History of Roger Williams Park Zoo

History of Roger Williams Park Zoo

A snapshot of a turn-of-the-century Roger Williams Park Zoo.

In 1986, RWP Zoo became the first zoo in New England to earn accreditation from the Assocation of Zoos and Aquariums.

One of the first zoos to open in the United States, Roger Williams Park Zoo was founded in 1872 with a collection of small animal exhibits throughout Providence’s newly formed Roger Williams Park. Conservation and environmental education were unknown concepts at the time; the animals were simply on display.

Since then Roger Williams Park Zoo has grown both in terms of its exhibits and its mission. What started as a scattered collection of small animals on display purely for the purpose of entertainment has today evolved into “New England’s great zoo” (The Boston Globe) and one of our region’s foremost centers for conservation and environmental education.

Historical Timeline