Sierra Safari Zoo

Photo By Andrea Rivers

Sierra Safari Zoo, 10200 N. Virginia St., Reno, NV 89506, 677-1101,

Spring is fast approaching. The weather is getting warmer; the trees and flowers are blooming; the days are getting longer. Another indicator of the arrival of spring: The Sierra Safari Zoo, Nevada’s largest zoo, will open for its 12th season April 1.

Before re-opening, the zoo is hosting a “Spring Fling—Artist & Animals” fundraiser March 21 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. John Tyson, of “John Tyson’s Journal” on KOLO Channel 8, will emcee the event. The fundraiser is being held at the Kerak Shrine Temple, 4935 Energy Way. Tickets are available for $100 per person, and proceeds will go toward helping feed and care for the zoo’s animals.

The event will feature paintings and sculptures by local artists of exotic animals and the opportunity to buy local art during a silent auction with Lightning Williams of Lightning Auctions. There will also be samplings from some Reno area restaurants, caricatures by Jeff Hickman and photo opportunities with some of the zoo’s new baby animals. The event will be a fun evening, with the added benefit of helping a good community cause.

“This is really a win-win situation,” says Dianemarie Collins, a spokeswoman for the zoo.

The Sierra Safari Zoo is a non-profit corporation run by the Sierra Nevada Zoological Society, and it is located at 10200 N. Virginia St. The zoo has brought delight and education to people in the Reno area since 1989, attracting an average of 25,000 people each year to visit the facility’s 120 animals, including baboons, lions, tigers, cougars, reptiles and birds. More than 40 species are represented.

The zoo also has a hands-on area, where visitors can touch and interact with some of the gentler animals. One of the zoo’s goals is to bring humans and animals together. Many of the animals at the facility are selected for the Reno climate.

There is only one paid position at the Sierra Safari Zoo, so the zoo depends primarily on volunteers. The zoo is always looking for reliable people to volunteer their time to help out with the animals and the growth of the facility. Some of the qualifications to become a volunteer include loving and wanting to help care for animals, being at least 16 years old, donating at least four hours of your time each week and having your own transportation to the zoo. Anyone interested in volunteering can learn more online at, or by visiting the zoo’s gift shop.

If you don’t have time to donate, you can still help with tax-deductible donations or with the adopt-an-animal program, in which volunteers help care for and feed the animals during the five months that the zoo is closed.

“The zoo is still looking for a corporate sponsor in the community to adopt the zoo as their community corporate outreach,” Collins says. “We would love that.”

The Sierra Safari Zoo will be open from April 1 through Oct. 31. The zoo’s hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, weather permitting. Admission prices for this season have not yet been announced. Group rates and special tours are available for parties of 12 or more, and annual memberships are also available. For more information, directions to the zoo or to RSVP for the Spring Fling, call 677-1101 or visit