Chahinkapa Zoo

Please click here for the Chahinkapa Zoo website.


Chahinkapa Zoo is home to over 300 animals representing 100 species and six continents, including an orangutan, tigers, otters, leopards, monkeys, lemurs, apes, bison, kangaroos, camels, zebras, and more. The newest zoo attractions are the two white rhinos that arrived in May 2018. They are the only rhinos in the state of North Dakota.
A history of Chahinkapa Zoo:
  • In 1903, Wahpeton purchased the land from the federal government. Thirty years later the first Park Board was established under the direction of R.J. Hughes, known as the founder of Chahinkapa Park. The Chahinkapa Zoo was also established at this time with modest animal displays.
  • In the later 60's, the zoo was moved from a small oxbow to its present 18 acre location at the north end of Chahinkapa Park. The Chahinkapa Zoo Association was formed in 1974 to develop a plan for renovation and improvements.
  • In 1984, a five-year master plan was developed, emphasizing a "clean and green" theme, incorporating a broad base of community support.
  • The Rodger Ehnstrom Nature Center was dedicated in 1989, the hub of all zoo education.
  • The first Zoo Director was hired in 1994.
  • In 1995 the Chahinkapa Zoo was accredited by the AZA (American Zoo and Aquarium Association), following a 1994 IMLS General Operating Grant which helped achieve acreditation standards.
  • In April of 1997, flood waters inundated the Red River Valley, including the Chahinkapa Zoo. All animals were safely evacuated. Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, the zoo reopened to the public on May 24, 1997.
  • In the fall of 1997 a $2 million dollar levee project was constructed along the river to protect the zoo and the north side of Wahpeton from 500 yearflood levels. The zoo was re-built with new exhibits, pathways and a petting zoo.
  • The zoo was accredited by the AZA for a second term in 2000.
  • The Chahinkapa Zoo received a GOS grant from IMLS in 2002.
  • 2003-2004 Chahinkapa Zoo received a MAP Grant.
  • In 2005, the zoo was accredited for a third term by the AZA.
  • Construction began for the orangutan habitat in 2008 to be completed by 2010.
  • Chahinkapa Zoo is home to over 200 animals representing 70 species.
  • The zoo was accredited by the AZA for a fourth term in 2010.


1004 R.J. Hughes Drive WahpetonND  58075