New “Thelma Vetter Red Panda Experience” – NOW OPEN!


Red-Panda This impressive brand new habitat is being made possible through a very generous bequest made by the estate of long-time Atascadero resident, Thelma Vetter.

Thelma VetterThelma and her husband William Vetter moved to Atascadero in 1946 and had the insight to purchase numerous commercial properties in town. William passed away in 1993. Thelma was very active in the Atascadero Historical Society and the Friends of the Atascadero Library, among other local organizations and often gave generously to various charities. Thelma passed away in 2009 at the age of 91. Thelma Vetter was a kind and caring person who loved animals and was very concerned for their welfare. She left this significant bequest specifically for zoo improvements. Glen R. Lewis, trustee of the Thelma Vetter Estate, says that Thelma was a very private person and didn’t seek recognition, but he feels that in this case she should be publicly acknowledged for her overwhelming generosity.



The new “Thelma Vetter Red Panda Experience” is the first, from the ground-up, newly-built exhibit constructed at the Charles Paddock Zoo in nearly four decades; it is a thoroughly modern exhibit with a “green” design and interactive display. It was built with the idea of easily connecting future exhibits by overhead walkways and ramps. The completion of this exhibit marks the launch of the zoo’s Biodiversity Hotspot theme. Each of the Biodiversity Hotspot exhibit will be designed to be an immersive and interactive journey with both passive and dynamic features to educate visitors about the culture, plant life, extinction or other threats to each animal.

The Indo-Burma Hotspot (represented by this habitat) is a conservation priority area due to its highly threatened plant and animal life and limited remaining natural habitat.  This beautiful, new Indo-Burma experience at the Charles Paddock Zoo features various species of mammals, reptiles, and birds from this region of the world, including the Red Panda, Binturong, Chinese Muntjac, Asian Brown Tortoise, Asian Ratsnake, Nicobar Pigeon, Black-Naped Fruit Dove, Laughing Thrush, Red Vented Bulbul and Lady Amherst Pheasant. Other animals from this region are also on exhibit at the Zoo, including the Malayan Tiger and Prevost’s Squirrel.

For more information on the Zoo’s master plan or for information on supporting the continuing development of the Charles Paddock Zoo, please contact zoo’s director, Alan Baker at

Architect Thom Jess of Arris Studio Architects has been hired to design the new exhibit.

Red Panda Exhibit -layout-cropped

Red Panda Exhibit-cropped


Credit: City of Atascadero Press Release, January 27, 2015.

Park Hours

Open 7 days a week
April 1 st – October 31 st:
10:00 am to 5:00 pm

November 1 st – March 31 st:
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

Admission Prices

Adults 13 & over: $10.00

Children 5 to 12: $8.00

Children 3 to 4: $5.00

Seniors 65+: $9.00

Children 2 years & under — FREE

Our Location

Charles Paddock Zoo is located at 9100 Morro Road, Atascadero, CA 93422

Contact Us

Phone: 805.461.5080

Email us at


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