A visit to San Diego is not complete without checking out the renowned San Diego Zoo located in Balboa Park. Over 4,000 animals representing 800 species call this nearly 100-year-old urban zoo home. The open-air exhibits in the 100-acre space allow visitors to enjoy the animals in areas created as closely to their natural habitats as possible. Visitors can stroll the zoo paths using the complimentary map as a guide, get an overview of the zoo from a double-decker guided tour bus, or experience the zoo from another perspective on Skyfari, an overhead gondola lift. The zoo’s arboretum setting adds to the exotic sensual experience for visitors and provides essential rare animal foods like bamboo and eucalyptus for the zoo.
The San Diego Zoo is organized by habitat with several animals sharing the same space as they would in their natural settings. The ten habitats include Australian Outback, Africa Rocks, Northern Frontier, Discovery Outpost, Outback, Panda Canyon, Elephant Odyssey, Lost Forest, Urban Jungle, and Asian Passage. One of the best ways to visit the zoo is by planning ahead. The San Diego Zoo website lists headshots of over 60 of the most popular animals, birds, reptiles, and insects representing all ten of the zoo’s habitats. By clicking on “Add to Day,” visitors can create a personalized itinerary that can be shared with friends and family, and accessed from a mobile device once at the zoo. This is an excellent way to make the best use of your time at the zoo.
Some of the most popular areas of the zoo that you won’t want to miss are the bonobos in Africa Rocks, the giant pandas in Panda Canyon, and the koala bears in the Australian Outback. You’ll get a kick out of the playful antics of the endangered bonobos, highly intelligent primates, in their social setting. The rare giant panda exhibit where visitors can watch these lovable creatures eat and climb around their bamboo forest will also entertain. Enjoy the largest colony of koala outside of Australia from elevated walkways in their eucalyptus forest. Before visiting the San Diego Zoo, check out your favorite animals on the zoo’s webcams. After keeping up with the apes, koalas, polar bears, condors, and elephants via their own habitat webcams, a day at the zoo will feel more like visiting old friends.
Zoo admission includes the Guided Bus Tour, Kangaroo Express Bus, Skyfari aerial tram, and all regularly scheduled shows. If you’d like to experience the zoo on a deeper level, take one of their three zoo tours. The 1.5 hour Backstage Pass tour allows visitors to touch some of the animals like a cheetah or rhino, get their photo taken with an animal, and learn the inside stories of several zoo animals. The hour long Discovery Tour is the personalized version of the guided bus tour; learn about the zoo’s animal conservation efforts and get all your questions answered. Inside Look is a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo. Visitors take this two-hour cart tour to off-exhibit parts of the zoo and learn about animal care and other insider information not heard anywhere else. These three tours are significant add-ons to the price of admission. Check the website for details.
Other zoo features include sunrise and sunset walks, the Zoo at Night, sleepovers, children’s camps, photographer’s workshops, zookeeper talks, a petting zoo, and 4D theater experiences (4-D shows are a $5 add-on per show to the price of zoo admission). Check out the Camp Critters sea lion show at Discovery Outpost. Single and multiple day passes, San Diego Go Cards, and San Diego Zoo memberships are available for fun for everyone.
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2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 231-1515
Size: 99 Acres