San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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An 1,800 acre sanctuary for over 2,600 animals and 3,500 species of plants, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park located in nearby Escondido, CA is one of San Diego county’s most treasured and popular attractions. Visitors to southern California are sure to enjoy to shows, activities, and conservation efforts of the Safari Park and take home a new-found appreciation for the plants and animals we share our home with every day.

History

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park opened in 1972 as part of an eight-yearlong mission by the Zoological Society of San Diego to open a complimentary facility to the more well-known San Diego Zoo proper in Balboa Park. However the San Diego Wild Animal Park, as it was named until 2010, was to be different than any other more “typical” zoo in this country or anywhere else in the world. Instead of displaying animals in cages or even the “cageless” exhibits that the San Diego Zoo pioneered, the inhabitants of this new park would be seen in their natural habitat (or close to it). Also in sharp departure to other zoological parks, the purpose of the Safari Park was primarily focused on species conservation and animal breeding (both for the San Diego Zoo and other zoos across the U.S.).

Since it opened over 40 years ago, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has become one of the most renowned zoological parks in the country and the world, and not just because of its association with the San Diego Zoo proper. In fact, the Safari Park is located some 32 miles away, north along California State Route 78 in Escondido. It is next door to the Institute for Conservation Research as well as home to the world’s largest veterinary hospital. The Safari Park continues as well to serve out its mission as a bastion for conservation including being home to the country’s most successful California condor breeding program. In addition, any animal that is sent to the United States through the Port of San Diego is automatically quarantined at the Safari Park as a part of the San Diego Zoo’s continued efforts to help aid animals both in captivity and in the wild.

Main Attraction

The 2 million+ people who visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on an annual basis serve as a testament to its popularity as a tourist destination as well as an animal sanctuary and conservation center. The 1,800 acres that make up this massive preserve house animals from all corners of the globe, including the Asian Savannah and African Plains, as well as creatures from Europe and North and South Americas, and other areas within Asia and Africa. There are several permanent exhibitions stationed throughout the park including the Gorilla Forrest, Condor Ridge, Lion Camp, and the African Outpost.

Included in the cost of admission is the ability to visit the animals located throughout the park’s 13 different wildlife exhibits. There are also several great activities throughout the park. This includes a great Fisher-Price jungle gym, a splash pad, carousel and petting zoo. Daily shows feature everyone from the world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah, to the different bird trainers discussing and demonstrating the amazing abilities of the park’s inhabitants in the Frequent Flyers Show. Dining and shopping is also available throughout the park.

In addition, the park lives up to its name offering daily walking tours as well as different-themed safaris aimed at educating children of all ages about the animals that call the park home. This includes an African Tram Safari, Cart Safari, Cheetah Safari, and the unique opportunity to climb like the monkeys at the Jungle Rope Safari. All of these tours, with the exclusion of the African Tram Safari for holders of special tourist passes, are offered at an additional cost, however.

Why It’s a Must-See

Animal lovers young and old will love the rich diversity that a trip to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers all who visit. Though there are many amazing shows and animals to see at the San Diego Zoo proper, the additional opportunities to view animals in a more natural habitat during one of the many safari tours is what makes this park unique and a must-see for all who visit southern California.

Where to Buy It


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

Save up to 20% online at Smart Destinations. If you add more than one attraction to the cart, you will get an automatic savings of up to 20%. It’s called Make Your Own Pass.

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

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