Mission & Conservation ~

A mission of education, protection, and caring

Our Mission

“Inspiring wildlife conservation and animal wellbeing through memorable experiences.”

How the Zoo Grew

The spirit of an adolescent boy, who lived in Wheeling and who died too soon, inspired this facility that is unique in scope and purpose. After the death of their oldest son, seven-year old Philip Mayer Good in 1971, the Laurance F. Good family pledged a substantial gift in his memory for the creation of a zoo at Oglebay. Energized by the enthusiasm of the Good family, the zoo concept caught on immediately. Thousands of contributions poured in, some in the form of pennies collected by school children. Because of this interest, the original ten-acre site was changed to a thirty-two acre wooded site between Camp Russel and the Wheeling Country Club property.

In August 1972, Jay and Paul Good, brothers of Philip, presided over the ground-breaking and became the founding members of the Good Zoo Friends. It would be the first zoo in the country to be built from scratch as a natural area. By 1977 when the first phase of the zoo was completed, the Good Zoo Friends reached its goal of four thousand family memberships. The facility opened to the public on Memorial Day weekend.

“As happiness makes up in depth for what it lacks in length, so did the joyousness of Philip’s life mirror our own affection. The creation of a zoo where the reality of life appears a bit happier and more comprehensible is, therefore, a very Philip thing to do.” ~Barbara Good, mother of Philip Mayer Good

Good Zoo Breeding Program

Oglebay Good Zoo is one of only 230 AZA-accredited zoos or aquariums, and we are the only accredited zoo or aquarium in the state of West Virginia. In addition to providing family friendly, lifelong learning opportunities, we participate in 23 conservation breeding programs known as SSP’s, or Species Survival Programs, that focus on sustainable breeding and management of the species in our care. Several of the SSP’s that the zoo participates in include the golden lion tamarin, Grevy’s zebra, cheetah, mongoose lemur, and red panda SSP’s.

Animal Wellness


  • Eastern Hellbender Conservation photo

    Eastern Hellbender Conservation

    The Eastern hellbender is the largest salamander in the Western Hemisphere, growing to nearly 30” in length. Fondly referred to as the snot otter due to the copious amounts of slime that coat its skin, the hellbender resides under large boulders in clean streams and rivers throughout Appalachia. Team members at the Good Zoo were the first to hatch larvae from eggs of this species in a zoo or aquarium in 2007. Since that time, the zoo team has assisted in surveys of the hellbender across the state of West Virginia and has raised and reintroduced hellbenders back to our local streams and rivers with conservation partners including the West Virginia Division of Wildlife and the Wilds. 

  • Monarch Butterfly Conservation photo

    Monarch Butterfly Conservation

    Populations of the monarch butterfly have declined greatly over the past 20 years. These declines have been associated with the loss of milkweed, the host plant that monarch caterpillars feed on, across the species’ breeding range. Oglebay Good Zoo participates in Project Monarch Watch, working with citizen scientists in the West Virginia Master Naturalist Program to rear and release and tag nearly 2,000 monarch butterflies. 

  • Migratory Bird Rehabilitation photo

    Migratory Bird Rehabilitation

    Oglebay Good Zoo has worked with the West Virginia Division of Wildlife to rehabilitate ill or injured migratory birds for over 25 years. Each year we care for between 50 and 75 falcons, hawks, and owls that are ill or injured. The zoo team and veterinarians provide critical care, physical therapy, and reintroduction flight training to these patients to help save populations of these species in our region. If you are interested in supporting migratory bird conservation, you can assist by providing migratory bird habitats in the form of nest boxes or plantings around your home, placing deterrent stickers on picture windows, contacting local law enforcement or conservation officers if you see an ill or injured bird, or by donating to our raptor rehabilitation program.

Make A Gift

  • Animal Welfare photo

    Animal Welfare

    Our team strives to provide excellent welfare to all of the individuals in our care. We take great efforts to ensure that all of the animals in your zoo are cared for in a manner that meets their physical and behavioral needs. Welfare assessments are performed for every animal in our care regularly to monitor their physical and behavioral health. These assessments are utilized to ensure our commitment to the care of your zoo’s animals along with annual veterinary care plans, plans for environmental enrichment to stimulate activity and natural behaviors, training plans to facilitate veterinary and management procedures that reduce potential stress, and length of life plans for each individual to ensure that appropriate habitat, furnishings, and medications are provided to ensure comfort from birth through geriatric years. In our efforts to ensure that we provide the individuals in our care with choices over their environment, you may need to look for individuals under shade structures in their habitats during warm weather or may have to wait at habitats to observe individuals that may have chosen to go into their indoor climate-controlled habitats during hot or cold weather. We appreciate your understanding of us providing your zoo animals with these opportunities. If you are interested in assisting us with providing the animals with optimal welfare, you can assist by donating to the zoo’s enrichment and welfare programs.

  • Enrichment Opportunities photo

    Enrichment Opportunities

    Much like all of us, the animals in our care require enrichment to prevent boredom. Environmental enrichment includes all of the techniques that we use to provide the animals at your zoo with choices in their daily lives that will provide psychological stimulation. To ensure that the animals in our care are stimulated, we may use training techniques, new smells, furniture, and innovative ways to present their food. We assess enrichment daily and create plans of proposed enrichment activities to ensure the animals we care for are receiving novel forms of stimulation, so enrichment techniques don’t become routine.

  • Wall of the Wild photo

    Wall of the Wild

    We invite you to participate in a unique opportunity to make a lasting impression on Oglebay Good Zoo. Have your name, or the name of a beloved family member or pet, etched into a tile to be used in the creation of the Wall of the Wild. Each handcrafted tile is sculpted with an intricately detailed, raised-relief image of an animal. When completed, the wall will proudly display the names of our generous donors and remind current and future generations of your care and support for the zoo. By investing in these sculpted tiles, you will not only gain lasting recognition, but also provide support and funding for many different programs at the zoo. Call the Zoo Office at 304-243-4100 today to reserve your tile.