The San Diego Zoo is one of the most fascinating natural parks in the world, for being one of the largest and with the greatest variety in terms of animal species.
Let’s find out what are the main attractions of this considered the best zoo in the United States, in this TOP 10 things you must see at the San Diego Zoo.
1. Gorilla Forest
One of the main attractions of the zoo is its gorillas, which you can see up close in their natural dynamics behind security glass.
The shady forest setting is perfect for sitting and resting in close proximity to these giant herbivores, the largest living primates that can weigh over 200 kilos and reach 2 meters in height.
Gorillas are sexually active from the age of 11 and are very intelligent, so much so that some have learned to communicate with simple sign languages. They share more than 97% of their DNA with humans.
The species is in danger of extinction due to the destruction of its habitats, poaching and diseases, especially that caused by the Ebola virus.
2. Polar bears on the Northern Frontier
The San Diego Zoo is home to playful polar bears on the park’s North Border.
You’ll reach the largest land carnivores on the planet on the Skyfari Aerial Tram, which will drop you off at the closest station to bear habitat.
Kids love crawling through the caves and jumping across the ice, interacting with the animal statues and getting up close to the icy pool.
From the underwater observation room you will be surprised by the agility of these white giants, which can weigh up to 680 kilos and measure 2.6 meters in height.
3. Koalas in the Australian Outback
The koala is one of the oldest species at the San Diego Zoo, as the first pair of specimens, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, arrived at the park in 1925. Since then, the place has become famous throughout the world for hosting the colony largest koala breed and develop the most successful breeding program for the species outside of Australia.
These marsupials can be seen from the catwalks around a Queenslander-style refuge, which serves as a koala care center and from where you can see the keepers preparing the eucalyptus, the main component of their diet.
Male koalas are territorial and have their small spaces delimited, while females are more social and share their places with the babies.
The height of the walkways allows you to observe the koalas in the branches and foliage of the eucalyptus trees.
Visitors can play and practice their climbing skills like these animals between life-size sculptures.
The zoo’s Australian Outback is colloquially called Koalafornia and exhibits other animals such as the Tasmanian devil.
4. Elephant Odyssey
The Elephant Odyssey includes African and Asian species in a natural, open area, giving the animals plenty of room to roam.
Among the differences between the two species are the size, weight, trunk and shape of the ears, being smaller and rounder in Asian elephants.
In the Care Center you can see how the specialists carry out their routines to feed and ensure the well-being of these giants, who weigh more than 100 kilos at birth alone.
As in many spaces at the San Diego Zoo, in Odyssey an area was set up for children to play in life-size settings.
The site also has a collection of fossil statues of ancient creatures that populated Southern California, including mammoth, saber-toothed cat, Daggett’s eagle, American lion, and Jefferson’s sloth.
Among the wide variety of animals exhibited at Elephant Odyssey are African lions, two-toed sloths and Baird’s tapirs.
5. Urban Jungle
The giraffe is perhaps the most popular zoo animal among visitors because of its impressive height, which can approach 6 meters.
This jungle in the middle of the city is home to a herd of Massai giraffes or Kilimanjaro giraffes (the largest of the genus), which before deforestation and the destruction of their habitats were easily found throughout Africa. Now he only lives in Tanzania and Kenya.
In this area of the zoo you can help the keepers feed the animals during specific times of the day.
Other species of the Urban Jungle include Soemmerring’s gazelle, binturong, Indian rhinoceros, red kangaroo, red potamoquer, cheetah, clouded leopard, crested porcupine, southern hornbill and tamandua.
One of the great rarities of this space is the binturong or black bear cat, an animal on the list of vulnerable species whose population in the wild has been significantly reduced since 1980.
Another surprising inhabitant of the Urban Jungle is the red potamoquero, a wild African boar that lives in wetlands, wooded savannahs and jungles of the region, which stretches between Gambia and the Congo River basin.
6. Absolutely Apes
This exhibit houses 4 playful Sumatran orangutans and several siamangs, in a 780 m 2 space with a large glass window.
The Sumatran orangutan lives wild only on that island in Indonesia and is the smallest of the 3 species that make up the genus. It is in danger of extinction due to the destruction of its habitats and the hunting of babies that are sold as pets on the black market.
The siamang is an arboreal gibbon, the largest of the lesser apes, which lives in Sumatra, Thailand and Malaysia. It is unique for its crop or gular sac, which it can inflate to the size of its head to emit the loud calls that characterize it. It is an endangered species for the same reasons that have the Sumatran orangutan on the verge of extinction.
The San Diego Zoo’s Absolutely Apes exhibit features artificial trees, balance posts, simulated mulch and termite mounds to provide the animals with a habitat as close to wildlife as possible.
7. Africa Rocks
From the newer areas of the zoo with exhibits such as Cape Fynbos, Acacia Forest, Madagascar Forest, Ethiopian Highlands, Kopje Forest and West African Forest.
Cape Fynbos is home to the African penguin or Cape penguin, whose population fell by 90% during the 20th century, and it is estimated that it could be an extinct species by 2026.
Acacia Woodland exhibits vervet monkeys, birds and the Amur leopard, a non-African species (it lives in Russia and China) of which few individuals remain in the wild.
The cubs born in the zoo and the genetic preservation work are a hope to save the species.
The Madagascar Forest is home to lemurs, including red, brown and ring-tailed.
The Ethiopian Highlands exhibit houses geladas and the hamadryas baboon. The first of these is the only primate (excluding man) capable of holding a conversation with its congeners by modulating the tone and changing the intensity of the voice.
In the Kopje Forest there are klipspringers (small antelopes), rock hyraxes (rock rabbits) and dwarf mongooses. While the West African Forest is home to crocodiles and turtles.
8. Tiger Trail
Tiger Trail was a San Diego Zoo project completed in 1988 that took the zoo bioclimate experience to a whole new level.
It is the simulation of a tropical Asian jungle with plants irrigated through a high-tech misting system, which allowed the tigers to grow as if they were in their natural jungle environment of the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra or New Guinea.
The Tiger Trail is located in a sloping canyon through which the visitor first passes through an underwater viewing pavilion, with crocodiles, Ganges gharials (critically endangered, only a few dozen left worldwide) and other reptiles. aquatic.
Then, you reach another pavilion flanked by a swamp with white-necked storks, several specimens of kingfishers and fishing cats.
A little further down there are Malayan tapirs, warty pigs from the Visayas and babirusas, strange pigs from the Celebes Islands.
Finally, the master of the trail, the impressive Malaysian tiger, enjoying a stream and waterfall, reveals himself through the glass window.
9. Lost Forest Monkey Trails
Zoo visitors can meet some of the world’s rarest and most endangered monkeys in this area.
There are snub-nosed monkeys (burmese noseless monkey), a noisy troop of capuchin monkeys, black-crested mangabeys (an endangered species from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola), and colobus.
Wolf monkeys also live in the same habitat, which get along perfectly with pygmy hippos; red-tailed monkeys and Allen’s monkeys, which live with spot-necked otters.
The belching of the colobus is a friendly gesture of socialization, primates that digest the leaves they eat by bacterial fermentation, which produces a lot of gas.
Other animals you can see in this exhibit include turtles, snakes, crocodiles, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and yellow-backed duiker.
Advanced Discovery is an exhibition that includes the Reptile House and Walk, the Discovery Playground and the Children’s Zoo.
The Hummingbird Aviary houses birds such as tanagers, sunbirds, manakins, euphonias, purple nuthatches, silver-billed mountain toucans, green aracaris, and many members of the smaller bird family, hummingbirds.
At Discovery Outpost there is also a bug house with a collection of bugs, including live specimens such as leaf-cutter ants, stick insects (stick bugs) and water beetles.
At the Children’s Zoo, the pet paddock houses various species of goats and sheep. Other animals in the area include naked mole rats, fennec or sand foxes, mice, macaws, lesser anteater (southern tamandua), and porcupines.
The Reptile House and Walk is home to Chinese Alligators, Komodo Dragons, Galapagos Tortoises, Cobras, Water Cobras, Anacondas, Pythons, Monitor Lizards, Lachesis Vipers, Lizards, Alligators, Fiji Iguana, Asian Vine Snake ( Gunther’s snake) and Ethiopian viper, along with other snakes, lizards, toads, frogs and salamanders.
San Diego Zoo Aviaries
The zoo has 2 large aviaries: Scripps and Owens. The first of these is found within the lush African jungle, close to gorillas and pygmy hippos.
This aviary is 24 meters high and houses more than 130 birds of 35 different species. There are violet-backed starlings, tinkerbirds, and gregarious weavers, among other birds.
The Owens Aviary is another San Diego Zoo jungle bird habitat, with nearly 200 representative tropical birds from 45 species, including kingfishers, tree parrots, Bali myna, jacana, argus pheasant and woodpecker.
San Diego Zoo: Ituri Forest
The Ituri Forest is a rainy territory of 63 thousand km 2 in the province of Ituri, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It is an enormous ecosystem of giant trees, many of noble woods whose immense superficial roots prevent walking, and a fauna with numerous and incredible species.
The San Diego Zoo has recreated the Ituri Forest, including the huts of the Mbuti Pygmies, the hunter-gatherer people who inhabit it. You will be able to see animals such as the great blue turaco, emerald starling, Congo peacock, crowned eagle, African forest buffalo, De Brazza’s monkey, red-tailed monkey and the spotted-necked otter.
San Diego Zoo Sun Bear Forest
The sun bear is a small plantigrade from the tropical jungle of Southeast Asia called in English, sun bear (bear of the sun). It is also known as the bear of the coconut palms because of its fondness for the coconut.
A 6,100 m 2 exhibit at the San Diego Zoo features this agile bear, an excellent climber.
The habitat has a stream, grasses and climbing ropes. It is also home to lion-tailed macaque monkeys and silvery latungs.
San Diego Zoo Bus Tour
Guided bus tours are trips in panoramic double-decker units that last 35 minutes. They cover a good part of the zoo, which allows visitors to have a complete view of the park, which helps to better structure the program of activities during the day.
San Diego Zoo Skyfari Cable Car
One of the most practical ways to get around this extensive and mountainous zoo is the Skyfari cable car, a service that also offers spectacular views of the different areas of the zoo and Balboa Park.
Travel is fast, comfortable and pleasant. It is the best way to easily go to the Northern Frontier where the polar bears are, to Elephant Odyssey and to Africa Rocks.
San Diego Zoo Kangaroo Express
Boarding the Kangaroo Express, a panoramic double-decker bus, you can get on and off at 4 different stops in the zoo.
A bus with the yellow sign that identifies them arrives at the stop every 15 minutes. All admission tickets to the zoo include free use of these buses and it is possible to bring strollers if space allows.
Botanical Tours at the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is also a huge botanical garden with thousands of wild plants and species planted both outdoors and in greenhouses.
Every month there is a botanical tour on a special bus that goes through the House of Orchids, the carnivorous plant greenhouse and other areas of interest.
What to do when you arrive at the San Diego Zoo
Take a few minutes to check the large sign near the entrance for closed exhibits and schedules.
By arriving a little before opening time you will avoid crowds and have more time for your tours. You’ll also have more opportunities to watch the keepers finish feeding the animals their breakfast.
The zoo gate closes 2 hours before visitors’ departure time, after which time it is not possible to enter.
San Diego Zoo prices
From 12 years: 58 USD (1090.18 MXN).
Between 3 and 11 years: 48 USD (902.22 MXN).
With the San Diego GoCard you can get discounts to the zoo and other city attractions.
San Diego Zoo Free Day
Children under 3 years old have free admission. Likewise, all children under 12 years of age enter without paying as long as they are accompanied by an adult and that it is October, a promotion that applies to both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Although any day in October is free for the indicated age, it is recommended to take advantage of the offer on weekends when there are more activities and fun.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
It is a 7 km² zoo and botanical garden, formerly known as San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park.
It is in the San Pasqual Valley, one hour from the San Diego Zoo, with some 3,000 animals of 400 different species and more than 3,500 plant species.
Its main attraction is the safaris which include Caravan Safari, Car Safari, Cheetah Safari, Jungle Ropes Safari, Flightline Safari, Behind the Scenes Safari, Roar and Snoring Safari and Ultimate VIP Safari.
San Diego Zoo Hours and Address
San Diego Zoo hours: 9 am – 6 pm, every day of the year.
Address: Balboa Park, 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101, United States.
Can I bring food to the San Diego Zoo?
Yes, but access with refrigerators or large containers is not allowed. However, outside the park there is a picnic area where these food containers can be used.
Visiting the San Diego Zoo with children
The San Diego Zoo is a fascinating experience that can also be exhausting.
Families who go with children are recommended to make a route plan establishing priorities.
The Children’s Zoo has many animals and is an essential stop with children. It is advisable to bring the stroller or rent one at the park.
It is also advisable to walk as much as possible and then use internal means of transport such as the Skyfari cable car and the Kangaroo Express bus. Entrance tickets are required to use these transports.
Most of the restrooms in the zoo have baby changing stations and at the First Aid station, next to the Reptile House, there is a private area for nursing mothers with microwaves to heat bottles and baby food.
How to Get to the San Diego Zoo
The easiest way to get to the zoo is by driving. On busy days there is valet parking near the entrance to the huge free parking lot.
Be sure to note your location or take a photo of the nearest sign to find your vehicle at the exit.
To travel by bus you must board the urban bus No. 7 that stops at the zoo. The Old Town Trolley Tours units also provide the service.
Can I bring my pet to the San Diego Zoo?
For security reasons, no. The San Diego Zoo also does not have the means to house them.
Where to Eat at the San Diego Zoo
You can eat at the zoo at Albert Restaurant (Lost Forest, between the treetops), San Diego Zoo Sandwich Co. (zoo entrance), Front Street Café (Front Street), Safari Kitchen (Front Street), Sydney’s Grill ( Outback), Hua Mei Café (Asian Passage), Sabertooth Grill (Elephant Odyssey), Laguna Terrace (Front Street) and Treetops Café (Lost Forest).
For a quick bite and a draft beer you have several places throughout the park.
San Diego Zoo Hotels & Packages
Some San Diego hotels, such as Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego – La Jolla and San Diego Mission Bay Resort , offer lodging packages that include access to the zoo and safari park.
Embassy Suites is a 3-star hotel at 4550 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla, San Diego, with spacious suites with separate bedroom and living room, wet bar, 32-inch LCD TV, refrigerator, and microwave. It is 6.6 km from La Jolla Cove and 16.3 km from the San Diego Zoo.
San Diego Mission Bay Resort is a 4-star establishment at 1775 East Mission Bay Drive, Mission Bay, San Diego. It is located 3.6 km from Seaworld and 7.4 km from the zoo. It has a restaurant, bar and fitness center.
San Diego Zoo: interesting information
San Diego Zoo Upcoming Events: The Zoo is home to special activities including training programs, educational workshops, food fairs, and other educational and entertaining events.
On September 21, 2020, a wine and beer tasting from the Southern California area is planned; while on October 11 there will be a meeting of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
San Diego Zoo Fundraisers: In addition to admission fees, the institution raises funds through event facility rentals, monthly donations, bequests, memorial and tribute gifts, wildlife adoptions, wish lists, and contributions from corporations and foundations.
The money is used for zoo maintenance, expansion projects and preservation programs for threatened and endangered species.
History of the San Diego Zoo
Between 1915 and 1916, the Panama-California International Exposition was held in Balboa Park, which included an animal exhibition. At the end of the expo, these specimens of fauna were placed under the care of the Zoological Society, a non-profit entity founded in 1916 by a group of people headed by the doctor, Harry M. Wegeforth.
Thus, the San Diego Zoo was born in 1916, moving to its current location in Balboa Park in 1922.
The collection was expanded with the purchase of the animals from the defunct Wonderland Amusement Park, and animal collector Frank Buck was appointed director of the zoo in 1923.
The Endangered Species Reproduction Center was opened in 1975. In 1997, the first albino koala born in captivity was born at the zoo.
We hope that this information will be useful to you on your next visit to the San Diego Zoo and we ask that you share it with your friends on social networks.
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