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San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo sign and logo
Entrance to the zoo with an elephant topiary
Date opened 1916, (Precursor Panama-California Exposition in previous year)
Location Balboa Park, San Diego, California, U.S.
Land area 100 acres (40 ha)[1]
Number of animals 3,700+[1]
Number of species 650+ (incl. subspecies)[1]
Memberships AZA,[2] AAM,[3] ZAA,[4] WAZA[5]
Major exhibits Absolutely Apes, Children's Zoo, Elephant Odyssey, Panda Trek, Ituri Forest, Monkey Trails, Polar Bear Plunge
Website .org.sandiegozoowww

The San Diego Zoo is a

  • Official website
  • PBS Nature: San Diego Zoo
  • Balboa Park

External links

  • Abrams, H., 1983. A World of Animals. (California: The Zoological Society of San Diego)
  • Christman, Florence (1985). The Romance of Balboa Park (4th ed.). San Diego: San Diego Historical Society.  
  • Amero, Richard W. (2013). Balboa Park and the 1915 Exposition (1st ed.). Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press.  
  • Ernst & Young LLP, 2005. "Zoological Society of San Diego Financial Statements 2004"
  • Greeley, M.,et al. 1997. The San Diego Zoo. (California: Craftsman Press)
  • Myers, Douglas (1999). Mister Zoo: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Charles Schroeder: The World-Famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park's Legendary Director. The Zoological Society of San Diego.  
  • Showley, Roger M. (1999). Balboa Park: A Millennium History. Heritage Media Corp.  
  • Wegeforth, H.M. & Morgan, N. 1953. It Began with a Roar: the Beginning of the World-Famous San Diego Zoo (revised edition). (California: Crest Offset Printing Company)
  1. ^ a b c d "About the San Diego Zoo". San Diego Zoo. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums".  
  3. ^ "American Association of Museums".  
  4. ^ "Member Location Map".  
  5. ^ "Zoos and Aquariums of the World".  
  6. ^
  7. ^ "10 great places to go wild over zoo animals". USA Today. July 17, 2008. Archived from the original on November 22, 2014. Retrieved November 22, 2014. 
  8. ^ San Diego Zoo: World-famous zoo is a must-see attraction for SD visitors
  9. ^ a b c Christman (1985), p. 67
  10. ^ a b Amero (2013), p. 126
  11. ^ a b Shaw, Marjorie Betts (Summer 1978). "The San Diego Zoological Garden: A Foundation to Build on". The Journal of San Diego History 24 (3). 
  12. ^ a b Christman (1985), p. 68
  13. ^ San Diego Historical Society History News, Vol. 23, No. 5. (May 1987), p. 3. Past Comes Alive, Fascinating facts from the Archives, Frank Buck in San Diego.
  14. ^ a b Engstrand, Iris (2005). San Diego: California's Cornerstone.  
  15. ^ "Animal Attractions: Amazing Tales from the San Diego Zoo:Modern Zoos". Nature. PBS. Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c d "Ituri Forest". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on October 16, 2006. 
  17. ^ San Diego Zoo announcement
  18. ^ Counterpunch, December 16, 2008
  19. ^ "An albino koala adds color to San Diego Zoo" June 5, 1998.
  20. ^ "Top 11 Zoo Escapes" June 24, 2013.
  21. ^ [4] "Two monkeys briefly escaped habitat" Jan 23, 2015.
  22. ^ [5] "Koala escapes enclosure at San Diego Zoo" NBC. February 25, 2014.
  23. ^ [6] "San Diego Zoo Placed on Lockdown AFter Hyenas Escape Enclosure" NBC. March 9, 2013.
  24. ^ Los Angeles Times, May 30, 1986
  25. ^ a b c
  26. ^
  27. ^ (AP) – August 5, 2009 (August 5, 2009). "The Associated Press: San Diego Zoo super panda gives birth to 5th cub". Google. Retrieved August 25, 2009. 
  28. ^ "It's a boy! San Diego zoo's newest panda cub". CBS News. September 7, 2012. 
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Giant Panda Cub Makes Debut at San Diego Zoo". ABC News. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  32. ^ a b c
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Ituri Forest - Virtual Tour - The Canopy". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on March 1, 2000. 
  35. ^ "Ituri Fores - Virtual Tour - Mbuti People". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on February 29, 2000. 
  36. ^ "Ituri Forest - Virtual Tour - River's Edge". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on March 1, 2000. 
  37. ^ "Ituri Forest - Virtual Tour - Bamboo Corridor". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on March 1, 2000. 
  38. ^ "Ituri Forest Fact Sheet". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on March 12, 2000. 
  39. ^ "Ituri Forest - Virtual Tour - Trading Post". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on March 1, 2000. 
  40. ^ "Ituri Forest - Virtual Tour - The Riverbank". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on March 8, 2000. 
  41. ^ "Lost Forest - Otters and Monkeys". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. 
  42. ^ "Ituri Forest Exhibit Map". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on March 12, 2000. 
  43. ^ "Ituri Forest - Virtual Tour - River's End". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on March 9, 2000. 
  44. ^ "Ituri Forest - Virtual Tour - End of the Tour". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on March 9, 2000. 
  45. ^ "Elephant Odyssey Explore the Exhibit". San Diego Zoo Global. Archived from the original on February 15, 2015. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ "In San Diego". The New York Times (the New York Times Company). October 17, 2004. Archived from the original on October 27, 2011. 
  50. ^ "The San Diego Zoo’s Absolutely Apes? Absolutely!". The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on October 27, 2011. 
  51. ^ a b "Lost Forest Orangutan and Siamang". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on October 27, 2011. 
  52. ^ "Absolutely Apes". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on October 10, 2006. 
  53. ^ "Mammals: Bonobo (Pygmy Chimp)". San Diego Zoo. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  54. ^ a b Greenwald, Igor (June 28, 1989). "Sun Bear Forest: A Natural Evolution". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 27, 2011. 
  55. ^ a b "Sun Bear Forest". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on October 10, 2006. 
  56. ^ a b "Tiger River". Zoological Society of San Diego. Archived from the original on October 10, 2006. 
  57. ^ Peterson, Karla (May 25, 2013). "Koalas bring the cute to new zoo site". San Diego Union Tribune. 
  58. ^ Glaetzer, S. (5 January 2014). Denmark's Copenhagen Zoo plans to lead way in Tasmanian devil care. The Mercury. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  59. ^ "Baby leopards come to San Diego zoo". Fox News. December 10, 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^ "Zoo Corps: Kids Teaching Kids". San Diego Zoo. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  63. ^ The Journal of San Diego History "LOUIS JOHN GILL: Famous but Forgotten Architect", Rev. C. Douglas Kroll, SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY, Summer 1984, Volume 30, Number 3
  64. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "SDZG History Timeline". San Diego Zoo Global. Retrieved 2015-05-27. 
  65. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Edward H. Bean Award".  
  66. ^ a b c "Exhibit Award".  
  67. ^ "Education Award".  
  68. ^ a b "International Conservation Award".  
  69. ^ "Past Plume Awards Recipients". Avian Scientific Advisory Group. Retrieved 2015-06-21. 
  70. ^ "Excellence in Marketing Award".  
  71. ^ """Balboa Park makes list of "coolest city parks. San Diego Union-Tribune. April 11, 2011. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  72. ^ Catherine E. Bell (2001). Encyclopedia of the World's Zoos, Volume 3. Routledge. p. 1141.  
  73. ^ "Joan Embry". Interned Movie Database. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  74. ^ "Filming Locations of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy". Seeing Stars. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  75. ^ "Ostrich Keepers Nix Movie Offer", Ocala Star-Banner, July 21, 1979
  76. ^ "The Beach Boys Pet Sounds Liner Notes". Capitol Records, Inc. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  77. ^ "The Lost World: Jurassic Park film locations". The Worldwide Guide To Movie Locations. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  78. ^ "Wasps' Nests". The Magnetic Fields. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  79. ^ Alleyne, Richard (July 31, 2008). "YouTube: Overnight success has sparked a backlash". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  80. ^ "Me at the zoo". YouTube. April 23, 2005. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 


  • Bai Yun, a giant panda at the San Diego Zoo

See also

  • Animals from the San Diego Zoo were often presented to the audience by Shari Lewis throughout Lamb Chop's Play-Along.
  • The shots of the private zoo at Xanadu in Orson Welles' 1941 film Citizen Kane were filmed at the San Diego Zoo.[71]
  • The San Diego Zoo was the filming location for the long-running documentary television series Zoorama.[72]
  • The San Diego Zoo, along with the St. Louis Zoo, were frequently mentioned in the Yogi Bear series of media as possible destinations Ranger Smith may ship Yogi to if he caused too much trouble at Jellystone Park. In the 1964 film Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!, Yogi was actually shipped to the San Diego Zoo, and his escape from being shipped off forms the plot of the film.
  • 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 between 1971 and 1987, and more recently (between 1993 and 2008) The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The zoo loaned the animals.[73]
  • The zoo was featured prominently in the 2004 movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, though filming was done at the old Los Angeles Zoo, not at the San Diego Zoo.[74]
  • The zoo is featured in the 1965 film Scavenger Hunt, in which each of the five teams in a scavenger hunt steals an ostrich from the zoo. (Actual ostriches were not used.)[75]
  • The Beach Boys' 1966 album Pet Sounds has a cover and various album photography from the San Diego Zoo.[76]
  • The zoo is talked about, though not actually shown, in the film The Lost World: Jurassic Park.[77]
  • The 6ths first album Wasps' Nests includes a song called "San Diego Zoo",[78] which features comprehensive directions on how to get to the zoo.
  • The first YouTube video, Me at the zoo was shot in San Diego Zoo and was uploaded to it on, April 23, 2005, by the co-creator, Jawed Karim. It can still be viewed on YouTube.[79][80]
  • The San Diego Zoo is mentioned in DreamWorks Animation Madagascar (2005 film) from Melman because of wide open spaces when the gang landed in Madagascar. In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa the animals saw their home in Africa that resembles the African Savanna exhibit from San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

In popular culture

Year Awarding body Award Notes
1958 San Diego Zoo Convention & Tourist Bureau first tourism award[64]
1961 American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (AAZPA) Edward H. Bean Award For reproduction of koalas (first koala birth in Western Hemisphere)[64][65]
1963 AAZPA Edward H. Bean Award For Galápagos tortoise hatching[64][65]
For Gila monster hatching (first Gila monster conceived and hatched in captivity)[64][65]
1964 AAZPA Edward H. Bean Award For hatching and rearing of rhinoceros iguana[64][65]
1966 AAZPA Edward H. Bean Award for Most Notable Animal Births in an American Zoo For reproduction of proboscis monkey (first birth outside of Borneo)[64][65]
For reproduction of thick-billed parrot (first hatching recorded in captivity)[64][65]
For reproduction of African softshell turtle (first hatching recorded in captivity)[64][65]
1974 AAZPA Edward H. Bean Award For birth of ruffed lemur[64][65]
1987 AAZPA Exhibit Award For East African Rock Kopje[64][66]
1988 AAZPA Education Award For East African Rock Kopje Interpretive Program[64][67]
1989 AAZPA Exhibit Award For Tiger River[64][66]
Edward H. Bean Award For California condor breeding (shared with San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park and Los Angeles Zoo)[64][65]
1991 AAZPA Edward H. Bean Award For François' langur propagation program[64][65]
Significant Achievement Award For long-term propagation of Fijian iguanas[64]
1992 AAZPA Significant Achievement in Exhibits For Gorilla Tropics[64]
1995 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Significant Achievement Award For Andean condor reintroduction program[64]
1996 AZA Significant Achievement in Exhibis For Hippo Beach[64]
2000 AZA Top Honors in International Conservation For Jamaican Iguana Conservation & Recovery Program (shared with Fort Worth Zoo, Indianapolis Zoo, Audubon Nature Institute, Sedgwick County Zoo, Tulsa Zoo, Toledo Zoo, Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, Gladys Porter Zoo, and Milwaukee County Zoo)[64][68]
Conservation Endowment Fund Award For restoration of two critically endangered West Indian rock iguana species through headstarting and release (shared with Fort Worth Zoo)[64]
2002 AZA Edward H. Bean Award For Sumatran rhinoceros breeding program (shared with Los Angeles Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden)[64]
2007 Avian Scientific Advisory Group (ASAG) Plume Award for Noteworthy Achievement in Avian Husbandry For the Light-footed Clapper Rail coalition (shared with Chula Vista Nature Center, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park, and United States Fish and Wildlife Service Reserve)[69]
2010 AZA Significant Achievement in Exhibits For Elephant Odyssey[66][70]
Top Honors for Excellence in Marketing
2014 AZA Top Honors in International Conservation For Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program in Papua New Guinea (shared with Woodland Park Zoo, Brevard Zoo, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Gladys Porter Zoo, Milwaukee County Zoological Gardens, Minnesota Zoological Garden, Oregon Zoo, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Roger Williams Park Zoo, Saint Louis Zoo, Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, and Zoo New England)[68]

The San Diego Zoo has received numerous awards for its exhibits, programs, and reproduction and conservation efforts. This list includes only awards given to the Zoo specifically, not to its parent organization; for those, see San Diego Zoo Global#Awards.


Local architect Louis John Gill designed the original buildings, cages and animal grottos and later in 1926, the Spanish Revival-style research hospital, for which Gill received an Honor Award from the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Gill also designed a bird cage at the zoo in 1937, then the largest bird cage in the world.[63]


The program utilizes a series of "Kits", which are set on tables throughout the zoo. The kits contain objects that can be used to explain why an animal is endangered or to shed light on the animal's lifestyle.Some of the kits are: Conservation Kit, Endangered Species Kit, Behavioral Enrichment Kit, and Animal Diet Kit.

Zoo Corps is a volunteer program at the San Diego Zoo that enlists high school students to teach guests at the zoo about the animals they are seeing and their place in the ecosystem. It enrolls students between 13 and 17 years of age. The goals are to promote public education about animals and conservation, and to help the students develop their ability to speak in public. The program runs year round in two sessions, one from May through November and one from January through May. Members of the Zoo Corps are expected to volunteer at least once a month.[62]

Zoo Corps

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research is the largest zoo-based multidisciplinary research effort in the world. Based at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Conservation Research adjacent to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, more than 200 dedicated scientists carry out research vital to the conservation of animals, plants, and habitats, locally and internationally.[61]

The zoo is active in conservation and species-preservation efforts. Its Institute for Conservation Research (formerly the Center for the Reproduction for Endangered Species) raises California condors, giant pandas, tigers, African black rhinos, and a 145 other endangered species. As a result they reintroduced more than 30 endangered species back into the wild, and has conserved habitat at 50 field sites. They also have over 200 conservation scientist working in 35 countries around the world. It employs numerous professional geneticists, cytologists, and veterinarians and maintains a cryopreservation facility for rare sperm and eggs called the frozen zoo.


A new exhibit called Africa Rocks is scheduled to open in 2017 after $10 million was donated to the zoo by 3800 donors.[60] The current exhibit known as Cat Canyon will have 1930s era cages and grottoes replaced with new exhibits. Africa Rocks will feature new exhibits that will create a new African experience that includes Rady Falls and a Madagascar habitat. The 65-foot-tall Rady Falls will be the largest man-made waterfall in San Diego. The Madagascar habitat will showcase seven species of lemurs, including the endangered red-ruffed lemur and the elusive aye-aye, the largest nocturnal primate on Earth. Africa Rocks will have a diversity of habitats and dozens of species. It will highlight some of the zoo’s most popular animals, such as leopards and zebras, as well as those not seen at the zoo in more than 35 years: African penguins and hamadryas baboons.

Africa Rocks

The zoo finished building a new cougar exhibit in 2014.


Two 14-week-old clouded leopard brothers arrived at the zoo in December 2012.[59]

Clouded leopard

A new Australian Outback area, nicknamed "Koalafornia", opened in May 2013. It has twice as much exhibit space for koalas, including more outdoor enclosures based on a realization that koalas need sun exposure for their health. The new area includes other Australian marsupials such as wombats and wallabies and Australian birds such as kookaburras.[57] It also houses Tasmanian devils, which are only kept in two zoos in the Americas (the other is Albuquerque's Rio Grande Zoo).[58]


Tiger River, located in a sloping canyon, opened in 1988 and houses Malayan tigers.[56] From the top of the canyon, the path first goes through a pavilion with underwater viewing of crocodilians and other aquatic reptiles. It proceeds to another pavilion, this time flanked by the Marsh Aviary, with white-collared kingfishers and storks, and a fishing cat exhibit. Farther down the canyon are a Malayan tapir exhibit and the 14-acre (0.10 ha) tiger habitat, which has a hillside stream, waterfall, and glass viewing window.[56]

Tiger River

This $3.5 million exhibit opened in 1989 and exhibits Bornean sun bears and silvery lutung monkeys.[54] One end of the 1.5-acre (0.61 ha) complex houses lion-tailed macaques in a grassy exhibit with a stream and climbing ropes. The oblong sun bear exhibit straddles the path along the rest of the complex, and a couple of small aviaries house fifteen species of birds,[54] including fairy bluebird and fruit doves.[55] A large glass-covered exhibit with artificial vines is designed for crested gibbons.[55]

Sun Bear Forest

The zoo has bred and maintained bonobos (pygmy chimps) since 1960. San Diego has currently 13 bonobos [53]


This exhibit opened in 2003 and houses four Sumatran orangutans with one Bornean orangutan and siamangs in an 8,400-square-foot (780 m2) exhibit,[49] which is flanked by a 110-foot (34 m) glass viewing window.[50] The exhibit provides sway poles and artificial trees for the primates to swing on and a fake termite mound for them to fish condiments out of.[51] The viewing area is designed to resemble the mulch-lined exhibit side of the viewing window by having rubber mulch and miniature sway poles for kids.[51] Some plant species in the exhibit are toog trees, carrotwood trees, and markhamia trees.[52]

Absolutely Apes

Simulating the rainforests of central Africa and opened in 1991,[46] Gorilla Tropics has an 8,000-square-foot (740 m2) enclosure for the eponymous species.[47] The exhibit has waterfalls, a meadow, and tropical plants such as allspice, coral trees, and African tulip trees, as well as several species of bamboo.[48] Guests can view the seven western gorillas from a viewing window, across a waterfall, and across a creek.

Gorilla Tropics

The beginning of Elephant Odyssey is the Fossil Portal, an artificial tar pit that periodically drains to reveal man-made Pleistocene-era bones. The path turns a corner and opens up at the Mammoth Passage Plaza, with an exhibit for African lions to the left, an exhibit that has housed two-toed sloths to the right, and the tip of the elephant exhibit, with a large wading pool, straight ahead. The path continues to the left along the pool, passing by the jaguar exhibit on the left. The northern end of the elephant pool drains into the Mixed Species Exhibit, which houses tapirs, capybaras, and guanacos. The path meets up with the elephant exhibit again before it reaches the Elephant Care Center, where visitors can watch keepers care for the animals. Next is an exhibit for secretary birds with grasses, a tree and a statue of the extinct Daggett's eagle nearby. Afterwards, the path goes down a crevasse with a wall embedded with vivaria for dung beetles and diving beetles, among other aquatic insects. The path tunnels below the elephant exhibit to reach the other side, where it continues between the elephant exhibit and a creek for native reptiles and amphibians. Just past the source of the stream is a restaurant and gift shop, and after that is a couple of exhibits for pronghorns, horses, and camels. Next the path splits between a playground, a rattlesnake terrerium, and a California condor aviary with artificial rock spires and a stream. The paths then reunite and join the rest of the zoo.[45]

This exhibit opened on May 23, 2009, on the site of the former Hoof and Horn Mesa area. The main feature of the exhibit is the 2.5-acre (10,000 m2) elephant habitat — more than three times the size of the zoo's former elephant exhibit, in what used to be Elephant Mesa (now the "Urban Jungle"). The herd includes one male (Ranchipur) and six females (Tembo, Mila, Devi, Sumithi, Mary and Shaba) and consists of a blended herd of three African and four Asian elephants. Elephant Odyssey also features a glimpse of the past with the Fossil Portal and life-size statues of ancient creatures of Southern California next to the exhibits of their modern-day counterparts. The ancient life represented include the Columbian mammoth, the saber-tooth cat, the American lion, the Daggett's eagle, and the Jefferson's ground sloth. Elephant Odyssey's other animal exhibits include African lions, jaguars, Baird's tapirs, guanacos, capybaras, Kirk's dik-diks, secretary birds, dung beetles, water beetles, desert tarantulas, toads, newts, turtles, frogs, dromedary camels, pronghorn, horses, burros, llamas, rattlesnakes, and the California condor.

Elephant Odyssey

Based upon the real Ituri Forest in Africa, this exhibit opened in 1999 [33] and houses different animal species from the rainforests of central Africa. The exhibit begins with a forested exhibit for okapi then winds past a recreation of two leaf-covered Mbuti huts with signage about the people's customs and traditions.[16][34][35] Next, the path leads to the hippopotamus exhibit, which also houses tilapia and has an underwater viewing area.[36] After the hippos, the path passes through a bunch of bamboo before reaching a clearing where aviaries have housed great blue turaco, emerald starlings, tambourine doves, and Congo peafowl.[37] A thatched-roof gift shop and a food stand are located in a plaza near by.[16][38][39] Immediately to the right is the African forest buffalo exhibit, which has also housed De Brazza's monkey, Allen's swamp monkey, Schmidt's spot-nosed guenon, and spotted-necked otters.[16][40] The plaza leads to a bridge flanked by the buffalo exhibit on one side and an exhibit that only the small monkeys and otters can access on the other.[41][42] Across the bridge is a creek where the otters can swim, with viewing both above and below the water's surface.[43] Afterwards, the path joins the rest of the zoo.[44]

Ituri Forest

Polar Bear Plunge, which opened in 1996[32] and was renovated in March 2010, houses over 30 species representing the Arctic. The main animals in the area are the three polar bears, named Kalluk, Chinook, and Tatqiq. More animals that make their home in Polar Bear Plunge which are reindeer or caribou, Arctic foxes, maned wolves, mountain lions, and Grevy's zebra. An underwater viewing area is available to observe the polar bears swimming in their 130,000-US-gallon (490,000 l) pool.[32] Farther down the path lies the arctic aviary, home to the diving ducks including buffleheads, harlequin ducks, the smews, and long-tailed ducks. The aviary houses more than 25 species of duck. Some of the horticultural highlights include giant redwood trees, many different pine trees, and manzanita.[32]

Polar Bear Plunge

As of July 2011, the San Diego Zoo is one of four zoos in the U.S. which have 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, born to Bai Yun and Shi Shi) and Mei Sheng (male, born to Bai Yun and Gao Gao), were born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1999 and 2003, respectively. Since then, four more giant panda cubs, Su Lin and Zhen Zhen (both females), Yun Zi (male),[27] Xiao Liwu (male),[28] have been born to the resident giant panda parents Bai Yun and Gao Gao. All these American-born cubs except Xiao Liwu have been sent back to China to participate in the breeding program there.[29] These giant pandas are viewable from a web based exhibit called the San Diego Zoo panda cam.[30] A sixth cub, Xiao Liwu (meaning "little gift"), was born on July 29, 2012 and was first let outside for visitors to see on January 9, 2013.[31] In addition to being able to view this rare animal species, the nearby Giant Panda Discovery Center has interactive exhibits that let the visitor experience first hand what the animals smell and sound like. Since the opening of Panda Trek there are now Sichuan takins, a red panda, Mangshan pitvipers, and an exhibit comparing several types of bamboo.

Panda Trek

The Scripps Aviary is home to many colorful birds such as the amethyst starling, tinkerbirds, and the sociable weaver.

Scripps Aviary

The Owens Rain Forest Aviary contains about 200 tropical birds representing 45 species. Lories, kingfishers, Bali mynahs, jacanas, woodpeckers, and argus pheasants can all be seen here.[26]

Owens Aviary

Monkey Trails showcases monkeys and other animals from the rainforests of Asia and Africa. Opened in 2005,[25] it replaced an older exhibit known as the Monkey Yard. Monkey Trails is home primarily to monkeys such as guenons, mangabeys, and mandrills, but it also showcases many other species of animals, such as yellow-backed duikers.[25] 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. In smaller exhibits are many reptiles and amphibians such as pancake tortoises, and many species of arthropods such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Monkey Trails utilizes a new method of displaying arboreal animals—by climbing up an elevated walkway throughout the exhibit. Some of the horticultural highlights in Monkey Trails include a ficus tree, cycads, and a bog garden.[25]

Monkey Trails and Forest Tales


Keepers and most other employees at the San Diego Zoo are members of Teamsters Union Local 481.[24]

The temperate, 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 San Diego Zoo also operates the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which displays animals in a more expansive setting than at the zoo. Animals are regularly exchanged between the two locations, as well as between San Diego Zoo and other zoos around the world, usually in accordance with Species Survival Plan recommendations.

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 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 Von Roll tramway company of Bern, Switzerland. The San Diego Zoo Skyfari is a Von Roll type 101.

Two Skyfari gondolas


In March 2013, the zoo, which was hosting a private party at the time, had to initiate a lockdown when two striped hyenas somehow got past their barriers, before they were "darted with a sedative and taken to the veterinary care clinic."[23]

In 2014, a koala named Mundu escaped to a neighboring tree just outside its Koalafornia Australia Outback enclosure. Zookeepers lured him down the tree once the park closed that day.[22]

In early 2015, two Wolf guenons monkeyed around outside of their Ituri Forest enclosure. One of the monkeys neared a fence line off of Route 163, but was brought back to safety without injury.[21]

The San Diego Zoo has had a number of notable escapees through the years, the most noteworthy of them is Ken Allen, a Bornean orangutan who came to be known as "the hairy Houdini," for his many escapes.[20]


The world's only albino koala in a zoological facility was born September 1, 1997, at the San Diego Zoo and was named Onya-Birri, which means "ghost boy" in an Australian Aboriginal language.[19] The San Diego Zoo has the largest number of koalas outside of Australia.

An orangutan named Ken Allen was reported in several newspapers in the summer of 1985 for repeatedly escaping from the supposedly escape-proof orangutan enclosure.[18]

The zoo's Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) was founded in 1975 at the urging of Kurt Benirschke, who became its first director. CRES was renamed the division of Conservation and Research for Endangered Species in 2005 to better reflect its mission. In 2009 CRES was significantly expanded to become the Institute for Conservation Research.[17]

Until the 1960s, admission for children under 16 was free regardless of whether they were accompanied by a paying adult.

In 1999, the zoo opened Ituri Forest, an African rainforest area, which had its first multi-species exhibit. The complex incorporated the pre-existing Hippo Beach exhibit, which had opened in 1995.[16]

The San Diego Zoo was a pioneer in building "cageless" exhibits.[12] Wegeforth was determined to create moated exhibits from the start, and the first lion area at the San Diego Zoo without enclosing wires opened in 1922.[15]

After several other equally short-lived zoo directors, Wegeforth appointed the zoo's bookkeeper, Belle Benchley, to the position of executive secretary, in effect zoo director; she was given the actual title of zoo director a few years later. She served as zoo director from 1925 until 1953.[14] For most of that time she was the only female zoo director in the world.[14] She was succeeded as director by Dr. Charles Schroeder.

Animal collector Frank Buck went to work as director for the San Diego Zoo on June 13, 1923, signed to a three-year contract by Wegeforth. William T. Hornaday, director of the Bronx Zoo, had recommended Buck for the job. But Buck quickly clashed with the strong-willed Wegeforth and left the zoo after three months to return to animal collecting.[13]

The San Diego Zoo grew out of exotic animal exhibitions abandoned after the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.[9] Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth founded the Zoological Society of San Diego, meeting October 2, 1916,[10] which initially followed precedents set by the New York Zoological Society at the Bronx Zoo. He served as president of the society until 1941.[9] A permanent tract of land in Balboa Park was set aside in August 1921; on the advice of the city attorney, it was agreed that the city would own all the animals and the zoo would manage them.[11] The zoo began to move in the following year. In addition to the animals from the Exposition, the zoo acquired a menagerie from the defunct Wonderland Amusement Park.[11] Ellen Browning Scripps financed a fence around the zoo so that it could begin charging an entrance fee to offset costs.[12] The publication ZooNooz commenced in early 1925.

"Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a zoo in San Diego? I believe I'll build one."

Harry M. Wegeforth, after hearing a lion roar at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition[9][10]



  • History 1
    • Escapes 1.1
  • Features 2
  • Exhibits 3
    • Monkey Trails and Forest Tales 3.1
    • Owens Aviary 3.2
    • Scripps Aviary 3.3
    • Panda Trek 3.4
    • Polar Bear Plunge 3.5
    • Ituri Forest 3.6
    • Elephant Odyssey 3.7
    • Gorilla Tropics 3.8
    • Absolutely Apes 3.9
    • Bonobos 3.10
    • Sun Bear Forest 3.11
    • Tiger River 3.12
    • Outback 3.13
    • Clouded leopard 3.14
    • Cougar 3.15
    • Africa Rocks 3.16
  • Conservation 4
  • Zoo Corps 5
  • Architecture 6
  • Awards 7
  • In popular culture 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

It is privately operated by the nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego on 100 acres (40 ha) 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. The San Diego Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and a member of the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). San Diego Zoo Global also operates the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

In 2013, the zoo added a new Koalafornia Adventure, providing an Australian experience. [8].giant panda It is one of the few zoos in the world that houses the [7] San Diego Zoo pioneered the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats.[6]

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