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The US zoo sector is predicted to increase by a strong 9% in 2022 following a pandemic lull because zoos provide family entertainment and aid in animal protection. Naturally, starting a zoo is a huge endeavor, but if you love animals and enjoy giving visitors a pleasant, informative experience, you may create a successful zoo business that strengthens your community. 

But before you begin having dreams about lions, tigers, and bears, you must comprehend what it takes to launch a firm. Fortunately, you’re covered with all the information you need in this step-by-step manual to get your zoo up and running and making lots of people happy.

Step 1: Find Out if this is the Right Business for You?

Before choosing if starting a zoo is the correct choice for you, weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

Positives Vs Negatives

Have Goals: Save Endangered Species

Large Income – Although most zoos are not for profit, you should still make a comfortable living.

Zoos are entertaining for children of all ages!
Large Investment – It costs a fortune to build a zoo.

Costs Continual – Just feeding the animals is quite expensive.
  • Industry size and historical growth: The US zoo and aquarium sector is expected to be valued $2.5 billion in 2022, down 1.5% yearly on average over the previous five years.
  • Forecast for growth: In 2022, it’s expected that the US zoo and aquarium sector would expand by 9%.
  • 436 zoo and aquarium enterprises are open in the US as of 2022, according to the number of businesses.
  • In the US zoo and aquarium sector, there will be 27,267 employees in 2022.
  • Zoos are creating larger enclosures with actual trees and ponds to promote more natural behavior that is healthy for the animals as well as conservation studies.
  • Zoos are putting more of an emphasis on research, which has led to better techniques to safeguard animals and promote reproduction. 

Cost of Starting Zoo Business

A zoo may start out for $4 million to $12 million. Land and the building of buildings and enclosures are included in the costs. Animals must also be purchased, and zoos typically purchase animals from other zoos. 

You might better grasp how to take care of and handle animals if you have a degree in zoology. Many schools and institutions in the US offer online degree programs. It also helps to have prior zoo employment experience.

You may create a petting zoo or even a mobile petting zoo for kids’ parties if the financial burden of a zoo is too much for you. You might gain expertise and accumulate money in order to start your own zoo. 

Investment Items:

  • Cages for animals
  • Apparatus for feeding animals
  • Animal handling tools
  • Plumbing systems
  • Equipment and snack bars

Is Zoo Business Profitable?

Due to the fact that zoos are often nonprofit institutions, all profits must be reinvested. Furthermore, the ability for nonprofits to collect donations and government support is a crucial component. 

However, you’ll want to make your zoo as self-sufficient as you can by charging entrance and membership fees, selling food and beverages, selling items in the gift shop, and offering activities like pony rides. The typical zoo entrance fee is $15, while well-known zoos like the San Diego Zoo can charge up to $50. 

In the first year or two, you may have 100 visitors on average per day who each spend $30, generating $1,095,000 in yearly income. You would most likely be largely reliant on donations at that point to pay for your significant running expenses. 

You may have 500 visitors every day as your zoo grows in popularity, generating $5,475,000 in income annually. At this stage, you ought to be able to afford running a profitable zoo on your own and even think about expanding. 

Entry Barriers

  • Development and operation’s high initial costs
  • The qualifications needed to run a zoo and maintain animal wellbeing

Step 2: Create a Strategy

Now that you are aware of the requirements for establishing a zoo, it would be a good idea to develop your idea before competing in a crowded market. 

Even if you already know you have the ideal product or service, market research will give you the edge. Market research is crucial since it may aid in your understanding of your clients, your rivals, and your industry.

Identify a Gap

Examine the offerings, costs, and evaluations of local zoos by conducting research on them. You’re aiming to fill a market gap. For instance, perhaps there isn’t a zoo in the area that has huge beasts in their native habitats or that includes birds like ostriches.

Your word-of-mouth advertising may pick up steam as a result, drawing customers in immediately.


You’ll charge zoo entrance, and you may also charge for extras like pony rides, guided tours, or a petting zoo. Snacks and presents might also bring in money for you. 


About $15 is typically required for zoo entry. To ensure you’re offering zoo admission at a reasonable price, research zoo pricing in your city or state. 

To calculate your markup and final price points after knowing your costs, utilize our Step By Step Profit Margin Calculator. Keep in mind that the prices you employ at launch should be flexible and subject to adjustment as the market demands.

Target Market

Young families will make up the bulk of your target market. You may advertise to them on Facebook and Instagram. You might also inquire about field excursions from nearby schools and corporate activities from nearby businesses. You can find them on Yelp, Google, and LinkedIn. 

Step 3: Write a Business Plan

Every organization requires a plan. This will serve as a manual to help you launch your firm and stay focused on your major objectives. A business plan also aids in the better understanding of your firm and its goals by possible investors and partners:

  • A concise synopsis of the full business strategy should be prepared as the executive summary.
  • Overview of the business, including its vision, mission, ownership, and goals.
  • Products and Services: Clearly describe what you have to offer.
  • Market Analysis: Conduct a SWOT analysis and evaluate market trends, such as variances in demand and development potential.
  • Competitive Analysis: Evaluate your primary rivals’ strengths and shortcomings while compiling a list of your services’ benefits.
  • Sales and marketing: Consider the unique selling propositions (USPs) of your businesses and create sales, marketing, and promotional plans.
  • Management Team: A description of the management team’s functions and backgrounds, as well as a corporate organizational chart.
  • Operations strategy: The operational strategy for your business outlines logistics, office location, essential assets, and equipment.
  • Three-year financial plan with startup expenses, break-even analysis, profit and loss projections, cash flow, and balance sheet.
  • Include any extra financial or commercial documentation in the appendix.

Step 4: Create a Marketing Plan

You should still spend in digital marketing even though some of your customers will be passing byers or internet visitors. For new firms, spreading the word is crucial since it will increase brand and client recognition. 

Once it’s up and running, connect your social media accounts to your website and vice versa. Social media is a fantastic tool for company promotion since you can make interesting postings that promote your goods: 

  • Facebook is a fantastic paid advertising tool since it lets you target particular demographics, such as males under 50 in the Cleveland region.
  • Instagram offers the same advantages as Facebook, but with distinct target markets.
  • Website: SEO will make your website more visible at the top of relevant search results, which is essential for boosting sales. Make sure to optimize your website’s calls to action. Try different combinations of text, color, size, and placement for calls to action like “Buy Tickets Now.” This may significantly enhance sales.
  • Google and Yelp: For companies that depend on local clients, listing on Google My Business and Yelp might be essential to attracting attention and clients.
  • Put up eye-catching signs at your zoo and on your website.
  • Post a video — Post a zoo-related video. Use comedy, and it can become popular online!
  • Email marketing/newsletter: Contact clients and potential clients on a regular basis. Make them your own.
  • Create a blog. Post consistently on your new blog. Share on many websites and vary your material.
  • Make press releases announcing new exhibits.
  • Paid social media advertisements should be placed on platforms that will allow you to reach your target audience.
  • Pay-per-click advertising: To rank higher in searches, use Google AdWords. First, do some keyword research.
  • Pay individuals with huge social media fan bases to advertise your zoo through influencer marketing. Micro-influencers with smaller audiences and cheaper prices are available.