Henry Vilas Zoo

Cause Area

  • Animals
  • Children & Youth
  • Community
  • Education & Literacy
  • Environment


702 S. Randall AvenueMadison, WI 53715 United States

Organization Information

Mission Statement

Henry Vilas Zoo Mission: Dedicated to exceptional animal care and conserving wildlife through local engagement and global partnerships. Henry Vilas Zoo Vision: Locally loved community treasure, globally recognized conservation leader; forever accessible.


We are proud to be one of only a few admission-free, community-supported zoos across the country. Thank you for supporting our mission to conserve and protect the wonders of the living natural world.

On June 30, 1904, Col. William and Anna Vilas gave a large tract of land to the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association "for the uses and purposes of a public park and pleasure ground." The park was named in memory of the Vilas’ son, Henry, who died at a young age due to complications from diabetes. In 1911, the first animal exhibits were created, representing the beginning of Henry Vilas Zoo. In what has proved to be a defining and truly visionary move, the Vilas family stipulated the park be free to the public. As the zoo developed within the park, it too remained free thanks to community support.

The Henry Vilas Zoo is one of ten remaining free zoos in North America. As an accredited AZA ( Association of Zoos & Aquariums) zoo, our mission is to conserve and protect the wonders of the natural living world.


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