The Sequoia Park Zoo is a zoo located in Eureka, California, operated by the City of Eureka. The zoo is part of a larger park complex including 60-acre (24 ha) of mature second-growth coast redwood forest, Eureka's largest public playground, and a duck pond, in addition to meticulously kept formal and natural gardens. The gardens include many varieties of rhododendron. The zoo's mission is "to inspire wonder, understanding and respect for the natural world by providing fun, rewarding, educational experiences that encourage meaningful connections between animals, humans, and our environment". The zoo is open to the public daily, except in winter when it is closed on Mondays. The zoo houses about 200 vertebrates and hundreds of invertebrates, representing about 54 different species on 7-acre (2.8 ha).
Sequoia Park Zoo was founded in 1907 and is the oldest zoo in California. Since then, the zoo has housed an array of animals including baboons, African lions, camels, chimpanzees, tigers, polar bears, bison and other large hoof-stock, exotic birds, and small mammals. The zoo achieved accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 1995. Since accreditation the zoo has prioritized conservation, including Species Survival Plan breeding programs and education programs. After 100 years of free entry, the zoo started charging admission in the summer of 2008. The zoo is partially supported by a foundation which operates a gift shop, cafe and zoo facility for rentals in addition to fundraising and community outreach.
Sequoia Park Zoo's educational building is named "Secrets of the Forest", which features the animals and organisms in the redwoodforest. A number of insects, reptiles and amphibians species exhibited in the Secrets of the Forest building.
In 1982, Sequoia Park Zoo was home to a family of four black bears, two parents, and their two offspring. The bears lived in an old-fashioned metal bar exhibit. The local community raised money to build a modern bear exhibit. During the construction of the new exhibit, the two bear cubs were sent to live at the Woodland Wildlife Park in Cave Junction, Oregon. The two adult bears were euthanized. Public reaction to the bears being euthanized was extremely negative with protesters quickly gathering and picketing in front of the zoo, and a petition calling for the zoo's closure gathered 5,000 signatures in the local community of 24,000. The incident received national media coverage. The zoo's director was subsequently replaced.
In 2012, the zoo faced steep criticism because of its budget. The zoo's budget had doubled in size since 2002 while other departments within the City of Eureka had faced multi-million-dollar budget cuts in the same period of time. Closure of the zoo was proposed by multiple local media sources and by prominent local politicians.