The Roosevelt Park Zoo was established in 1920 with the first animal being a male bison from Montana. The following year a bear den and zoological building were added to the zoo. During the 1940s through the 1960s, the zoo animal population greatly increased and the area started to look like a zoo.

The flood of ’69 caused every bird and animal to be moved from the zoo which led to the redesign of the zoo grounds. The foot bridge, a feline house, and a new bear den were constructed.

Throughout the following years to the present, additions of new animals, new exhibits and the participation in the Species Survival Program have greatly enhanced the zoo.

The Roosevelt Park Zoo is Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.



1920 – The zoo was established in Roosevelt Park. The first zoo animal was a male bison from Montana.
1921 – The bear den and zoological building were constructed with funding from a bond issued through the Minot Park Board.

1930s – Zoo construction was greatly slowed due to the Great Depression. The zoo staff was reduced to two people. The superintendent’s wages were paid by his use of an office and typewriter to continue his editorial work with the Congress of American Parks.

1940s – During and after World War II, salvageable equipment, boiler pipe, and “hog” wire were used to build more pens for the zoo. The zoo now included deer, bison, elk, lions, cougars, black bear, Rhesus monkeys, llama, coyotes, various rodents, and an abundant display of native waterfowl.

1950s-1960s – In the 1950s and continuing through the 1960s more animals were added to the zoo including Fallow deer and Sika deer. The cages and pens were lacking in upkeep and cleanliness. The zoo became a place that people drove by slowly but seldom stopped to visit. The zoo’s condition was not due to apathy on the part of the park system, but simply due to a lack of moneys. In the mid 1960s the community demanded that more be done in the upkeep of the zoo. In response the park board began to appropriate more financial resources for the zoo. Chain link fencing started replacing “hog” wire, old straw and wire shelters gave way to concrete block shelters. The zoo began to resemble a “zoo.”

1969 – The Minot community suffered its greatest flood since 1905. The zoo and park areas were under water for 40 days and 40 nights. Every bird and animal had to be moved. They were kept at the local Burlington Northern stockyards until the water had receded. The flood was a blessing in disguise; it gave the zoo a chance to be redesigned.


1970 – The zoo, which had always been part of Roosevelt Park, separated and gained its own identity. The park board allocated more moneys to streamline the pens holding hoofed stock. The Greater Minot Zoological Society was formed, primarily to assist in building a new home for the large cats.

1971 – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of a new river channel for the Mouse River. The new channel cut the zoo into two areas. Because of this, improvements to the zoo were halted.

1975 – The Park Board allocated $250,000 for zoo construction and a matching grant was obtained through a B.O.R. A new 379-foot bridge was built to connect the “two” zoos. New pens for the hoofed stock were built, all with moat areas. The Children’s Zoo was constructed with the help of the Exchange Club. A new feline house was built to house our lions, tigers, jaguars and cougars.

1979 – A new bear den for the Kodiaks was built to replace the old bear den that was constructed in 1921. This was done by a bond issue approved by 83% of the people.

1980 – Camels were added to the zoo’s collection.

1981 – The Park Board initiated a gate admission at the zoo to help defray costs.

1982 – Zebras were added to the zoo’s collection.

1984 – A master plan for the zoo was written by McFadzean, Everly, and Associates from Mt. Prospect, Illinois.

1985 – According to the master plan, a new parking area and entrance gates were constructed.

1986 – The North American exhibits was started. The inside of the feline exhibit was also remodeled.

1987 – The North American exhibit was completed. The next major exhibit would be the African exhibit. The inside of the education building was also remodeled.

1988 – A bobcat exhibit was added.

1989 – A giraffe exhibit was built and the lemur exhibit was added.


1990 – Giraffes were added to the zoo’s collection.

1991 – The zebra, eland and camel exhibits were rebuilt including new barns. Snow leopards were added to the zoo’s collection. The zoo begins participation in the Species Survival Program (SSP) for snow leopards.

1992 – Concrete barns started to replace the old rock shelters; two were completed this year, leaving three to be completed in 1993.

1993 – The new shelters in the hoofed stock area were completed. The zoo exchanged its ring-tailed and brown lemurs for red-ruffed and black & white-ruffed lemurs. These additions were part of the Species Survival Program (SSP) for lemurs.

1994 – The zoo built an African penguin exhibit and begins participation in the Species Survival Program (SSP) for African penguins.

1995 – The African eland exhibit was exchanged for a gemsbok exhibit. The penguin exhibit was opened to the public. A patio area was constructed on the north side of the Education Building. This area was intended for special events and outdoor classroom purposes. A new alligator exhibit was incorporated within the waterfowl area and removed from the existing site.

1996 – Plans were started to add a Discovery Barn/Education exhibit in the Children’s Zoo area. The front entrance was redesigned and all exhibit signs were replaced and updated. The winter of 1996-1997 was the first winter that the zoo was closed.

1997 – During the fall of 1997, excavation began for the Discovery Barn. Pens and buildings were moved in preparation for the building’s opening in the spring of 1998. A new ostrich exhibit was added. A winter holding area attached to the kangaroo exhibit was opened.

1998 – The Discovery Barn opened in spring of 1998.

1999 – Guenther’s dik-dik antelope were added to the zoo’s collection.


2000 – African warthogs were added to the zoo’s collection.

2001 – Bongos were added to the zoo’s collection.

2002 – Two Siamang Gibbons were added to the zoo’s collection. First Baby Bongo was born at the Zoo. New Poison Dart frog exhibit was constructed in the Ed Center.

2003 – A young pair of giraffes, and a young pair of Amur Leopards were brought into the zoo both through the Species Survival Plan (SSP). Construction on the North American River Otter Exhibit, built by the Greater Minot Zoological Society. Great Horned Owls are introduced to the zoo.

2004 – The Otter exhibit held its grand opening. Three otters were brought in for the new exhibit. A new tortoise exhibit, and duck pond overlook were constructed by Eagle Scouts & funded by the GMZS. An Amur Leopard cub was born in November.

2005 – West African Crowned Cranes were brought into the zoo and displayed with the bongos. Eagle Scouts projects included a sitting area near the Lemurs. A wild-caught grizzly bear makes his home at the Roosevelt Park Zoo.

2006 – The zoo added a couple colorful paintings to help enrich the visitors zoo experience. The penguin mural was painted on the perimeter wall by the penguin pool and exhibit. It was painted by the Minot area Companions for Children group. The children themselves had a hand at painting the beautiful work of art. We also painted the waterfall backdrop at the entrance of the zoo. The Education Department’s “Wonder Wagon” was constructed. The zoo went through a Strategic Planning Session.

2007 – The Children’s Zoo Barn burnt down in March. With insurance money and donations, we were able to reconstruct the barn and have it open before the end of June. The giraffe feeding station was opened in late June. The concession stand was renovated during the off season and made record profits during the summer. New animals brought to the zoo included a male African Lion, a pair of Trumpeter Hornbills, four Egyptian Tortoises, and a female Chestnut Mandible Toucan. Our three bears were finally introduced and had a wonderful summer entertaining our visitors. Education programs continue to grow including an amazing zoo camp this summer; Penguin Adventures. Our Teens for Planet Earth group was formed this year and they took on cleaning up Wildwood Park in Velva after the snow storm of 2005 devastated the habitat and trail system.