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San Diego Zoo

Fast Facts

Location: In Balboa Park, just north of downtown San Diego in California, USA.
Best Time to Visit: June through October.
Preferred Timing: 09.00 a.m. to 05.00 p.m.
How to Reach
If you want to come down here by plane, you need to come at San Diego International Airport (SAN). The airport is pretty close to the downtown San Diego. A number of airlines including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways etc. ply regular flights from different cities of USA to San Diego.
A number of Amtrak trains come from different parts of the country to the Santa Fe Depot, located in the downtown San Diego. There is also a secondary rail station at Old Town San Diego Historic Park, which is mainly used to travel within the San Diego County. Another commuter rail service — called Coaster also runs north from downtown along the coast into northern San Diego County.
One can reach San Diego by taking any of the three major Interstate roadways, the 5, 8, and 15 Freeways.
From North: If you are coming down from Los Angeles and Orange County, take Interstate 5. Now take the Pershing Drive exit and follow the signs to reach San Diego. If you are coming down from Escondido and Riverside, you need to take Interstate 15. Now take State Route 163 south Park Blvd. South exit. Now turn left and head towards north. You will find San Diego Zoo entrance off the Park Blvd. at Zoo Place.
From South: Take Interstate 5 and then take the State Route 163 north exit. Now you have to take Zoo/Museum exit and follow the signs to reach San Diego Zoo.
From East: Take Interstate 8 and then take State Route 163 south to Park Blvd. exit. Now exit at Park Blvd. and turn left and drive towards north.
A number of bus services are available from different parts of the country. GotoBus has their services to the places like Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, Nevada etc. Greyhound has services to other California cities including Los Angeles and also to Mexico. LuxBus has daily trips to Anaheim, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
You can also reach San Diego by boat as well. Reach Cruise Ship Terminal in downtown San Diego from Baja Mexico and Los Angeles.
Entry Fee: From $26 to $40 (Charges vary for adults and children)
Nearest airport: San Diego International Airport (SAN)
Nearest rail station: Santa Fe Depot

Su Lin is only 18 months old. She can already climb trees with comfortable ease, manage a bite of bamboo leaves and shoots when hungry and if you want to get personal, can probably fend herself with those strong paws. However, she is of a dignified and peaceful nature and prefers to cuddle up to her mother, Bai Yun's hairy lap instead. Su Lin is a giant Panda who has made the San Diego Zoo her home, miles away from the home of her forefathers. However, she appears to be extremely comfortable here, as do a number of other species from all over the world.

San Diego Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world, located at north of downtown San Diego in Balboa Park in California, USA. With more than 4000 rare and endangered animals of over 800 species and subspecies on 100 acres of parkland, San Diego Zoo is also one of the rare places that houses the giant panda. Run by the Zoological Society of San Diego (ZSSD), San Diego Zoo also has a collection of more than 700,000 exotic plants that, along with its wide variety of animals, make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in USA.

The Zoological Society of San Diego, that runs the San Diego Zoo, is a conservation, education, and recreation organization which has been working consistently in reproduction, protection, and exhibition of animals, plants and their habitats. Along with the zoo in San Diego, ZSSD also operates San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, and San Diego Zoo Conservation Research.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo

There are a number of ways one can visit the zoo of San Diego. You can visit the zoo at your own schedule. You can also take guided tour bus that covers two-thirds of the park area. The overhead gondola lift, called the Skyfari, is quite a popular means of visiting the zoo area that one must not miss. It gives you the aerial view of the zoo and at the same time it takes you to the opposite ends of the zoo pretty quickly.

The exhibits at the San Diego can often be found around a particular habitat. Different animals can be found side-by-side along with the native plant life in the wild. This zoo has a wide variety of animals including some of the rare species of animals in its collection which may include Arctic taiga, tundra, polar bears, gorillas, some of the largest free-flight aviaries etc. And do not forget the giant Pandas, which the San Diego Zoo is known for.

Exhibits at San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo has a wide range of animals including some rare species, some of which can be described as below:

Monkey Trails and Forest Tales:
San Diego Zoo is the home to more than 30 species of African and Asian birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Take the elevated walkway at the entrance to go to the tree canopy where you will find some rare and endangered species of monkeys including golden-bellied mangabeys, Schmidt's guenons, and mandrills. Also are there exotic pigs, clouded leopard, pygmy hippos, slender-snouted crocodiles, dwarf crocodiles, pancake tortoises, green mambas, fire skinks, scorpions, succulents, and cycads etc. You will also find species of birds like amethyst starlings, yellow-rumped tinkerbirds and sociable weavers etc.

Giant Panda Research Station:
San Diego Zoo is known world-wide for the giant pandas. Since 1987, when two giant pandas came to this zoo, the San Diego Zoo has been a popular destination for the visitors who love to see the giant black-and-white bears. Giant Panda Research Station is a brand new exhibit area with a space for 6 giant pandas, which has been expanded and renovated for the visitors. Currently it has four pandas.

Polar Bear Plunge:
This is the place where you can see the unique Arctic tundra right in San Diego. Along with this, you will also see Siberian reindeer, Pallas' cats, northern birds and native plants. It is an amazing experience seeing the playful polar bears from the underwater viewing room. It is one of the largest polar bear exhibits in the world.

Ituri Forest:
It is one of the most thrilling places in San Diego Zoo where visitors barge in to watch inter-species interactions.

Gorilla Tropics & Scripps Aviary:
This will take you to the amazing simulation of an African rain forest where you can see the gorillas, bonobos, and free-flight aviary.

Owens Rain Forest Aviary:
This is the place for the bird lovers where you can find over 200 types of birds of more than 60 species. The simulation of Southeast Asian jungle environment makes it an exciting and a must visit place for the visitors.

Children's Zoo:
Though the name suggests that it is a children's zoo, but it is surely not only for the children. The 30 special animal exhibits will surely attract everyone. Kinds can enjoy their day here by coming close to sheep or goat. It also has spider monkey, naked more-rats etc. The Children's Zoo also has a number of educational as well as functional gardens. My Color Garden has a number of plants that are grouped according to color. Butterfly and Backyard Habitat Garden has plants that attract butterflies and birds. Wig L. Worm's Composting Garden shows how garbage can be turned into a garden.

Absolutely Apes:
It is the place for the orangutans and siamangs that have been entertaining the visitors with their colorful behaviors. It also provides them the natural environment where they an climb, swing, and live in the same territory where they really love to live in.

Tiger River:
It is the rain forest bioclime that is designed to make visitors spellbound and amazed. Here you have to stroll along a riverbed pathway that will take you to a tiger's lair, a crocodilian pool, a fishing cat's den etc.

Sun Bear Forest:
Sun Bear Forest creates an Asian forest environment with its naturalistic enclosures and a number of exotic plants. You can see here Bornean sun bears — the smallest bears in the world. You will also find fairy bluebirds, fruit doves, red-cheeked gibbons, nocturnal binturongs, and lion-tailed macaques.

Flamingo Lagoon:
It is the area of the San Diego Zoo where you will find Caribbean flamingo flock with their flamboyant color. It has two viewing areas, one of which has an elevated walkway, from where you can look down into the exhibit. The area is made up of three beach areas, a nesting island, lush landscape, and a large lagoon on mild circulating water.

Reptile House & Reptile Mesa:
This is the place of amazing collection of pythons, cobras, boas, rattlesnakes, tortoises, and Gila monsters. You can also find the red diamond rattlesnake — the largest rattler in San Diego area. Here you will also see Cuban and Anegada rock iguanas, Galí¡pagos tortoises, frogs, toads, salamanders, gharials etc.

Wings of Australasia:
It is the place for a number of species of animals and plants from Australia, New Guinea, Tasmania, and neighboring islands. Within the five modules of the Australasia aviaries, you will find 36 exhibits including species of birds like Micronesian kingfishers, hornbill species, lories, Raggiana birds of paradise etc.

It is the rocky island in the plain where one can find klipspringers, gregarious dwarf mongooses, strong and powerful bateleurs, and a few smaller birds. You can also find Lions and cheetahs that use the high rocks as the place where they can spot their prey from.

Tours at San Diego Zoo

There are a few special tours that are organized at San Diego Zoo. For reservation and more information, please call +1-619-718-3000 or +1-800-407-9534.
    1½-hour Special Tour: This tour is for groups of 15 or more visitors. It gives you an introduction to some of the mammals, birds, and plants that the zoo has to offer to the visitors.

  • Fee: $15 per person (Zoo admission extra). Children under the age of 3 are free.

    2-hour Special Tour: This tour is for groups of 15 or more visitors. It focuses on the conservation of the endangered species and habitats. The tour also includes a private bus tour.
  • Fee: $20 per person (Zoo admission extra). Children under the age of 3 are free.

    2½-hour VIP Tour: This tour is for groups of 1-14 visitors. In this tour, you can visit the zoo in your own wishes. Here you can get the experience, access, and information that no one else can get. A guided tour on a private cart, you can also meet one of the animal ambassadors in this tour.
  • Fee: $350 per person (Zoo admission extra). Children under the age of 3 are free.

The total range of wildlife wealth in the San Diego Zoo is best seen upfront. No feeling can replace the sensation of seeing a creature of the wild in front of your very eyes. However, we provide you a couple of links from where you can gather an idea on how it feels to be in the San Diego Zoo. Check them out: To have a look at the most exotic snakes and reptiles of the San Diego Zoo, watch this video! For a trip inside the San Diego Wildlife Park, click on this link. Get to see some of the beautiful wildlife preserved in the zoo. Leah D'Emilio takes you to a fascinating journey through the San Diego Zoo, including interviews with animal trainers. To get close to some of the most exotic animals in the zoo, click on this link!


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