Image source: San Diego Zoo
One of the premiere zoos in the world, the San Diego Zoo is located in Balboa Park, just north of Downtown San Diego. The zoo stretches over 100 acres and features over 4,000 animals of 800 different species. From insects to elephants, visitors are able to see the incredible variety that makes up the animal kingdom as they walk through the well laid-out paths and view many exciting shows and exhibits.
There are many discounts available for the San Diego Zoo. Learn more about San Diego Zoo ticket deals and ticket discounts.
With over 800 different animal species on display, visitors to the San Diego Zoo will want to grab a map in order to plan their visit and see favorite animals. The zoo officials try to make this a little easier by dividing the zoo into nine major Animal Zones: Africa Rocks, Asian Passage, Discovery Outpost, Elephant Odyssey, Lost Forest, Outback, Panda Canyon, Polar Rim and Urban Jungle.
In many cases, the animal zones house animals that live in similar parts of the world and similar environments. Visitors will notice that most animals live, open are exhibits. This is a major priority of the San Diego Zoo officials who seek to provide their animal with living spaces as close to their natural habitats as possible.
Mimicking the African landscapes, the “Africa Rocks” area includes the popular “catwalk” a stretch of exhibits that feature lynx, snow leopard, mountain lion, jaguar, and leopard. These big cats each have large enclosures with plenty of rocks and trees to climb. Visitors should be aware that many large cat species are nocturnal. It’s likely that these beautiful and ferocious felines will be cat-napping during the day.
The Africa Rocks area also includes the Kopje exhibit, a unique interspecies display that houses klipspringers, dwarf mongoose, rock hyrax, eagles and a few other birds native to Africa. Another popular exhibit in this part of the zoo is the Meerkat exhibit. These delightful creatures live in large family units in tunnels underground. However, during the warm San Diego days, visitors are likely to see them topside, enjoying the sunshine.
The Asian Passage area includes a delightful troupe of lion-tailed macaque, a mischievous species of monkey noted for their thick silvery manes and the tuffs of fur on their tail (hence the name “lion-tailed).
Another popular exhibit in the Asian Passage area is the sun bears. Sun bears are the smallest species of bear and are often fun to watch. They are fast and agile, and their exhibit at the San Diego Zoo is filled with lots of trees that they love to climb.
This area includes a hodgepodge of exhibits, including the children’s petting zoo, the insect house and the reptile house.
Children will be delighted to reach out and meet real animals up close and personal at the children’s zoo. Favorite activities include petting sheep and combing goats. Other animals that make this exhibit home are naked mole-rats, macaws, Pygmy marmosets, spider monkeys, otters and pangolins.
Crocodiles and turtles can be found nearby as they enjoy a large pool (holding over 55,000 gallons of heated water) and sun themselves on the shore. Visitors will also be wowed by the giant tortoises next door. Some of these amazing creatures have been with the San Diego Zoo since 1928 and are suspected to be over 100 years old! No wonder they walk so slowly.
The humming bird house is another favorite among zoo visitors. It’s a great place to take a break and enjoy the beauty of these tiny birds that seem to be floating in place.
In the insect house, visitors can see some of the zoo’s smallest inhabitants, including stick insects, leafcutter ants, roaches, beetles, scorpions and many different species of spiders. The reptile house may make your blood run cold as you gaze upon different species of snakes and lizards including huge anacondas and a Komodo dragon, the largest reptile species in the world.
The San Diego Zoo is proud to present seven elephants in a lavish 2.4 acre exhibit, which includes several pools as well as trees that provide the elephants with shade and treats. Visitors will enjoy watching these gentle mammoths sunbathe, play in the water and interact with each other.
The Elephant Odyssey isn’t just about the elephants! The lion exhibit is also located in this part of the zoo. A pair of lions share this exhibit, and visitors can watch these “kings of the jungle” lounge and prowl around their natural exhibit space.
Also in the Elephant Odyssey is an interspecies habitat that includes guanacos, tapirs, and capybaras wandering the space, climbing rocks and enjoying the cooling waters of their pool.
In the heart of the San Diego Zoo, the Lake Forest area is home to many different animals including a troupe of gorillas. Visitors will enjoy watching how the gorillas interact with each other as well as play along the trees and hills and waterfalls of their exhibit.
This section of the zoo also includes several aviaries: the Australasian aviary, Owens aviary, Parker aviary, and Scripps aviary. Together, these aviaries contain hundreds of different birds in every color imaginable.
Many monkeys are also located in the Lake Forest area, including bonobos, mandrills, mangabeys, guenons and orangutans. Watch these playful species swing from branches and perform fantastical acrobatics all in front of your eyes. These energetic creatures are always ready to put on a show.
The hippo and tiger exhibits are also popular destinations in Lake Forest. The tigers are as beautiful as they are deadly as they prowl about their large exhibit or cat nap in their heated cave. You’ll most likely find the hippos enjoying the cooling water of their pool. An underwater viewing window lets visitors see hippos as they paddle down below the surface of the water.
Travel to the Australian outback to see what creatures live in this hot, dry environment. Visitors will get to enjoy koalas, wallabies and camels.
The San Diego Zoo is home to the largest colony of koalas outside of Australia and is proud to have bred many koalas right at the zoo. These fun and furry creatures can usually be found munching on their favorite flavor of eucalyptus (the San Diego Zoo grows several different varieties just for their koalas).
Zoo visitors never seem to get enough of pandas. On long term loan from China, the San Diego Zoo is proud to offer visitors the chance to see two adult giant pandas and their cub, Yun Zi. The pandas enjoy a large exhibit area filled with trees, vegetation and climbing structures.
Pandas are an endangered species and are notoriously difficult to breed. The San Diego Zoo is fortunate to be one of the few zoos that have been successfully able to breed pandas. It is also only one of four zoos in the United States to house giant pandas.
Also part of Panda Canyon are takins and the red panda, which is actually more closely related to raccoons than to giant pandas.
If the hot San Diego sun has got you sweating, take a tour of the Polar Rim area of the zoo. You’ll get to see the exciting polar bear exhibit, which includes both above ground and below ground viewing, so you can watch these large and powerful creatures dive and swim beneath the water.
Reindeer also call the Polar Rim area home. When they’re not pulling Santa’s famous sled, they like to hang out at the San Diego Zoo and enjoy the pine trees and shallow ponds of their zoo habitat.
No zoo worth the name would be complete without a giraffe exhibit. These unique creatures are the tallest land animal in the world. It is truly a wonderful experience to watch them reach up their long necks to graze within the treetops.
The San Diego Zoo has created a large inter-species habitat for their group of giraffes. Joining the giraffes are graceful gazelles and sturdy antelope. Watching these creatures interact is like getting a glimpse of the African savannahs.
While the animals are always the main event at the San Diego Zoo, there are also plenty of additional activities along with restaurants and souvenir shops to visit.
One of the most popular zoo activities is the guided bus tour, which take visitors through 70% of the zoo. This is a great way to learn about the layout of the zoo and to get to a faraway exhibit without having to walk a long distance.
Other popular activities include a gondola over the park, the Animal Encounters show, a 4-D Happy Feet theater attraction, giraffe feeding and guided specialty tours for group of 25 or more.
Restaurants, snack stands and other stalls are located throughout the San Diego Zoo to keep guests fed and fueled for exploration. Multiple gift shops are also scattered around the park to make sure you don’t leave without a memento from your trip whether it be a postcard, keychain, t-shirt or a stuffed animal.
So, if you’re ready to see some of the most incredible and unique animals that live on our planet, take a trip down to the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. Ticket discounts are available. Get great deals on San Diego Zoo tickets today.