Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo

The only natural tropical rainforest zoo in the U.S.

The only one of its kind in the country, this is a zoo worth visiting. Set in a natural tropical rain forest, this 12-acre gem is located north of Hilo. Among its many special features is Namaste, a rare white Bengal tiger who has a fan club and holds court in a one-acre enclosure. Fascinating denizens include unusual and endangered plants and animals: rare palms and orchids, iguana, cranes, butterflies, and frogs that look like Martians. Namaste’s October birthday brings birthday cake and throngs of well-wishers, and you can watch him being fed daily. Fellow residents include colorful tree frogs, giant anteaters, lemurs, spider monkeys and more. Children love the petting zoo, and families often bring snacks or a picnic lunch. Admission is free: donations can be left at the front entrance.

Two miles north of Hilo on Hwy. 11, 808.959.7224, ZOO