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Free Zoo Membership - San Diego Zoo too

Updated on June 1, 2017

Economizing: Free and Discount Zoo Admission(s).

Economizing: Free and Discount Zoo Admission(s).
Economizing: Free and Discount Zoo Admission(s). | Source

Free Fun for the Year.

Visit zoos for free this year. Summer is a time that families can get outside and enjoy time together, but going to a zoo is an opportunity to take advantage of year round. A great inexpensive way to do this is to get a yearly zoo pass from a major local zoo. There are many different levels of membership to choose from. My family is close to the Toledo Zoo and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo so I will share information about these two zoos. The San Diego Zoo will also be covered because it is the best zoo I have visited to date. Although, if you go to the website of your closest zoo - you will find information specific to that zoo and more valuable to you and your family. There are great opportunities for zoo coupons and discounts and I am here to offer information on how to enjoy the benefits. Let's begin with the Toledo Zoo.

Orangutans at the Toledo Zoo

Family time at the Toledo Zoo
Family time at the Toledo Zoo

The Toledo Zoo

The Toledo Zoo Membership page shows the Supporting Family Membership at $101.00 to $109.00. If you and/or your family would visit a couple times in a year, then this is a great zoo discount and pays for itself in savings of admission fees and parking. Th Supporting Family Membership admits two adults, any children living at home under 21 years of age, and an extra five guest privileges (passes) that may be used at anytime in the year. Here is a list of bonuses:

  • All Toledo Zoo memberships are fully tax-deductible
  • FREE year-round admission during regular Zoo hours
  • FREE parking for one vehicle in the AnthonyWayneTrail lot
  • FREE or discounted admission to more than 125 reciprocal zoos across the country
  • FREE visit to The Lights Before Christmas
  • FREE Safari! and Safar-E-Mail publications
  • Opportunity to purchase Summer Concert Series tickets in advance
  • 10% discount at Toledo Zoo gift shops
  • 10% discount on EdZOOcational classes
  • Toledo Zoo auto decal

The first listed item is the big reason this is so economical. If you are a person that would attend the zoo a couple times during the year; you would save on the cost of admission, parking, and since this is considered a donation to a non-profit organization you can use it as a tax deduction. And the Toledo Zoo has a list of all the reciprocal zoos on their Reciprocal Zoos page. A great offer if you only visit the Toledo Zoo, but even better if you visit other zoos listed. Free admission to 50% off the cost of admission can make family trips full of diverse options on what to see and help with saving money.

Koala Bears
Koala Bears

The Cleveland Zoological Society

My family chooses the Toledo Zoo for membership even though the Cleveland Zoo offers more discounts and coupons in association with participating zoos. The Cleveland Zoo works with more zoos across the nation than the Toledo Zoo does by approximately 50 more zoos at the time of this article being written. The disadvantage for my family is that we have family that lives in Toledo and unfortunately the Cleveland Zoo and Toledo Zoo only reciprocate a 50% discount on admissions to the other participant's members. Both are great deals, this just makes the point that one must look at the extras before deciding which zoo to become a member of.

The closest equivalent package that my family would use for visiting the Cleveland Zoo would be $124.00 but as the Cleveland Zoological Society Membership Packages page shows it offers, "All the benefits of a family membership, plus two guests on every visit (cardholder must be present with guests at the time of every visit), as well as invitations to special events and exhibit previews. Free gift with enrollment." The family package is two adults, children, or grandchildren under the age of eighteen. For a complete list of zoos that participate with the Cleveland Zoological Society there is a link on their Join page to take a visitor to a complete list of reciprocal zoos.

To show that every zoo is slightly different these are the extras on the Cleveland Zoological Societies membership package:

Membership Benefits

  • FREE unlimited admission to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and The RainForest for one year
  • 50% Off admission to reciprocating zoos.
  • FREE subscription to Z, our fun and informative member publication
  • INVITATIONS to member-only events
  • FREE printable temporary membership cards sent to email
  • FREE parking
  • 10% DISCOUNT at all Zoo gift shops
  • DISCOUNTS on Zoo education and camp programs, birthday parties, and events, including Boo at the Zoo, Twilight at the Zoo, and more
  • ALL memberships are fully tax-deductible

Polar Bear Greeting

San Diego Zoo Polar Bear
San Diego Zoo Polar Bear

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is the best zoo I have visited. The membership for the San Diego Zoo is slightly different than the Toledo Zoo or the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. There are restrictions to where members may live designated by zip-code and a family would have to receive a couple memberships to cover the whole family. Although, the cost does come close to matching the Toledo Zoo and the Cleveland Zoological Society. My family would need Dual Membership for $106.00, this would cover my wife and I. Then we would also need two of the Koala Child for $35.00 a piece. The total price would be $176.00 for a free year of admission for my family. And these are two lists that the San Diego Zoo has on the San Diego Zoo Member Benefits for the Koala Child and the Dual Membership:

Dual and single membership benefits include:

  • Unlimited admission to the San Diego Zoo and the San DiegoZooSafari Park for one full year
  • Two free guest passes (a $69 value)
  • Free Africa Tram at the Safari Park (save $10 each time)
  • Free Skyfari aerial tram at the Zoo (save $4 each time)
  • Four discount guest coupons (a $20 value)
  • Four 2-for-1 Zoo Bus Tour coupons (a $34 value)
  • ZOONOOZ® magazine subscription (a $25 value)
  • Monthly member specials

Please note that under IRS guidelines, the estimated value of membership benefits is not substantial, therefore, the full amount is a deductible contribution.

Koala Club benefits include:

  • Unlimited admission to the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park for one full year
  • Free Africa Tram at the Safari Park (save $7 each time)
  • Free Skyfari aerial tram at the Zoo (save $4 each time)
  • One free pass for a Zoo Bus tour (a $5 value)

Great Savings and Opportunities

A zoo is often thought of during the summer season, but the opportunity is offered year round in most cases. Take advantage of being able to see creatures from around the world during any time of year. The zoo is a great time to spend with family, help children grasp the concept of a larger world, and get out of the house and be active, and have the opportunity to see unique and possibly rare creatures. I sincerely hope you all take advantage of an opportunity such as this.

The benefits offered with a zoo membership make it a hard offer to pass up, even better is the fact that a contribution of this amount is fully tax deductible. Check to make sure the zoo you are joining is a non-profit organization and keep the receipt from signing up. Children light up at seeing new things or even if the animals act different from time to time. My daughter has seen a baby polar bear playing, running, and jumping off rocks into water. She has had monkeys put their face up against the window within a couple inches from her and kiss the glass. For a child, these are unique and thrilling experiences and from a parent's perspective it is amazing to see the delight on my children's faces and expose them to these experiences.


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    • CJ Andrews profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Andrews 

      7 years ago from Norwalk, Ohio

      Not around here or about 170 other zoos that I could list in the United States. If you do have one, you are lucky if you like the zoo. :)

    • forlan profile image


      7 years ago

      I thought it is free to visit the zoo

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      7 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I love zoos. So far I've visited the San Diego Zoo, Lion Country Safari a few decades ago, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Tustin Zoo, and our local Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero, CA. I've been thinking about going back to Charles Paddock and wondering if a membership might be a good idea.

    • Late2class profile image


      7 years ago from Troy, IL

      I live in St.Louis and our Zoo is completely free to visit. It's great, everyone should come out and see it!!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. I love zoos, and the San Diego Zoo is one of my favorites. Often, zoo's will have a free day once or twice a year. This is a great time for home school families to visit, as well as anyone else wanting to economize. Great hub.


    • Krysanthe profile image

      Kathy Hull 

      7 years ago from Bloomington, Illinois

      Another great free zoo is the St. Louis Zoo. Parking however, is not free. But the Zoo itself is in a park where you can park for free and walk to the zoo. There are also several attractions in the zoo itself where a fee is charged, but a great day can be had with out visiting them.

      Great Hub.

    • CJ Andrews profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Andrews 

      7 years ago from Norwalk, Ohio

      I am glad that it helped. I didn't know this until this year, but my kids are still young so we can take advantage of this for a long time.

    • cardelean profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan

      I didn't know that zoo memberships are tax deductible, great tip! The other really nice thing is that the reciprocity agreements are not just for zoos in your area but are nation wide. So if you are visiting someplace else, check to see if they are part of the agreement and you can visit that zoo for half off the admission cost.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I wish we have a zoo in our city. The kids will really love it for our field trip. :)

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination: To read and vote in the 1001 Arabian Hubnuggets:

      To participate in the Hubnuggets forum:

    • kafsoa profile image


      7 years ago

      I really like your hub and it really deserves to be nominated. Good economic tips. Thank you and congratz :)

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      7 years ago from Western New York

      This is very interesting. I never realized zoo memberships were deductible! We are Erie Zoo members, so I'll have to remember this for tax-time next year!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      7 years ago

      Loved your informative and interesting Hub on Zoo's. When my kids were little we used to spend a lot of time at the Bronx Zoo...Many Happy memories there. I look forward to following you...Hope you will join me as well!

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      7 years ago from France

      Sounds like a great idea. I'll need to ckeck out if the zoo's around my area offer that kind of deal. I know that there are two days a year when entrance is free (although restricted to certain areas) but it would be worth knowing if they offer the same deals as the USA zoo's.

    • CJ Andrews profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Andrews 

      7 years ago from Norwalk, Ohio

      How they work out to be free if you buy a membership almost all zoos are non-profit organizations. And this membership fee is actually considered a contribution. You can write it off on your taxes. And since it is a small amount 100% of it can be written off. Making it free. Check out the membership portion of any zoo you visit. The membership will also list free and discount admission zoos that are associated with it.

      Membership Has Its Benefits!

      Renew in August and Receive An Extra Month of Membership for no additional charge!

      FREE Year-Round Zoo Admission

      Early sign-up and discounts on all Education Programs, including Zoo Camp!

      FREE or Discounted Admission to Riverbanks, Zoo Atlanta and more than 130 other zoos around the country. Click here to see the complete list.

      FREE or Discounted Admission to Special Events such as Boo in the Zoo and Hot Dog Day.

      10 percent discount in the gift shop

      Quarterly Newsletters, Updates and Notices of Special Events

      Guest Tickets that are good for an admission to the Greenville Zoo

      $112.00 is peacock package: two named adults, grandchildren, and four guests any time. Save the receipt and write it off at tax time.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      We have several zoo's within driving distance but I am not so sure they are free. My grandkids went to the Greenville SC zoo and really had a great time. My brother lives in Asheboro, the home of our state zoo and it is huge.


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