Opened in 1933, Chahinkapa Zoo was the first zoo in North Dakota. It began with a modest collection of animals. In the late 1960s, the zoo was moved to its current location. Since then, with the help of the Chahinkapa Zoo Association, the zoo has continued to grow. In 1997, the zoo faced its most significant challenge. The zoo was flooded due to heavy rain in the Red River Valley, but all the animals were rescued and moved to higher ground. A new levee was built to protect the zoo and the town. Animal exhibits and a new petting zoo were constructed following these new protective measures.
The zoo currently features animals from six continents as well as from North Dakota. The zoo is divided into two sections, one on either side of the levee. On the east side are the hoof-stock, pheasants, and cougars, and on the west side are the orangutan, rhinoceros, and other animals. The zoo has a unique feature, its tortoise corral, where visitors can interact with several species of tortoise. All together the zoo is home to 200 animals representing about 70 species. It is accredited by the AZA and has been reaccredited each renewal since it was first accredited in 1995.
Chahinkapa Zoo is involved in many Species Survival Plans, including work with black-handed spider monkeys, fossas, and white rhinoceroses. As part of their conservation work, the zoo works hard to connect visitors to the wild animals and foster an understanding of why conservation is necessary.