Elmwood Park Zoo was founded in 1924, when a private landowner donated a small piece of property and a handful of white-tailed deer to the Borough of Norristown. Run by the Borough as a division of Elmwood Park, the Zoo exhibited a collection of animals throughout the 1920s, including monkeys, bears, peacocks, deer, raccoons, and rabbits. Popular for its exhibits, the Zoo was also a destination because of the natural spring that provided clean water to borough residents.
The Zoo expanded and changed over the decades. Advances in animal care changed exhibits from bare wire-cages (which was the standard in the 1920s) into more naturalistic exhibits that would give comfort to the animals. The Zoo developed a focus on North- and South-American animals, and though ownership and operation continued to come from the Borough, the Zoo was supported by the Norristown Zoological Society, a group of community-minded citizens who oversaw programs, and donated their time and money to support the Zoo.
Today, Elmwood Park Zoo welcomes over 130,000 visitors annually for an educational adventure in a fun, clean, and family-oriented environment.
A new 20-year master plan was approved by the Norristown Borough Council in 2003. In it, the Zoo will expand from its present 16 acres to over 42, adding South- and Central-American themed exhibits that would more than double the Zoo's present exhibit space, expanded parking and concessions areas, and a state-of-the-art Animal Care and Conservation Center where the Zoo's veterinary staff will treat their patients, and interactive exhibits will teach visitors about animal medicine.
The new master plan comes with a price tag of over $60 million, which must be raised from community, government, and corporate donations, and is in addition to an annual operating budget of more than $1.5 million. You can help the Zoo achieve its vision; any donation, from one dollar to one million dollars, will push the Zoo closer to accomplishing its mission.