The San Diego Zoo is one of San Diego's most visited tourist attractions in the city
The "World-Famous" San Diego Zoo sits on 100 acres and was founded almost 100 years ago by Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth, who founded the Zoological Society of San Diego. It all started with a few animal exhibits in 1915 during the Panama-Califonia International Exposition. In 1916, the Zoological Society of San Diego became incorporated by Dr. Harry Wegeforth and a few friends. In 1922, the zoo was moved to its current location at Balboa Park and started with around 4,000 animals. Today, when it comes to standards on how a zoo should be run, The San Diego Zoo usually gets brought up by name around the world.
You'll find animals and creatures from all over the world at the San Diego Zoo. Check out the many terrains and habitats like Elephant Odyssey, Monkey Trails, Tiger River, Polar Bear Plunge, Absolutely Apes and more! During the Summer, you can experience the Nighttime Zoo where you'll get to see the animals' nocturnal behaviors.
Plan on spending an entire day, between opening to closing hours, at the San Diego Zoo if you want to see EVERYTHING. You'll be counting thousands of steps during your walk around the park so wear some good athletic shoes with proper support.
While you're there, take a ride across the park on the Skyfari aerial tram. It's also a great way to see just how much stuff there is to do and how much ground you'll need to cover in order to see everything at the San Diego Zoo. There's also a guided bus tour if you're interested in getting a narration from a guide while you're looking at all of the exhibits.
We have the biggest collection of pandas (most endangered) in the entire North American continent. Around 1,600 giant pandas to be exact. While you're visiting the pandas, don't forget about the polar bears right down the path. They've got a cool swimming pool where you occasionally can see them play underwater! The apes and monkeys should get some visitor love too. Bring your children, as they usually can be seen interacting with kids through the glass wall.
The San Diego Zoo has had a number of "escapees" over the years. Ken Allen, a Bornean orangutan AKA "the hairy Houdini," has escaped several times. In early 2015, two Wolf guenons managed to escape their Ituri Forest enclosure. One of them was found on a fence line near Route 163, but was captured and returned unharmed. In 2014, a koala named Mundu was found on a nearby tree outside of the Koalafornia Australia Outback enclosure. Zookeepers were able to lure him down the tree after hours that day. In March 2013, during a private party at the Zoo, officials had to initiate a lockdown when two striped hyenas somehow broke out of their areas. They were found a short time later, sedated using a dart, and then returned back to the zoo.
The San Diego Zoo is located just outside of Downtown San Diego in Balboa Park. They are open 365 days a year. Hours are between 9 AM and 6 PM (varies by season). Tickets for the park, bus tour, and Skyfari tram can be purchased onsite or through the San Diego Zoo website.
Guests are allowed to bring in outside food and drinks, but are NOT allowed to bring in glass or straws in order to help protect the animals.
A hippopotamus also known as the common hippo swims in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo, California on January 13, 2015. The name hippopotamus comes from the ancient Greek for 'river horse'. Hippos can be very aggressive toward humans. (Photo credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Flamingos wade through a pond inside their enclosure at the San Diego Zoo, California on January 13, 2015. Flamingos are mostly found in South America but can also be found in South Asia, Europe and Africa. (Photo credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
In this handout from the Zoological Society of San Diego, Su Lin, the San Diego Zoo's 16-week-old giant panda cub, shows off two of her new canine teeth during her weekly veterinary exam November 23, 2005 in San Diego, California. According to San Diego Zoo veterinarians, the cub now has 14 to 16 teeth. Su Lin weighs 11.3 pounds and measured more than 2 feet. (Photo by Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo via Getty Images)
A gorilla named Jessica holds its two week old unnamed baby in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo, California on January 13, 2015. A naming competition is currently underway for Jessica's sixth baby gorilla. Gorillas' live in tropical or subtropical forests in Africa. (Photo credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)