San Diego Zoo

January 1, 2014

The San Diego Zoo is located in Balboa Park, San Diego, California.

It houses over 3,700 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies.

San Diego Zoo pioneered the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats. 

The zoo offers a guided tour bus that traverses 75% of the park. There is an overhead gondola lift called the Skyfari, providing an aerial view of the zoo.  

Skyfari gondola

Exhibits are often designed around a particular habitat. The same exhibit features many different animals that can be found side-by-side in the wild, along with native plant life.

Lesser Kudu - Eastern Africa

Polar Bear Plunge Exhibit, houses over 30 species representing the Arctic. The main animals in the area are the three polar bears, named Kalluk, Chinook, and Tatqiq.

As of July 2011, the San Diego Zoo is one of four zoos in the U.S. which have giant pandas on display, and is the most successful in terms of panda reproduction.

Xiao Liwu - Born July 29, 2012

Absolutely Apes is an exhibit housing Bornean orangutans and siamangs in an 8,400-square-foot (780 m2) exhibit. The exhibit provides sway poles and artificial trees for the primates to swing on and a fake termite mound for them to fish condiments out of.

Gorilla Tropics Exhibit simulates the rainforests of central Africa. Guests can view the Western Gorillas from a viewing window, across a waterfall, and across a creek.

Western Gorilla

The San Diego Zoo also operates the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which displays animals in a more expansive setting than at the Zoo.

Fishing Cat - Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka

The zoo is active in conservation and species-preservation efforts.

Its Institute for Conservation Research raises California Condors, giant pandas, tigers, African Black Rhinos, and a large number of other endangered species.

California Condor

Many species are bred in captivity for release into their native habitats where appropriate.

Meerkat - Angola to South Africa

The "Koalafornia" Exhibit includes koalas and other Australian marsupials such as wombats, wallabies and Australian birds such as kookaburras. It also houses the only Tasmanian devils kept in the United States.


The temperate, sunny maritime climate is well suited to many plants and animals. Besides an extensive collection of birds, reptiles, and mammals, it also maintains its grounds as an arboretum, with a rare plant collection.

Prior to 1912 the Komodo Dragon was unknown to western zoologists. Growing to a maximum of 3 meters, Komodo dragons are the largest of 31 species of monitor lizards

Komodo Dragon - Sunda Island Chain in Indonesia

A final note, you will do quite a bit of walking. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes and try to be early to beat the crowds. Animals are more active in the early morning.