In 1956, the San Jose Junior Chamber of Commerce wanted to begin a project for children. At the time it was known as "Project X'', and became a reality when the City of San Jose when a parcel of land from the late Mrs. Kelly. As per her will, the land was to be devoted to children. Entering a joint agreement, the city developed the park, provided maintenance and staffing. The Junior Chamber of Commerce raised funds and helped construct unique exhibits in the Park. After hosting a contest, the park was named "Happy Hollow Children's Park.
During the mid 1960's, exotic animals from a private collection were added to areas of Kelley Park, located adjacent to Happy Hollow. It was because of this the Happy Hollow Zoo began. The facility was operated by a private contractor until 1973, at which time new management began to construct a "new zoo.'' The park and zoo were so closely located, that merging the two sites was a natural solution. In 1976, after improvements and renovations, the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo were founded.
The Happy Hollow Park and Zoo is home to a wide variety of exotic and domestic animals, and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The facility is devoted to the highest standards of animal care and professional staffing, and participates in conservation and education programs.
The facility is a small zoo and child-oriented amusement park, which attracts more than 360,000 visitors each year. In the zoo section of the park, guests will be able to view many rare and endangered animal species. Such animals included are lemurs, jaguars, zebu, donkeys, miniature horses, pygmy goats and Parma wallabies.
The amusement park includes several motorized rides, and many other attractions, such as a house of mirrors, a play area, a maze and watermill. The facility exhibits contain newspaper clippings and pictures that cover the park and zoos history.
During 2000, voters approved the passage of Proposition P, the Parks Bond Act which allocated Happy Hollow with $2 million in funds for renovations and improvements. The new renovations include an education center, animal care center, retail and gift shops, animal barns, newer rides and many more exhibits. The facility upgraded the entry plaza with a commissioned piece of art valued at $1 million. In keeping with the conservation mission, the City of San Jose and zoo constructed many green building components and environmentally friendly displays.
The Happy Hollow Park and Zoo is opened daily, 365 days per year. Admission to the zoo is subject to age and special discounts apply to senior citizens and military personnel. The facility is fully handicapped accessible, has picnic areas, a restaurant, gift shop and stroller and wheel chair rentals available.