San Diego Zoo

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As one of the central attractions in the jam-packed Balboa Park area of San Diego, the San Diego Zoo is an absolute must-see for everyone who has the chance. As one of the world’s oldest and largest zoological parks, the diverse entertainment, animals, and exhibits of the San Diego Zoo will captivate audiences of all ages and walks of life.

Money Saving Tip! San Diego Zoo is included on the Go San Diego Pass. If you are sightseeing in Southern California, then you can save a lot of money with the card. PLUS SAVE AN ADDITIONAL 10% OFF off a Go San Diego Pass with coupon code CMGOCITY10.

San Diego Zoo History

The story of the San Diego Zoo begins back in 1916 in the dust of the Panama-California Exposition of 1915. Many of the exotic animals from that show were hitherto abandoned and caring animal lovers, led by Dr. Harry M. Wedgeforth, decided to found a zoological society modeled after the Bronx Zoo in New York. The tract of land in Balboa Park which still houses the zoo was set aside for the animals in 1921 and the move to that spot, along with a fence surrounding it, which allowed the society to charge admission, began the next year.

Throughout its history, different zoo directors have experienced some ups and downs in terms of the future and direction of the zoo. However, the City of San Diego acquired ownership of the property in 1932 and the facility has been run smoothly on that same 100 acre spot ever since.

In 1975, the groundbreaking Center for the Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) was founded by Dr. Kurt Benirschke. Since renamed the Institute for Conservation Research, this arm of the San Diego Zoo is one of the most important elements in human zoological research in the world. As such, the San Diego Zoo has been honored to play host to some of the biggest movements in conservation and the aid of endangered species in the world. This includes the birth of the only albino Koala in captivity in 1997 as well as the establishment of the largest population of koalas outside of Australia.

Today, the zoo is home to over 3,700 animals, representing 650 species and subspecies. As a pioneer of so-called “cageless” exhibits, the zoo has led the way in animal care, conservation, and research for almost 100 years. Today, in addition to viewing the animals the zoo offers visitors the chance experience the life of these creatures, learn about conservation, and take an active role in the future of the zoo, its inhabitants, and their families in the wild.

San Diego Zoo: The Main Attraction

There is so much to do at the San Diego Zoo and its affiliated Safari Park that a family or individual could easily dedicate an entire vacation to just this destination. Highlight exhibits include the Bonobo Exhibit in the park’s Lost Forest area. This exhibit features primates believed to be the most intelligent species on the planet other than humans.

Additional attractions and exhibits at the zoo include Monkey trials, Owens and Scripps Aviaries, the Polar Bear Plunge, Elephant Odyssey, Gorilla Tropics, Absolutely Apes, Tiger River, and the Sun Bear Forrest. There is also the chance to tour the zoo via the Skyfari. This amazing ride will show visitors about 75% of the zoo’s exhibits from the air in a once-in-a-lifetime touring opportunity.

For those interested in the educational side of the San Diego Zoo, regular seminars, behind-the-scenes tours, and sleepover opportunities all offer a unique picture of the zoo and its efforts to change the lives of humans and animals alike. There’s even an option to host a party or catered event at the zoo. Those interested in a long-term relationship with the zoologists and other dedicated workers at the San Diego Zoo may also be interested in becoming a patron or member of the Zoo and Safari Park. In addition to offering free admission year-long, membership fees go towards maintaining the San Diego Zoo’s standard of excellence among zoological parks throughout the world.

The San Diego Zoo is open year-round although hours vary by season.

Why the San Diego Zoo is a Must-See

The very reputation of the San Diego Zoo makes it an absolute must-see in a pile of popular southern California attractions. As one of the world’s largest zoological parks and one so committed to the conservation of the animals who call it home, the San Diego Zoo offers its visitors the perfect marriage between modern fun and tourist attractions and serious education and conservation work.

Where to Buy San Diego Zoo Tickets

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.

Pay Full Price and purchase a ticket from San Diego Zoo either online or in person.

Purchase a Tourist pass. The San Diego Zoo is available on the Go San Diego Card and San Diego 3 for 1 Pass.