Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Buttonwood Park Zoo

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
No. of animals


+1 508-991-6178

Annual visitors


Buttonwood Park Zoo

Date opened
1894; August 12, 2000 (renovated)

New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States

425 Hawthorn St, New Bedford, MA 02740, USA

Open today · 9AM–5PMTuesday9AM–5PMWednesday9AM–5PMThursday9AM–5PMFriday9AM–5PMSaturday9AM–5PMSunday9AM–5PMMonday9AM–5PM

New Bedford Whaling, New Bedford Whaling, Capron Park Zoo, Rotch–Jones–Duff House and Garden M, Fort Taber Park

Buttonwood park zoo

The Buttonwood Park Zoo, located in New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States, is a ten-acre zoo located in the center of Buttonwood Park. It is owned and operated by the City of New Bedford, with the support of the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society.


The zoo opened in 1894 and reopened in 2000 after major renovations. It is home to a variety of North American wildlife and it supports many conservation programs, such as the Cape Cod Stranding Network.

In 2012, Buttonwood Park Zoo was named as one of the "Ten Worst Zoos For Elephants" by the animal rights organization In Defense of Animals.

On January 3, 2014, Asian elephant Ruth was found outside in subzero temperatures during a blizzard. The zoo was cited and fined $777 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act for failure to secure access. Ruth subsequently suffered frostbite of her ears, tail and vulva. Portions of her ears fell off, and on November 5, 2014, approximately 10" of her tail was surgically removed.

Feeding toby the bear at the buttonwood park zoo


The Buttonwood Park Zoo is the oldest continually operating zoo in Massachusetts.

In 1969, the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society (BPZS), a private, nonprofit corporation, was founded to manage the membership program, run concessions, produce zoo events, and coordinate fundraising. The City of New Bedford supplies one-third of the money needed to operate the zoo, and the remainder is covered by concessions income and contributions from the BPZS.

By the 1990s, the zoo was in deplorable condition and in need of renovation. The zoo closed in late 1995 for renovations. The zoo re-opened in August 2000.

Buttonwood Park Zoo was called "one of the finest small zoos in the United States" by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in 2003.


The zoo houses over 200 animal species from around the world. Exhibits feature animals from the barnyard as well as the wild.

The exhibits are categorized into five main areas:

  • North America East (NAE): This section contains black bears, river otters, beavers, turkey buzzards, bald eagles, and coyotes.
  • North America West (NAW): This section contains bison, cougars, Canadian lynx, bobcat, and crows.
  • Aquatics: This section contains harbor seal, shorebirds, a salt marsh, a kettlepond, a mountain stream, amphibians, snakes, and turtles.
  • Elephants: This section contains the zoo's two Asian elephants. In 2013, the zoo announced that after the elephants die, it will not take in another elephant to replace them.
  • Domestics: This section contains horses, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and an area for pony rides.
  • Education

    The Wildlife Education Center is an educational building at the heart of the zoo. It contains two classrooms which host educational programs and business and private meetings.

    Other features

    The North Woods Gift Store and Bear's Den Cafe are open daily.


    Annual events at the zoo include "Boo at the Zoo", "Holiday Lights", "Cabin Fever Week", and "Spring Fling Week".


    Buttonwood Park Zoo Wikipedia