Zoo History

Applegate Park is the oldest park in Merced, purchased in part with a bequest by Lewis H. Applegate for the citizens and visitors of Merced in the 1920's.

Birds and other animals were donated to the City over the years and cages were built in the park to house them. By 1960, the Recreation and Parks Commission and the City of Merced saw the need to construct better facilities for the welfare of the animals.

Applegate Park Zoo was constructed at its current location in 1961-62, providing new and improved accommodations for the ever-expanding collection of birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Applegate Park Zoo has been home to many wild animals which, due to injuries or other conditions, could not be released to the wild or were surplus animals from other zoos. A regional theme has been adopted by the zoo, focusing on native species of animals and plants of the Central San Joaquin Valley and the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains.

California Natives

We specialize in California native animals and currently house two black bears, two bobcats, several mule deer, a coyote, raccoons, red and gray foxes, a California desert tortoise, water fowl, a variety of birds of prey. The majority of zoo residents were either confiscated (as illegal pets) or rescues.

Explore Global Diversity

Merced has two sister cities: Albury, Australia, and Somoto, Nicaragua. Our zoo houses some non-native animals that are native to our sister cities, like white faced Capuchin monkeys, a pair of emus, tortoises, black swans, finches, and diamond doves.

The Master plan

The master plan for our zoo's future provides for increasing the number of exhibits as well as the development of each exhibit to replicate the natural habitats of the native birds, mammals, and reptiles that live here at the zoo. The Merced Garden Club, local 4H Clubs and others assist the zoo by planting and maintaining very attractive landscaping in several locations around the zoo. The Rossotti Ed-Zoo-Cation Center was opened in August 2009 to provide a venue for a variety of educational programs.