Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens. It is the only natural tropical rainforest zoo in the united states. Admission is Free.
Located off Highway 11 in Hilo on the Island of Hawai'i.
Press Releases

2014 Annual Meeting



Dan Beer, president of the Friends of the Zoo Board of Directors, died in a tragic accident at his other home in California on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

Dan and Arline, his wife of 52 years, were cutting cord wood on their Meadow Valley property when a dead oak tree fell on him, killing him instantly.

Dan’s family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo.  FOZ will be placing a plaque honoring Dan’s memory

on Namaste’s bench near the tiger enclosure.  He will be missed and remembered as a true friend to all who were fortunate enough to have known him.

Aloha Dan,
Friends of the Zoo



Friends of the Zoo members are pleased to present the Gordon Granger/Sally Rogers $2,000.00 Scholarship to Santana Soria to help her further her studies in Veterinary Medicine.

While attending UHH, studying Animal Science, she has volunteered almost 500 hours of her time at the zoo.  After graduation in 2015 she plans to attend the School of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University with a particular interest in primates.

“After completing my studies, I hope to return to the Big Island to open my own practice and continue to help at the Pana’ewa Zoo,” says Ms. Soria, pictured in the center.

FOZ board members presenting the award from the left are Betsy del Santo, Gretchen Klungness, Pat Engelhard and June Kawashima.  (Photo by Shey Kravas)

"I have spent about 468 hours volunteering at the zoo for the past three years. I am going into my 4th year at UH Hilo studying Animal Science with a Pre-Veterinary track. I plan on attending Oregon State after UH Hilo to become veterinarian and hopefully study primates. After completing my studies, I hope to return to the Big Island to open my own practice and continue to help the Panaewa Zoo." - Santana Soria, FOZ scholarship winner


Pana‘ewa Zoo Discovery Forest Project Call for Volunteers!

What: Pana‘ewa Zoo Discovery Forest Volunteer Planting Day

Where: Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens
800 Stainback Highway
Hilo, East Hawai‘i
(Follow the Discovery Forest arrows to the project site)

When: Saturday, August 27, 2011 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Who: Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association Hawai‘i Forest Institute

Who to Contact: Please contact Project Coordinator Mike Donoho to sign up: 808-936-7526

(We can accommodate up to 40 volunteers, so sign up today!)

Come out and help us create this unique native and agro-forest demonstration project.
Snacks & refreshments will be served.


KTA Super Store Donation

KTA Super Stores recently presented a check for $2246.00 to The Friends of the Panaewa Zoo. Funds were collected through donations at the checkout from generous KTA customers.

Pictured here are: L to R, Pam Mizuno, zoo director and Shirley Howard with pygmy goats, Kristina and Dionne, second row, Tracey Yamane of KTA, Pat Larson, Friends of the Zoo Gift Shop manager, Pat Englehard and Linda Peters, county of Hawaii Dept. of Environmental Management, back row, Greg Goodale, County Solid Waste Division Chief, Barbara Thomason and Patty Anger.


The 13th Annual Friends of the Zoo Plant Sale and Exposition:
May 1, 2011 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

As the current President of Friends of the Zoo, I want to first of all, thank Donna Thomas and Ron Phillips for initiating and chairing the last 12 Annual FOZ Plant Sale and Expositions. They have been inspirational in developing the plant sale at the zoo into an important community event. Mahalo Donna and Ron, and while they are not chairing this year’s event, they have been instrumental in handing off their contacts, information, expertise and guidance to Dan Beer, who is this year’s event Chairperson.

I want to thank each of you for your interest in this upcoming 13th Annual Friends of the Zoo Plant Sale and Exposition. We look forward to continuing to make this community event successful for all parties involved. The zoo is an amazing setting in which you can meet with the community and present your organization and or business and provide plants for purchase.

The good news is that the pending construction at the Zoo, will not begin until after the plant sale. Most of the details remain the same: free spaces and a suggested donation of 20% of your sales (on the honor system) to Friends of the Zoo. FOZ will be providing promotion, publicity and hot dogs, chips and beverages for purchase. If we know that you will be participating early enough in the process, your organization/business names will be included in the advertising. Flyers will be made, including vendor information, and vendor in zoo locations will be noted on the “at zoo promotional information” the day of the event.

We will be using the same area in the zoo and will have the benefit of the side gate in order for you to move your plants and supplies into the zoo. We have reserved, Saturday, April 30, 2011 from 3:00-4:30 PM for setup. Early Sunday AM setup begins at 7:45 and all vehicles must have exited the zoo and set-up must be completed by 9:00 AM when the zoo opens. (We will repeat the 3:00-4:30 schedule on Sunday for tear down after the event)

We are asking that each vendor provide their own 10x10 or 12x12 tent and set-up, properly secured with stakes, to ensure the safety of the other vendors, the zoo animals and the guests in attendance. We will have “shade cloth” structures available on a first come, first served basis, as long as there is space available. The tents that we have used in the past are worn to a point of critical disrepair, and we are hoping that you are able to provide your own tents. If you require a larger space, you may make arrangements with Dan as long as you are able to provide multiple 10x10 or 12x12 tents or have been awarded assignment of a larger shade cloth structure.
Please let Dan know as soon as possible of your intent to participate in this event. FOZ is required to provide the list to the county so they know who the approved vendors are that plan to participate at the zoo. (It is better to have your name on the list and change your mind later, than not to have your name on the list provided to the county.)

Please note that all participants who are there for the purpose of selling plants, planting materials etc. must have paid for a County Temporary Vendors Permit. If the permit is not purchased at least 2 weeks before the event, payment must be made in cash. And, please remember that all permit applications must have the State of Hawaii General Excise Tax License presented at the time of application and payment.

We want you each of you to have a good time, and a successful event. The opportunity for you to sell your plants, and to promote your organizations and or you businesses at this splendid Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens is a once a year opportunity. We anticipate volunteers to assist you with your set-up and or special needs. Please let Dan know how FOZ can help. I wish you welcome and happy sales.

Please remember too, that there is No Smoking at the Zoo, by County of HI Ordinance, and that ordinance does apply to the parking lot as well as inside of the zoo. For the health and safety of the animals as well as the people in attendance, please honor this requirement.

You may contact Dan by phone at 808-333-5658.
He will be happy to provide additional information and requirements regarding the event.

Please let me know if I can help. Your input regarding this event and how we can make it better is gratefully appreciated. I welcome your comments and suggestions. Mahalo for your interest.

Karla Cook, President
Friends of the Zoo


March 18, 2011

College and Career Counselors
Hawaii Island Public High Schools

Re: Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo
Gordon Granger/Sally Rogers Memorial Scholarships

Dear Counselor,

The Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo are again offering a scholarship to a high school senior. The “Friends of the Zoo” is a nonprofit community organization that supports many projects and educational programs for the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo. This scholarship is named for two of our former FOZ officers, now deceased, Gordon Granger and Sally Rogers.

This year we are awarding a $2000 scholarship to one Hawaii Island senior. or two $1000 scholarships, depending on the number and quality of the applications we receive. To be eligible for the award, the student must be a senior graduating from a public school on the Island of Hawaii. The student must have demonstrated the intent and the ability to complete a college major in one of the life sciences (animal science, biology, botany, environmental science, marine science, pre-veterinary medicine, zoology, etc.), with the intent of pursuing a career in which he/she would improve the well-being of wild animals in some significant way. In reviewing applications, the Scholarship Committee will consider the clarity of the students’ vision of his/her goals, the likelihood of reaching those goals, and the need for financial support in pursuing them.

Please inform your eligible seniors about our scholarship. I have enclosed an Instruction Form and an Application Form for you to photocopy and distribute to prospective applicants. The deadline for receipt of all application materials is a postmark by Monday, May 2, 2011. The scholarship recipient will be notified by the middle of May.

Feel free to call me if you have any questions. I can be reached at work at 974-7732 or at home (evenings and weekends) at 896-0052. Please leave a voice message at either phone.

Thank you for taking the time to notify students of this scholarship opportunity. We are pleased to be able to offer assistance to both students and animals through our fund.


Christine Kornet
Chairman, Scholarship Committee
Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo

Click here to download the Scholarship Application Form


Aloha All FOZ Board Members and Volunteers and Friends of the Zoo,

Please see the attached Poster and Donation card. KTA Stores, island wide, will be providing an opportunity to donate to FOZ, at the checkout stand, throughout the month of April. Please share this opportunity with all of your friends and family by forwarding this E-Mail here on the island. KTA Zoo Poster

Our primary mission is to promote the zoo to the community and to contribute to the well-being of the resident animals. Our goals include education, enrichment for the animals, fostering concern and support for conservation of endangered animals and their environment, and to help the county zoo with new animals and exhibits. The Friends of the Zoo, first incorporated in 1981, is a (501-C3) not for profit organization registered with the state of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. It is our honor and privilege to continue this 30 year legacy of service to the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and the community. We are grateful for your support in this effort.

Remember, Earth Day is April 22, 2011. KTA has offered to set-up an Earth Day/Recycling education display on the sidewalk outside their store on April 22 from 3 to 6 PM (highest foot traffic). We are invited to join Linda Peters, County Recycling Coordinator for the County of HI, and her recycling staff during this time to promote this Earth Day/Zoo fund raising effort. Please let me know if you are interested in being at KTA during this time.

I want to acknowledge Linda's continued effort on behalf of FOZ and the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens. She ha worked with KTA again this year to make this happen. Mahalo Linda for your interest and support.

If you would like to contact her yourself, here is her contact information:

Linda Peters, Recycling Coordinator -
County of Hawai`i
Department of Environmental Management
Phone: 808-961-8942
Fax: 808-961-8553

Namaste 12th Birthday

Friends of the Pana'ewa Zoo celebrate Namaste's 12th birthday

Namaste will be celebrating his 12th birthday on Saturday, October , 2010. Friends of the Pana'ewa Zoo invite everyone to come help celebrate!

Namaste will receive an ice cake at 9am and a special birthday dinner at 3:30pm. Both donated by Kulana foods. Namaste will receive a catnip pillow donated by Meowie Wowie and sewn by Lani from the Zoo gift shop.

Namaste's non-animal friends will be treated to free birthday cake donated by KTA Superstores and ice cream donated by The Pint Size Corporation, served from 12 noon until 1pm. Hot dogs, shave ice and cold drinks will also be available for purchase during the birthday celebration.

For the keiki, there will be a fishing game, treasure chest game, crafts and face painting. Linda Peters from the County of Hawaii Recycling Department will also have a fun recycling game for the keiki. Terry the Tiger will be visiting from 9am until noon.

County of Hawaii Prosecuting Attorney's office will be there from 10am until 2pm with the keiki Id program. Also promising to appear if there are no fire emergencies that morning, will be a county fire engine and crew.

Aikido of Hilo will be performing from 10:30am. At 11am, Young Music Studio featuring the Orchid Isle Youth and Community Orchestra and Malamalama Waldorf School will be performing. At 1pm, the Kaimu Awa Band will be performing traditional Hawaiian music.

Visitors can take a photo with a life-sized plush white tiger at the Zoo Information Booth. The Petting Zoo will be open from 1:30 to 2:30 pm.

This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo, a nonprofit corporation which supports and promotes the zoo. Funds raised at events contribute to the acquisition and care of zoo animals and for improvements at the zoo. The Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens hours are 9am to 4pm daily. No admission is charged. For further information contact the Friends’ Zoo Gift Shop at 959-9233.

Download the Press Release and Event Schedule


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Namaste and the Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo would like to thank everyone who made Namaste’s 11th Birthday Celebration on Saturday, September 26, 2009 such a huge success. Namaste The excellent entertainment was provided by the County Band, the Waiakea High School Band, Lobo del Mar, Kaliko Guys, Lava Jam Band and Jazman. The ono grinds were courtesy of Michael’s Hawaiian Food, Ai’Open’a Espresso and Friends of the Zoo. KTA donated the birthday cakes and The Pint Size Corporation provided the ice cream for the big day. Kulana Foods donated beef bones for Namaste’s Birthday Bone Cake as well as a large beef roast for his birthday dinner. Meowie Wowie furnished the catnip for Namaste’s new pillow. Special keiki fun and games were assisted by Marc the Clown, Terry the Tiger and the Big Monkey.

And a great big MAHALO to our Mayor, Billy Kenoi, for his participation in the dedication of the tiger mural honoring our late president Jean Curtis’ years of dedication and commitment to FOZ and the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens.

It was a wonderful party and Namaste would also like to thank Al Cabral and the Hawaii Horse Owner’s Association, the volunteers, the zoo staff, and ever one who attended and made his day so very special. See you all next year.

Mahalo Nui Loa,
Namaste Pomaika’i and
Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo



Where: Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens - Ed. Pavillion
When: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12
Details: FOZ annual Membership meeting and election of new Pres., Vice Pres., and Board Members. FOZ will also honor our long-time retiring President Jean Curtis. All FOZ members are welcome and encouraged to attend. Meet at the Education Pavillion.
Contact: Faith, 961-3172


Birthday Party at the Zoo, Namaste turns 11

It is that time again! Namaste, the zoo’s white Bengal tiger, will be celebrating his 11th birthday on Saturday, September 26, 2009 and The Friends of the Zoo want everyone to come celebrate with him! Namaste is always ready for a good party and especially loves his birthday parties!

Namaste's birthday is the biggest birthday bash in Hilo and this year’s celebration will include musical entertainment all day long. The hourly shows start with the Waiakea High School Band at 9am, Lobo Del Mar at 10am, the Hawaii County Band at 11am, the Dedication of the Namaste Rain Shelter Mural at 12 noon, Java Jive at 1pm, Jazman at 2pm, and Lava Jam Band at 3pm.

There will be food booths serving hotdogs and shave ice. Free cake from KTA Superstores and Safeway and ice cream courtesy of The Pint Size Corporation will be served at 12 noon to the public as long as supplies last. At 9:30am Namaste will receive his ice cake and do the Pumpkin Pounce. At 11:00am, he will receive his birthday presents and at 3:00pm the birthday boy, Namaste, will receive his birthday dinner, donated by Kulana Foods.

At the entrance of the zoo, visitors can sign birthday banners for Namaste and take a photo with a life-sized plush white tiger at the Zoo Information Booth. The zoo gift shop is celebrating by offering 10% discounts on all white tiger plush items for the day. The face painting has been so popular, it will be offered at two locations this year. Keiki will be able to make a special craft project to take home, enjoy a scavenger hunt and play games. Terry the Tiger, Marc the Clown and the Black Monkey will also be on hand to entertain the keiki. The Petting Zoo will be open from 1:30 to 2:30 pm.

Al Cabral and the Hawaii Horse Owners’ Association will assist visitors with parking.

This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo, a nonprofit corporation which supports and promotes the zoo. Funds raised at events contribute to the acquisition and care of zoo animals and for improvements at the zoo. the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens hours are 9am to 4pm daily. No admission is charged. For further information contact the Friends’ Zoo Gift Shop at 959-9233 or visit the website at
Zoo Open 9-4 daily, except Christmas and New Years's Day. Petting Zoo, Every Saturday 1:30-2:30. Tiger Feeding 3:30 daily.

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