Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo is located just before Hilo in the Pana`ewa area. This small (12 acre) zoo is the only one in the United States located in a rain forest. It is operated by Hawaii County and receives 100% of its funding from the county and from private donations.
The Zoo has more than 75 species of animals on display (including the endangered Nene), and the grounds feature more than 40 different species of plants, flowers, and trees (orchids, clumping bamboos, tropical rhododendrons, etc.) … a wonderful selection of flora!
The most popular attraction of the Zoo is a rare male white Bengal Tiger named Namaste’. These tigers come from India and have been hunted to the brink of extinction. Fewer than 500 live in the wild. Namaste’ was born in Las Vegas on September 30, 1998, and arrived in Hilo on April 16, 1999. The Zoo had planned to purchase Namaste’ from Dirk Arthur, a magician at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, but when Arthur saw the Zoo’s 1-acre (4,000 m2) tiger enclosure, he happily donated Namaste’ to the Zoo. Namaste’ can be easily spotted enjoying his vast acreage! A real treat for him and you.
Take HWY 11 towards Hilo. Shortly after the JCT 130, turn left onto Mamaki Street. Follow the signs.
Free Admission, donations welcomed