by Jessica Waytenick • April 7, 2017

Quad Cities – Two dozen new reptiles and new domestic animals are among the changes to be unveiled to Niabi guests when the Zoo opens for its 2017 season on Saturday, April 15.

“There are lots of new things to see and do at Niabi Zoo,” said Lee Jackson, director of Niabi Zoo. “We’re very excited for visitors to see our new animals and upgraded facilities. Beyond exposing guests to animals from all across the world, we want our visitors to understand that a zoo is not just a place for a family visit. It’s a place that connects us all to the natural world through conservation leadership and educational experiences.”

Niabi Zoo welcomes new animals and attractions all season long, but on opening day guests can expect to see the renovated reptile house that is now home to dozens of new reptile species, including two Baja Blue Rock Lizards, three Green Sailfin Dragons, three Leopard Tortoises, and two Bredl Pythons, among many others. Two miniature donkeys and two alpacas will also join the domestic animal area.

One exhibit in the Reptile House was converted to a “desert southwest” habitat to house multiple species that are native to the deserts of the Southwestern United States.

“The desert southwest habitat will show guests the great diversity of one of America’s most unique and demanding biological communities,” said Jackson.

In addition, multiple enhancements were made to the reptile building itself, including the installation of an air conditioning system to improve the experience for visitors over the summer months. 

Coming in May

In May, Niabi Zoo welcomes Aldabra giant tortoises, which are some of the world’s largest land tortoises. The animals can reach sizes of up to 550 pounds and ages of up to 150 years old.

Niabi is in the process of making upgrades to the Australian Outback exhibit by welcoming 200 new parakeets. The new parakeets will replace 24 lorikeets, who remain at the Zoo but are now housed in the small animal building.

“Parakeets are colorful, graceful birds that are full of energy and are a joy to watch,” said Jackson.  “Visitors will even have the opportunity to feel the energy of these bird first hand by stepping in the habitat and feeding the parakeets.” The Australian Outback will be open for Zoo guests in May based on the weather.

Coming in June

In June, the Zoo will unveil a brand new exhibit called Oceans, an aquatic-themed habitat that includes a giant Pacific octopus, a moray eel, jelly fish, fish-eating anemone, and more! 

Visitors will see other infrastructure improvements over the course of the 2017 season, including new signage.

“As you visit the Zoo this season you may notice construction projects throughout the grounds,” said Jackson. “Niabi Zoo is undergoing several construction projects to improve existing buildings and start building new facilities.”

These updates augment the improvements that were made to the Zoo late 2016, including the new playground. The new playground is roughly twice as large as the previous play structure and features soft, recycled rubber base that splits into two sections – one for children ages 1-5 years old, and a second for children 6-12 years old.

The Zoo will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Last entry will take place at 4 p.m.

Admission rates and Membership information

By purchasing a ticket to visit Niabi, visitors are helping the Zoo educate visitors about wild animals, and their related conservation issues. Without this support, Niabi would not be able to fulfill its conservation mission.

$8.25 Adults

$7.25 Senior Citizens (62 years)

$6.25 Kids (3 – 12 years old)

Kids 2 years old and under are free

Parking: $3

A small parking fee has been added to the price of admission – payable at our ticketing booth. This fee supports the Zoo’s mission of making the world a better place for all living things through preservation, conservation and education. You’ll see progress being made throughout our facility, and know that your dollars impact Niabi’s work as part of a global effort to support animals and the environment.

FREE Admission and parking to Niabi Zoological Society Members – please bring picture ID and membership card.

Train rides: $3/person

Annual membership costs range from $35 to $105 based on family size and various additional perks. Visit to learn more about becoming a member.

For more information about Niabi, its exhibits and upcoming events, visit


About Niabi Zoo

Niabi Zoo offers an opportunity to explore more than 40 acres that encompass 200 animal species from multiple continents while enjoying the countryside of Rock Island county. This exploration guides guests through the discovery of more than 600 animals representing over 200 species from around the world. The Zoo places great emphasis on educating both children and adults about the importance of conservation and how they can play a part in saving species and their ecosystems for future generations. The educational center is an important part of their mission to connect the community with the natural world through conservation leadership and engaging educational experiences. Niabi Zoo strives to instill a sense of care and understanding for wild animals in each and every visitor as they work in the community.

For more information, contact: Lee Jackson, Zoo Director, (309) 799-3482 or  

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