About Cougar Mountain Zoo

The mission of The Cougar Mountain Zoo is to increase the understanding and appreciation of the Earth’s irreplaceable wildlife and the role of humanity in nature through education, conservation, propagation, and exhibition. Since 1972, people of all ages have enjoyed this local jewel.

As a 501c3 Federal Non-Profit, the zoo is dependent on their own fundraising efforts, as well as donations – in the form of admissions, memberships, animal adoptions and educational programs – to keep their doors open. Unique in that they are one of just 3 or 4 zoos in the country with a herd of reindeer, the zoo works within the national network to breed reindeer, and other types of animals, based upon their representation at other zoos as well as their conservation status.

The zoo recently put a critically endangered Macaw on an airplane to another zoo where he’ll get a chance to become an education animal, and a chance to breed. This is exciting as there are only 300-350 Macaw left in the wild. All that aside, educational programming is Cougar Mountain Zoo’s bread and butter. Pre-pandemic, a visitor would find something going on almost every half an hour, and the zoo abuzz with regular school field trips.


As the pandemic began to hit in early 2020, Governor’s orders mandated that the zoo was no longer allowed to sell in-person admission at the front ticket window, it all had to be done on computer. With their previously 15+ year old website there had been no way to do that. At the same time, regular in-person visitors, as well as school field trips were grinding to a halt as shutdowns began.

Thankfully for the Cougar Mountain Zoo, a few months prior, in November 2019, they’d partnered with Seamonster Studios on the redesign and launch of their new mobile-friendly – complete with e-commerce and analytics – website. As things turned out, the timing couldn’t have been better.


In early 2020, the zoo went from never taking online admission sales to having to rely on them to stay open. Thanks to their new site, they were able to comply with Governor’s orders.

In fact, on the day the site launched, they were able to make advance tickets for their biggest fundraiser of the year, the Issaquah Reindeer Festival, available online.

Even when the App glitched and kept selling tickets when they were all sold out, with the help of Seamonster Studios and their new website, the zoo was able to quickly react and do everything they needed to do fundraising-wise, amidst the global pandemic. This was a huge deal.

In addition, they were able to pivot to virtual educational presentations right away, rolling out a program just before schools were shut down. With their new site analytics, what they saw happening during the key months just as schools were closing was incredible – people everywhere were looking for education programs as everyone was stuck at home. They were in luck, as Cougar Mountain Zoo’s educational programs were open for business!

“If we hadn’t done what we had done to the website, our last two years wouldn’t have turned out the way they did.” –Jarod Munzer, Head Zookeeper


The zoo continues to receive comments on their new website – and it’s all positive. The new site allows for on-the-fly changes as needed and they are seeing higher member engagement and heavier overall site traffic.

To quote Jarod Munzer, Director at Cougar Mountain Zoo, “SeaMonster Studios listened to everything that we put out there and filled in all the gaps – they made it so easy.” Jarod says zoo board members bring up the new website every time he talks to them, and he regularly receives positive comments from former staff members, even other zoos.

“SeaMonster Studios was willing to work with us on every level; creative, price, flexibility, even a new logo. Their level of customer service and care are above board.” –Jarod Munzer, Head Zookeeper

With the app glitch incident that happened during the reindeer festival and almost selling out of tickets, Jarod said he went into ‘defcom 6 panic mode.’ Thankfully, Seamonster had an immediate solution to get them by until it got sorted out, and within a couple of hours they were in good shape, and it was all fixed. He can’t imagine a stronger web development partner.

As most of us are aware, not every non-profit organization has been as fortunate as The Cougar Mountain Zoo over the last two and a half years. Seamonster Studios is grateful that this cherished local treasure is going strong and continuing to spread their important and extremely timely mission of “increasing the understanding and appreciation of the Earth’s irreplaceable wildlife and the role of humanity in nature through education, conservation, propagation, and exhibition” – a mission that indeed has been brought even closer into our awareness during the pandemic.

Cougar Mountain Zoo logo

Cougar Mountain Zoo



Notable Performance:

annual online ticket sales