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San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo sign and logo
Entrance to the zoo with an elephant topiary Date opened 1915 Location Balboa Park, San Diego, California, USA Land area 100 acres (0.4 km) Coordinates 3244"?8.508"?N 1179"?5.6628"?W? / ?32.73569667N 117.151573W? / 32.73569667; -117.151573 Number of animals 4000 Number of species 950 Memberships AZA Major exhibits Absolutely Apes, Monkey Trails, Ituri Forest, Polar Bear Plunge, Giant Panda Research Station, Cat Canyon, Children's Zoo, Reptile Mesa Official website

The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, San Diego, California is the largest, and most progressive zoo in the world with over 4,000 animals of more than 800 species. It is also one of the few zoos in the world that houses the giant panda. It is privately operated by the nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego on 100 acres (0.40 km2) of parkland leased from the City of San Diego, and ownership of all animals, equipment and other assets rests with the City of San Diego.

Features Two Skyfari gondolas

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.The Skyfari was built in 1969 by the vonroll tramway company of Bern Switzerland.The San Diego Zoo Skyfari is a vonroll type 101.

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. Exhibits range from an African rain forest (featuring gorillas) to the Arctic taiga and tundra in the summertime (featuring polar bears). Some of the largest free-flight aviaries in existence are here. Many exhibits are "natural" with invisible wires and darkened blinds (to view birds), and pools and open-air moats (for large mammals).

The San Diego Zoo also operates the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, which displays animals in a more expansive condition than at the zoo. Animals are regularly transferred between both parks, as well as other zoos around the world, usually due to Species Survival Plan recommendations.

The cool, 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. As part of its gardening effort, it raises some rare animal foods. For example, the zoo raises 40 varieties of bamboo for the pandas on long-term loan from China, and it maintains 18 varieties of eucalyptus trees to feed its koalas.

The zoo provides society memberships for only a slight premium over the general admission fee, and currently holds over 250,000 members. Society memberships provide year-round re-entrance rights, guest passes and a subscription to the zoo's magazine ZooNooz. It uses income from its attractions to maintain the animals and support zoological education, science and conservation. For example, it maintains a research division, the Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES).

Giant Panda

It is extremely active in conservation and species-preservation efforts. Its Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES) raises California Condors, Pandas, Tigers, African Black Rhinos and a large number of other endangered species. Many species are bred in captivity for release into their native habitats where appropriate. It employs numerous professional geneticists, cytologists and veterinarians and maintains a cryopreservation facility for rare sperm and eggs called the Frozen zoo.

In addition to its normal publicity efforts, and web page, the zoo also produced a short TV program for a number of years with Joan Embery. Joan Embery brought various animals to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and more recently, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The zoo loaned the animals.

The zoo selects as interns only graduates of the Veterinary College of the University of California, Davis. Its keepers are unionized.

The zoo literally counts its animals as priceless. It carries the value of its animals and plants at one dollar, in accord with customary practice among zoos.


The San Diego Zoo grew out of exotic animal exhibitions abandoned after the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Dr. Harry Wegeforth founded the Zoological Society of San Diego, meeting October 2, 1916 and initially following precedents set by the New York Zoological Society. A permanent tract of land in Balboa Park was set aside in August 1921, and the zoo began to move in the following year. The publication ZooNooz commenced in early 1925.

The San Diego Zoo has been a pioneer in building "cageless" exhibits. The zoo's Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) was founded in 1975. CRES was renamed the division of Conservation and Research for Endangered Species in 2005 to better reflect its mission.

The San Diego Zoo is one of the world's few major zoos to have almost all of its major exhibits be open-air; in fact, the only major exhibition building on grounds is the Reptile House.

San Diego Zoo in Popular Culture
  • The zoo was featured prominently in the 2004 movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, though filming was not done at the San Diego Zoo. It was, in fact, done at the old Los Angeles Zoo.
  • In the Dreamworks feature film Madagascar, the animals from Central Park Zoo assume they must be in San Diego Zoo upon landing in Madagascar, due to the pristine white beaches and "extensive habitats". In sequel Madagascar 2 they also guess that they (crash)landed in the San Diego Zoo when they saw the reservate with a beautiful lake and lots of animals.
  • The Beach Boys' 1966 album, Pet Sounds has a cover and various album photography from the San Diego Zoo.
  • The 6ths have a song called "San Diego Zoo" which features comprehensive directions on how to get there.


Monkey Trails and Forest Tales Monkey Trails showcases monkeys and other animals from the rainforests of Asia and Africa. Monkey Trails is the most recent exhibit at the San Diego Zoo, replacing the older exhibit, the Monkey Yard. Because it is the most recent exhibits, it is one of the more up to date as exhibits go. Monkey Trails, as the name states, is home primarily to monkeys, such as guenons, mangabeys and the colorful mandrill. Not only does Monkey Trails showcase monkeys, but many other species of animals such as pigs like red river hogs, bornean bearded pigs, and visayan warty hogs. The elusive clouded leopard also makes his home in Monkey Trails. Clouded leopards can also be seen in the zoo's "Wild Ones" show. Pygmy hippos, slender snouted crocodiles, and many species of turtles and fish can be seen in a series of water/land exhibits all with underwater viewing areas. The African Aviary is home to many colorful birds such as the amethyst starling, tinkerbirds and the sociable weaver. In smaller exhibits are many repitles and amphibians such as pancake tortoises, green mambas, fire skinks, and many species of arthropods such as scorpions. Monkey Trails utilizes a new method of displaying tree climbing animals- by climbing up an elevated walkway throughout the exhibit. Some of the horticultural highlights in Monkey Trails include a fiscus tree, cycads, and the ever colorful bog garden.

Panda Research Station As of September, 2008, the San Diego Zoo is one of four zoos in the U.S. who has giant pandas on display, and is the most successful in terms of panda reproduction. The first two giant panda cubs in U.S. history to have been born in the U.S. and survive into adulthood, Hua Mei (female) and Mei Sheng (male) were born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1999 and 2003, respectively. Since then, two more giant panda cubs, Su Lin and Zhen Zhen, both females, have been born to the resident giant panda parents Bai Yun and Gao Gao. In addition to being able to view this rare animal species, the Giant Panda Discovery Center nearby has interactive exhibits that let the visitor experience first hand what the animals smell and sound like.

Polar Bear Plunge Polar Bear Plunge is one of the most famous highlights at the San Diego zoo. With over 30 species in this area of the zoo, Polar Bear Plunge houses an array of animals representing the arctic. The main animals in the area are the polar bears, Kalluk, Chinook and Tatqiq. Another animal that makes its home in Polar Bear Plunge is the reindeer or caribou. A large moat separates the bears and the deer, but to the guests it would appear that they are in one exhibit, making it more similar to the wild. By walking down polar bear path, an underwater viewing area is available to view the polar bears swimming. Further down the path lies the arctic aviary, home to the diving ducks. Some of the diving ducks are buffleheads, harlequin's duck, the smew and long-tailed ducks. The aviary houses more than 25 species of duck. The last stop on the Polar journey is to look at the two cat species in the area, a Pallas cat and a Serval. Some of the horticultural highlights include giant redwood trees, many different pine trees, and manzanita.

Ituri Forest This exhibit in the zoo is famous for having different species share one exhibit. Based upon the real Ituri Forest in Africa, this exhibit houses different animal species from the forests of Africa. Animals such as Allen's Swamp Monkey, spotted-necked otters, and giant forest buffalo can be found coexisting within the exhibit. In the forest, other monkey species also reside such as guenons. One of the highlights of the African adventure are the okapis grazing from the trees. These relatives of the giraffe are rarely seen in zoos and are scarcely witnessed in the wild. Some of Ituri Forest's most prominent inhabitants exist within the hippo exhibit, which includes an underwater viewing area and several species of exotic fish. One can also see bongoes in and colorful turaco birds. In the forest, over 30 species of birds reside alone, including the Congo peafowl. Some of the horticultural highlights include banana trees, sausage trees, yellow trumpet trees and even some bamboo.

Elephant Odyssey This exhibit is currently under construction and is being built in the area once known as Horn and Hoof Mesa.

Trivia Lists of miscellaneous information should be avoided. Please relocate any relevant information into appropriate sections or articles. (November 2007) Representatives from the San Diego Zoo also travel for educational events, such as this booth at Earth Day 2007 at San Diego City College.
  • During the 1960s and 1970s, admission for children under 16 was free regardless of whether they were accompanied by a paying adult.
  • The world's only albino koala in a zoological facility was born at the San Diego Zoo and was named Onya-Birri, which means "ghost boy" in an Australian Aboriginal language. The San Diego Zoo also has the largest number of koalas outside of Australia.
  • The largest number of New Guinea Singing Dogs in one place in the world is at the San Diego Zoo with seven. Two of the dogs are on exhibit and have recently given birth to four pups, and one is off exhibit and does shows and is present at other events. New Guinea Singing Dogs are extremely endangered.


Caribbean Flamingo pool

Maloo (born April 10, 2001) is a Queensland Koala

Buergers' Tree-kangaroo

Speke's Gazelle

Two Addax

South African Springbok

Zambian Sable Antelope

Bornean Bearded Pig

Masai Giraffe

Vaal Rhebok

Cuvier's Gazelle

Secretary Bird

Scimitar-horned Oryx

Southern Lesser Kudu

Southern Bush Pig

Chacoan Peccary

Great Blue Heron

Common Shelduck


Polar Bear

See also
  • Ken Allen
  • San Diego Wild Animal Park
  • San Diego Zoo Animal Explorer

  1. ^ San Diego Zoo: World-famous zoo is a must-see attraction for SD visitors
  2. ^ Annual Report
  3. ^ Filming Locations of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
  4. ^ "An albino koala adds color to San Diego Zoo" June 5, 1998.


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