San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo might just be the best zoo in North America. It is certainly one of the most highly-rated. The zoo as a conservation organization houses over 4,000 endangered and rare animals in state-of-the-art habitat environments. The zoo grounds themselves are also a world-class botanical garden featuring well over 700,000 plants representing about 6,500 species.

Giant panda
Giant Panda credit: Andy some rights reserved

Located in Balboa park just north of downtown San Deigo, the zoo features 14 major exhibits devoted to animals such as pandas, polar bears, hippos, flamingos, reptiles, apes, monkeys, gorillas, sun bears, not to mention several aviaries and a Children's Zoo. And to help you see it all, there is: a guided bus tour, an aerial tram, a miniature railroad, special tours, VIP tours and much more.

Zoo Cam

The San Diego Zoo also offers several live cams. These are real time views of amazing animals such as polar bears, koalas, elephants, condors, apes, and of course, pandas. If you're lucky, you may see first-hand some adorable footage like this:

Attractions

There's definitely a lot to experience at this zoo, so you'll want to be sure to take the whole day to see it all. Also there's a lot of ground to cover with a few steep climbs, so unless you want the workout I would suggest making good use of the sky tram, express buses, and moving sidewalks. Here are just a few of the attractions...

Absolutely Apes
This huge, glass-fronted habitat simulates a rain forest ecosystem providing a lush environment for the resident orangutans and siamangs to live, climb and swing.
Children's Zoo
Not just for kids, this exhibit is really more like 30 mini-exhibits and activities. Like for example, the Petting Paddock which provides the opportunity to pet a sheep's wooly coat or watch the bottle-feeding of animal babies.
Flamingo Lagoon
Since 1932, Caribbean flamingos have been seen at the Zoo, and are its unofficial ambassadors. A popular attraction at any zoo, these Flamingos have their run of a nesting island, 3 beach areas, a flowing lagoon of great size, and lush landscaping designed to make the birds feel right at home.
Giant Panda Research Station
One of the zoo's most popular attractions - four giant pandas in a brand new exhibit area.
Gorilla Tropics
With its waterfalls, meadow, and climbing areas, this habitat is a surprisingly accurate simluation of an African rain forest. This no doubt helps to encourage the natural behaviors of the Gorillas its serveral enclosures house.
Ituri Forest
Swamp monkeys, Spotted-necked otters, and of course hippos. These animals frolic and entertain both above and below the water (as observed through an underwater viewing window).
Polar Bear Plunge
One of the largest exhibits of its kind in the world, this artic habitat is also home to Siberian reindeer, Pallas' cats, and artic birds and plants. Follow all the action from an underwater viewing room.

Zoo Hours

Probably one of the most asked questions about the zoo, is when is it open to the public? Therefore I will highlight the answer below. Keep in mind though, these hours are subject to change.

  • Winter/Spring - 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Spring Break - 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • Spring/Summer - 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Extended Summer Hours - 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Facts about the Zoo

How big is the San Diego Zoo?
Pretty big. About 435,600 square feet or 100 acres (or 40 hectares).
Where is the San Diego Zoo located?
The zoo can be found at 2920 Zoo Drive in Balboa Park. That's directly north of downtown San Diego. For general information call 619-231-1515.
How many animals does the Zoo have?
Over 4,000 (representing 800 species and subspecies).
When was the San Diego Zoo founded?
In 1916 by Dr. Harry Wegeforth. To be exact, the first official meeting of the San Diego Zoological Society's Board of Directors was October 2, 1916.
What are the zoo's prices?
Currently tickets will cost you about $44 for adults (ages 12 and up) and $34 for children (3-11).