansion of Reid Park Zoo.

Zoo Expansion

Reid Park Zoo is expanding west so we can better provide exceptional welfare for the animals in our care, increase our commitment to saving endangered species, and provide the community more opportunities for enjoyment, learning, and engagement with the natural world. 

The expansion, called Pathway to Asia, makes Malayan tiger conservation efforts possible and includes adding 3.5 acres of Reid Park into the zoo – a small fraction of the 131-acre park, but an important addition to the Zoo’s small footprint. These acres provide necessary space for the rare cats to thrive and will provide increased learning and engagement opportunities for the public. 

Malayan tigers are a critically endangered big cat with fewer than 300 individuals left in the wild. Reid Park Zoo will serve a crucial role in the collaborative international effort to save this species through the Malayan Tiger Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Additionally, the new habitats will allow guests to experience red pandas, fishing cats, and brilliantly plumed birds. 

Pathway to Asia extends across Lakeshore Drive and includes the park’s southern pond and Barnum Hill. Development of the land will be conducted with sensitivity to the environment and any wildlife currently living there.

Our plans will increase the tree coverage by 33 percent. There are currently 128 trees on the land, more than half of which will be protected and preserved. An additional 100 new trees will be planted, for a total of 171 new and existing trees as part of the expansion. 

 The Zoo is working with local wildlife officials to humanely collect the turtles and rehome them. Waterfowl will continue to come and go naturally from the area even after the expansion effort is complete. 

Park Improvements

There are many improvements underway in Reid Park – and not just at the Zoo. Many areas are receiving upgrades and enhancements to improve public use and enjoyment of the park. Tucson Parks and Recreation is adding a new splash pad and playground, improving walking paths, and investing in water quality improvements to the large north pond and waterfall, making that water feature healthier and more enjoyable for the public and local wildlife. Follow along with progress on these and other Park improvements on the Tucson Delivers Park Improvements website.

Pathway to Asia Timeline 

Construction is slated to begin in Spring 2021 and be completed in early 2023. 

These improvement plans were made with extensive input from the local community. Zoo improvements were approved by voters in 2017 and project details have been discussed widely in council meetings, during more than 100 presentations with members of the community, and with local media. A 2019 open house held by the Parks & Recreation Department indicated that 92% of attendees approved of the Zoo’s expansion plan. Contact us with questions or comments about the future of your Zoo!

Commitment to Community Access

The Zoo has also been expanding access! Providing access for all is a vital part of Reid Park Zoo’s commitment to connecting people with nature and wildlife, regardless of economic status. Through Community Access Programs, Reid Park Zoo makes the Zoo and its programs accessible to low-income and/or underserved children and families. Each year more than 30,000 children and adults enjoy free admission. Additionally, we offer reduced admission to EBT cardholders (SNAP/WIC program participants). 

Reid Park Zoo admission tickets remain one of the lowest priced in the nation for comparable zoo experiences, thanks to our community’s continued support and commitment of Zoo enhancement and improvement efforts. 

Learn more about Community Access Programs