Our Impact

The Buttonwood Park Zoo and the Zoological Society had a successful, mission-driven year in 2019.


Our Impact Report shares the highlights of that work and demonstrates how your support fuels our conservation and education mission.

Thanks to your generosity, Buttonwood Park Zoo broke records for attendance, membership, volunteer participation, programs, and charitable donors. Everything we accomplished last year – from educating almost 14,000 school children about wildlife conservation, to advancing the survival of endangered species — originates with you.

We can’t thank you enough for all that you make possible. Without you, there is no Zoo!

Celebrating 125 Years

Buttonwood Park Zoo celebrated its milestone 125th anniversary in 2019 with a host of community events and activities. “Everyone who grew up in or around New Bedford has a Zoo story,” said local attorney Adrienne Beauregard Rheaume, who chaired the Zoo’s 125th Anniversary Celebration. “The Zoo is part of our identity as a community.” What began in 1894 as an animal menagerie — a way to educate residents about wild animals in a time before mass media – is today a modern, accredited institution and the number one cultural attraction on the South Coast. BPZOO’s transformative Master Plan, now being implemented, leads the institution toward new opportunities, and new relevance, as an environmental organization focused on education and conservation. “We can make this one of the best small zoos in the world,” said Zoo Director Keith Lovett. “In the process, we can not only play a substantial role in the revitalization of New Bedford, but also inspire future generations to care about, and be connected to, the natural world.”

In 2019, BPZOO had a $16 million economic impact on New Bedford

Zoo Hosts International Conference

Buttonwood Park Zoo had the distinct honor of hosting the New World Primate Husbandry Workshop this year. Typically held at large facilities, such as the San Diego Zoo, workshops like these bring together zoo professionals from around the world for an interactive learning experience. The star of this year’s workshop was BPZOO’s innovative Rainforests, Rivers & Reefs exhibit, which boasts an impressive transfer chute system allowing zookeepers to move primate species through multiple indoor and outdoor habitats. Providing ample opportunities for movement stimulates natural behavior and is an essential part of maintaining our high standard of animal care. What a treat to share our BPZOO animal welfare innovations with the international zoo community!

151,000 guests

A record-setting year!

Red Panda Mania

In its 125th year of operation, BPZOO opened its first red panda habitat, welcoming two young red pandas. Easily the cutest animal residents on the SouthCoast, red pandas Jacob and Marie have quickly become guest favorites. With fewer than 10,000 red pandas remaining in the wild and habitats that are shrinking drastically, accredited zoos across the world are working collaboratively to ensure their survival. BPZOO partners with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for red pandas to ensure the sustainability of a healthy and diverse population while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild. Jacob and Marie were recommended by AZA as a strong (genetic) match — we hope they think so, too!

16 CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIPS helped protect animals and habitats across five continents

Get On Board! 2,000 Students Travel On Free Buses

First and second graders in the New Bedford Public Schools (NBPS) have something in common: a much-anticipated field trip to BPZOO. A leading provider of environmental education in the region, the Zoo offers 23 distinct, curriculum-based programs for students K-12. Nearly 50% of the programs we present each year are provided free-of-charge to NBPS students. As a critical science partner for local schools, BPZOO offers STEM learning experiences in an immersive environment unlike any other. With both admission and programming free of charge for NBPS, more than 5,000 New Bedford children experienced the Zoo in 2019. Despite free programming, one big challenge remains: the cost of transportation. Thanks to a generous donor, though, we were able to underwrite transportation costs for first and second graders from NBPS. We’ll add our voice to those first and second graders to enthusiastically shout – thank you!

13,846 STUDENTS from area schools learned how to save wildlife and make conservation a priority

A Gift That Lasts All Year! 

BPZOO Memberships make a perfect gift for the animal lover in your life.