Naples Zoo's daily operations are not funded by taxes and the Zoo is not operated by the city or county. Our visitors, donors, and members provide the needed monies for plant and animal care, conservation, guest amenities, and new exhibits.
Why do Collier County residents receive benefits? It's our tangible way of expressing gratitude. When the Fleischmann estate decided to sell the land, the Zoo and historic garden could have been turned into another housing development and shopping center. But on election day 2004, 73% of the voters of Collier County endorsed the purchase of the 44-acres of land under Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens along with preservation of nearly 70 acres of wild lands to complete the Gordon River Greenway (video). Wonderfully, this landslide support from the community prevented the extinction of Naples Zoo.
Is the Zoo supported by taxes? Unlike many of the nation's accredited zoos, Naples Zoo's operations are not funded by taxes. The tax that the vote authorized only paid for the land. And even that tax is gone. In fact, the land was fully paid off in July 2009 - 6 years early! Naples Zoo now operates on public land like other nonprofit accredited zoos across the nation do.
Does the City or County operate the Zoo now? No. Only the land is owned by the county. The taxpayers were not asked to buy Naples Zoo assets or provide funding for daily operations. Only a joint entrance and parking project for the Greenway involves a cost-share with the County.
The nonprofit Naples Zoo is not county owned or operated. (The Zoo's landlord is the County as the land is outside the city of Naples.) Your zoo is operated by the nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization The Naples Zoo, Inc. and its volunteer Board of Directors.
Who pays for all this then? Visitors and members pay the lion's share of operating costs - from carrots to conservation! Donations allow your Zoo to create all the new feature exhibits! Naples Zoo must generate its own funding to care for the plants and animals, create new exhibits, and continue its conservation and education programs.
Thank You! Here are your benefits:
In gratitude to the voters of Collier County, Naples Zoo offers citizens of Collier County benefits greater than many communities that annually spend millions to fund their zoos' operations.
Naples Zoo (a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization) began offering two exciting new benefits for Collier County residents back on January 10th, 2005.
Benefit # 1: Free Admission Each Month!
On the first Saturday of every month, 12 times a year, Collier County residents receive free zoo admission all day long. Enter any time, all day long up until 4 p.m. with no coupon required - just proof of residency for all adults. Visitors under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age.
Benefit # 2: Family & Grandparent Memberships at Half Price!
About the price of a one day ticket for a family of four!
For just $79.95, up to two adults and their dependent children living in the same household up to age 21 can enjoy visiting the zoo whenever they like at no charge and receive members only benefits. Grandparent Memberships are also available at this special rate. This is a 50% savings for Collier County residents. Join online now and visit today.
Of course, Naples Zoo requires financial support to operate - by paid admissions, memberships, corporate sponsorship, grants, and donations. So please, come visit on the free days, and we hope you'll like what you see, agree with the critical need of our conservation and education mission, and join in financially supporting the continued operations of your local Zoo with a membership or donation so it will continue to be around for future generations to enjoy.
Thank you for your support of Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens and conservation. The tremendous community support is most graciously appreciated and the board of directors and stewards of the Zoo and Gardens look forward to welcoming guests throughout the 21st century.
How to Prove Collier County Residency: A state issued photo ID with a Collier County address like a driver's license is the easiest form of ID. If you have an out of area photo ID, but own property in Collier County, just bring in a utility or tax bill for a property in Collier County with a matching name photo ID.
"Americans place great value on accredited zoos and aquariums. The voters of Collier County also recognized that value when they agreed to purchase the Fleischmann land and allow Naples Zoo to continue operating on the site. In saving the land, the citizens of Collier County were richly rewarded. It is remarkable that, without public funding, the zoo offers its community a full free day every month of the year and a 50% discount on its memberships."
Association of Zoos and Aquariums