History, Mission and Vision

Several individuals dedicated to building a state-of-the-art zoological attraction for Fargo/Moorhead and the surrounding communities formed the Red River Zoological Society in 1993. Construction of the Red River Zoo has been funded exclusively through philanthropic gifts of cash and in-kind services and materials from local individuals, families, corporations and foundations. The Red River Zoo celebrated its grand opening in the spring of 1999 and is operated solely through earned revenue, memberships and donations. The zoo is open to the general public for the fair weather months of May through September annually.

The Red River Zoo is located in southwest Fargo, North Dakota on thirty-three acres of land, formerly the George Anderson Family Red River Ranch. The initial site included only seven trees and a few old farm buildings. Several buildings were either modified to fit the needs of the new zoo or simply destroyed due to public safety concerns. The featureless land has since been transformed into areas of beautifully landscaped exhibits, rolling hills and a series of five ponds connected by flowing streams. Over five hundred trees and shrubs have been planted to create the illusion of wilderness amongst the cityscape of Fargo.

The most notable aspect of the Red River Zoo is its outstanding living collection. Several endangered species live and breed in natural habitat exhibits throughout the zoo. The zoo features exotic and native animals and plants from areas around the world with similar climates to the Red River Valley. Over three hundred animals of seventy-five species reside at the Red River Zoo.


The Red River Zoological Society’s mission statement:

To foster awareness and appreciation of wildlife; to advance public education on the need for wildlife conservation and preservation; to exchange information and services with individuals and organizations interested in wildlife topics and issues.

The Red River Zoological Society’s vision statement:

The Red River Zoological Society will continue to develop and promote a unique, regional zoo culture dedicated to conservation and education. The objectives of the Society include: providing meaningful family recreation; providing stakeholders with an understanding of how nature works; providing an environment conducive to appreciation of animal diversity; and actively encouraging and developing an atmosphere which supports community involvement and participation. Future development will focus on creating a year-round recreational adventure facility that will serve as a regional destination for family entertainment.

These objectives will be accomplished by the Society by:

  • making animal health and welfare our top priority.
  • developing and maintaining a world-class innovative facility.
  • maintaining a live animal collection displayed in natural habitat exhibits.
  • participating in cooperative international conservation programs.
  • developing and implementing business programs to take our message to the community.
  • being a fiscally responsible entity and a good corporate citizen.