San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park
Balboa Park (San Diego)
Balboa Park is a urban cultural park in San Diego, California. The park is named after the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa...

, San Diego, California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, is one of the most progressive zoos in the world, with over 4,000 animals of more than 800 species. It is also one of the few zoos in the world that houses the giant panda
Giant Panda
The giant panda, or panda is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the panda's diet is 99% bamboo...


It is privately operated by the nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego
Zoological Society of San Diego
The Zoological Society of San Diego is a non-profit organization that operates the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the Institute for Conservation Research. It was founded in 1916 under the leadership of Dr. Harry M...

 on 100 acres (40.5 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
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums was founded in 1924 and is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and public aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation.The AZA headquarters is located in Silver...

 (AZA) and the American Association of Museums
American Association of Museums
The American Association of Museums is a non-profit association that has brought museums together since its founding in 1906, helping develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and advocating on issues of concern to the museum community...

 (AAM), and a member of the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums is the "umbrella" organisation for the world zoo and aquarium community. Its mission is to provide leadership and support for zoos, aquariums, and partner organizations of the world in animal care and welfare, conservation of biodiversity, environmental...



The San Diego Zoo grew out of exotic animal exhibitions abandoned after the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth
Harry M. Wegeforth
Harry Milton Wegeforth was a physician in San Diego who led the effort to create the San Diego Zoo in 1916, and served as president of the board of directors of the Zoological Society of San Diego from its founding until his death in 1941...

 founded the Zoological Society of San Diego, meeting October 2, 1916, which initially followed precedents set by the New York Zoological Society at the Bronx Zoo
Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is located in the Bronx borough of New York City, within Bronx Park. It is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, comprising of park lands and naturalistic habitats, through which the Bronx River flows....

. He served as president of the society until 1941. A permanent tract of land in Balboa Park was set aside in August 1921, and the zoo began to move in the following year. Ellen Browning Scripps
Ellen Browning Scripps
Ellen Browning Scripps was an American philanthropist who was the founding donor of several major institutions in Southern California.-Biography:...

 financed a fence around the zoo so that it could begin charging an entrance fee to offset costs. The publication ZooNooz commenced in early 1925.

Frank Buck
Frank Buck (animal collector)
Frank Howard Buck was a hunter and "collector of wild animals," as well as a movie actor, director, writer and producer...

 went to work as temporary director for the San Diego Zoo on June 13, 1923, signed to a three-year contract by Dr. Wegeforth. Dr. William T. Hornaday, director of the Bronx Zoo
Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is located in the Bronx borough of New York City, within Bronx Park. It is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, comprising of park lands and naturalistic habitats, through which the Bronx River flows....

, 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.

In 1932, a San Diego county assessor hosted an auction to sell the animals to pay for the zoo's unpaid property taxes. The stunt resulted in no bidders and the zoo then fell under the city's ownership.

After several other equally short-lived zoo directors, Dr. Wegeforth appointed the zoo's bookkeeper, Belle Benchley
Belle Benchley
Belle Jennings Benchley, known as “The Zoo Lady,” was the director of the San Diego Zoo from 1927 to 1953, guiding its expansion from a small collection of animals to an innovative, world-class zoo.-Personal:...

, 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. For most of that time she was the only female zoo director in the world. She was succeeded as director by Dr. Charles Schroeder.

The San Diego Zoo has been a pioneer in building "cageless" exhibits. Dr. 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.

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

The zoo's Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 (CRES) was founded in 1975 at the urging of Dr. Kurt Benirschke
Kurt Benirschke
Kurt Benirschke is a German-born American pathologist, geneticist and expert on the placenta and reproduction in humans and myriad mammalian species....

, 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.

An orangutan
Orangutans are the only exclusively Asian genus of extant great ape. The largest living arboreal animals, they have proportionally longer arms than the other, more terrestrial, great apes. They are among the most intelligent primates and use a variety of sophisticated tools, also making sleeping...

 named Ken Allen
Ken Allen
Ken Allen was the name given to a Bornean orangutan at the San Diego Zoo. He became one of the most popular animals in the history of the San Diego Zoo because of his many successful escapes from his enclosures. He was nicknamed "the hairy Houdini"....

 was reported in several newspapers in the summer of 1985 for repeatedly escaping from the supposedly escape-proof orangutan enclosure.

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. The San Diego Zoo also has the largest number of koalas outside of Australia.


The zoo offers a guided tour bus that traverses 75% of the park. There is an overhead gondola lift
Gondola lift
A gondola lift is a type of aerial lift, normally called a cable car, which is supported and propelled by cables from above. It consists of a loop of steel cable that is strung between two stations, sometimes over intermediate supporting towers. The cable is driven by a bullwheel in a terminal,...

 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
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

. The San Diego Zoo Skyfari is a Von Roll type 101.

Exhibits are often designed around a particular habitat
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

. 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 gorilla
Gorillas are the largest extant species of primates. They are ground-dwelling, predominantly herbivorous apes that inhabit the forests of central Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species and either four or five subspecies...

s) to the Arctic taiga
Taiga , also known as the boreal forest, is a biome characterized by coniferous forests.Taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. In North America it covers most of inland Canada and Alaska as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States and is known as the Northwoods...

 and tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

 in the summertime (featuring polar bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

s). Some of the largest free-flight aviaries
An aviary is a large enclosure for confining birds. Unlike cages, aviaries allow birds a larger living space where they can fly; hence, aviaries are also sometimes known as flight cages...

 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 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
Species Survival Plan
The American Species Survival Plan or SSP program was developed in 1981 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild....


The San Diego Zoo is one of the world's few major zoos to have almost all of its major exhibits be open-air; in fact, the only major exhibition building on grounds is the Reptile House.

The cool, 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
An arboretum in a narrow sense is a collection of trees only. Related collections include a fruticetum , and a viticetum, a collection of vines. More commonly, today, an arboretum is a botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants intended at least partly for scientific study...

, 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
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 for the pandas on long-term loan from China, and it maintains 18 varieties of eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia...

 trees to feed its koala
The koala is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia, and the only extant representative of the family Phascolarctidae....


Keepers and most other employees at the San Diego Zoo are members of Teamsters
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is a labor union in the United States and Canada. Formed in 1903 by the merger of several local and regional locals of teamsters, the union now represents a diverse membership of blue-collar and professional workers in both the public and private sectors....

 Union Local 481.


Monkey Trails and Forest Tales
Monkey Trails showcases monkeys and other animals from the rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s of Asia and Africa. Opened in 2005, it replaced an older exhibit known as the Monkey Yard. Monkey Trails is home primarily to monkeys such as guenons, mangabey
The term mangabey can refer to three different genera of Old World monkeys. Lophocebus and Cercocebus were once thought to be very closely related, so much so that all the species were in one genus...

s, and mandrill
The mandrill is a primate of the Old World monkey family, closely related to the baboons and even more closely to the drill. Both the mandrill and the drill were once classified as baboons in genus Papio, but recent research has determined they should be separated into their own genus, Mandrillus...

s, but it also showcases many other species of animals, such as Visayan warty pigs
Visayan warty pig
The Visayan Warty Pig, Sus cebifrons, is a critically endangered species of pig. The Visayan warty pig is endemic to two of the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines, and is threatened by habitat loss, food shortages and hunting - these are the leading causes of the Visayan Warty Pig's status...

 and Bornean bearded pig
Bearded Pig
The bearded pig , also known as the Bornean bearded pig, is a species of pig. It can be recognized by its prominent beard. It also sometimes has tassels on its tail. It is found in Southeast Asia—Sumatra, Borneo, the Malay Peninsula, and various smaller islands—where it inhabits rainforests and...

s. Pygmy hippos, slender-snouted crocodile
Slender-snouted Crocodile
The African Slender-snouted Crocodile is a species of crocodile. Recent studies in DNA and morphology suggest that it may belong in its own genus, Mecistops, but at present most continue to use Crocodylus for this species.African Slender-snouted Crocodile are native to freshwater habitats in...

s, and many species of turtles and fish can be seen in a series of water/land exhibits all with underwater viewing areas. The Scripps Aviary is home to many colorful birds such as the amethyst starling, tinkerbird
The tinkerbirds or tinker barbets are the genus Pogoniulus of the Lybiidae, the African barbet family of near passerines which was formerly included in the Capitonidae and sometimes in the Ramphastidae...

s, and the sociable weaver
Sociable Weaver
The Sociable Weaver or Social Weaver is a species of bird in the Ploceidae family endemic to Southern Africa. It is monotypic within the genus Philetairus. It is found in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. but their range is centred around Northern Cape Province and southern Namibia...

. In smaller exhibits are many reptiles and amphibians such as pancake tortoise
Pancake tortoise
The pancake tortoise is a flat-shelled tortoise native to Tanzania and Kenya. Its name is derived from the flat shape of its shell. It is the only member of the genus Malacochersus.-Description:...

s, and many species of arthropod
An arthropod is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton , a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Arthropods are members of the phylum Arthropoda , and include the insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and others...

s such as Madagascar hissing cockroach
Madagascar hissing cockroach
The Madagascar hissing Cockroach , also known as the Hissing Cockroach or simply Hisser, is one of the largest species of cockroach, reaching 2–4 inches at maturity. They are from the island of Madagascar off the African coast, where they can be found in rotting logs.Unlike most cockroaches, they...

s. 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
Ficus is a genus of about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphyte in the family Moraceae. Collectively known as fig trees or figs, they are native throughout the tropics with a few species extending into the semi-warm temperate zone. The Common Fig Ficus is a genus of...

 tree, cycads, and a bog garden.

Panda Trek
As of July 2011, the San Diego Zoo is one of four zoos in the U.S. which have giant panda
Giant Panda
The giant panda, or panda is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the panda's diet is 99% bamboo...

s 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
Bai Yun
Bai Yun is a female giant panda currently at the San Diego Zoo. Bai Yun was the first successful birth of a giant panda at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in China...

 and Shi Shi
Shi Shi (giant panda)
Shi Shi , or "Rock", was a male giant panda who briefly stayed at the San Diego Zoo. He was the sire of Hua Mei.-History:...

) and Mei Sheng
Mei Sheng
Mei Sheng is a male giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo. He is the second panda to be born at the zoo and is the first offspring of Bai Yun and Gao Gao. He is the half brother of Hua Mei and the brother of Su Lin, Zhen Zhen, and Yun Zi.Mei Sheng was sent to China on November 5, 2007...

 (male, born to Bai Yun and Gao Gao
Gao Gao
Gao Gao is a male giant panda currently at the San Diego Zoo. To date, he is the sire to four giant pandas in captivity.-History:Gao Gao was born in the wild in China, around 1992, and was taken to the Fengtongzhai Nature Reserve in 1993 suffering from injuries which resulted in the loss of...

), were born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1999 and 2003, respectively. Since then, three more giant panda cubs, Su Lin and Zhen Zhen
Zhen Zhen
Zhen Zhen, , pronounced 'jun jun' is a female giant panda born to Bai Yun and Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo. Her name means "Precious". She is Bai Yun's fourth cub, and Gao Gao's third. Zhen Zhen has one half sibling, Hua Mei, and three full siblings, Mei Sheng, Su Lin, and Yun Zi...

 (both females), and Yun Zi
Yun Zi
Yun Zi is a male giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo on August 5, 2009. His name is "Son of Cloud" in Chinese.Weighed in at 4 ounces, Yun Zi is the fifth cub born to his mother Bai Yun, and the fourth to his father Gao Gao. He has one half-sister, Hua Mei, through Bai Yun. He also has one full...

 (male), have been born to the resident giant panda parents Bai Yun and Gao Gao. All these American-born cubs except Yun Zi have been sent back to China to participate in the breeding program there. 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, a gaboon pit viper, and an exhibit comparing several types of bamboo.

Polar Bear Plunge
Polar Bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

 Plunge, which opened in 1996 and was renovated in March 2010, houses over 30 species representing the Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

. 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 are the reindeer
The reindeer , also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic, including both resident and migratory populations. While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and one has already gone extinct.Reindeer vary considerably in color and size...

 or caribou, the Arctic fox
Arctic fox
The arctic fox , also known as the white fox, polar fox or snow fox, is a small fox native to Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and is common throughout the Arctic tundra biome. The Greek word alopex, means a fox and Vulpes is the Latin version...

, and the raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

. An underwater viewing area is available to observe the polar bears swimming in their 130000 gallons (492,103.6 l) pool. Farther down the path lies the arctic aviary, home to the diving duck
Diving duck
The diving ducks, commonly called pochards or scaups, are a category of duck which feed by diving beneath the surface of the water. They are part of the diverse and very large Anatidae family that includes ducks, geese, and swans....

s including bufflehead
The Bufflehead is a small American sea duck of the genus Bucephala, the goldeneyes. This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Anas albeola.-Description:...

s, harlequin duck
Harlequin Duck
The Harlequin Duck is a small sea duck. It takes its name from Arlecchino, Harlequin in French, a colourfully dressed character in Commedia dell'arte. The species name comes from the Latin word "histrio", "actor". In North America it is also known as Lords and ladies...

s, the smew
The Smew is a small duck, which is somewhat intermediate between the typical mergansers and the goldeneyes . It is the only member of the genus Mergellus; sometimes included in Mergus, this genus is distinct and might actually be a bit closer to the goldeneyes...

s, and long-tailed duck
Long-tailed Duck
The Long-tailed Duck or Oldsquaw is a medium-sized sea duck. It is the only living member of its genus, Clangula; this was formerly used for the goldeneyes, with the Long-tailed Duck being placed in Harelda...

s. The aviary houses more than 25 species of duck. Some of the horticultural highlights include giant redwood tree
Redwood Tree
"Redwood Tree" is the sixth song on Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison's 1972 album, Saint Dominic's Preview. When released as a single it was not as successful as Rolling Stone reviewer Steven Holden had anticipated: "The affirmation of Saint Dominic's Preview is translated to the past...

s, many different pine trees, and manzanita
Manzanita is a common name for many species of the genus Arctostaphylos. They are evergreen shrubs or small trees present in the chaparral biome of western North America, where they occur from southern British Columbia, Washington to California, Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, and...


Ituri Forest
Based upon the real Ituri Forest in Africa, this exhibit houses different animal species from the forests of Africa. Animals such as Allen's swamp monkey
Allen's Swamp Monkey
Allen's swamp monkey is a primate species that is categorized in its own genus Allenopithecus in the Old World monkey family...

s, lesser spot-nosed guenons
Lesser Spot-nosed Monkey
The lesser spot-nosed monkey, lesser spot-nosed guenon, lesser white-nosed guenon, or lesser white-nosed monkey is a species of primate in the Cercopithecidae family. It is found in Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo, possibly Gambia, possibly Guinea-Bissau, and...

, spotted-necked otters, a red river hog
Red River Hog
The red river hog , also known as the bush pig , is a wild member of the pig family living in Africa, with most of its distribution in the Guinean and Congolian forests...

, and an African forest buffalo
African Forest Buffalo
The African Forest Buffalo is smaller than the Cape Buffalo, with horns that curves out backwards and upwards. Usually weighing , they are reddish brown in color. Its native habitat is the equatorial forest found in central and western Africa, and its diet consists primarily of grasses, twigs, and...

 can be found coexisting within the exhibit. One of the prominent species of the African exhibit is the okapis grazing from the trees. These relatives of the giraffe
The giraffe is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest of all extant land-living animal species, and the largest ruminant...

 are rarely seen in zoos and are scarcely witnessed in the wild. Some of Ituri Forest's most prominent inhabitants exist within the hippo
A hippo or hippopotamus is either of two species of large African mammal which live mainly in and near water:* Hippopotamus* Pygmy HippopotamusHippo may also refer to:-Given names:...

 exhibit, which includes an underwater viewing area and several species of exotic fish, such as tilapia
Tilapia , is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapia inhabit a variety of fresh water habitats, including shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Historically, they have been of major importance in artisan fishing in Africa and the...

. One can also see the colorful turaco
The turacos make up the bird family Musophagidae , which includes plantain-eaters and go-away-birds. In southern Africa both turacos and go-away-birds are commonly known as louries. They are semi-zygodactylous - the fourth toe can be switched back and forth...

s. In the forest, over 30 species of birds reside, including the Congo peafowl
Congo Peafowl
The Congo Peafowl is a species of peafowl. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Afropavo.The male is a large bird of up to in length. Its feathers are deep blue with a metallic green and violet tinge. It has bare red neck skin, grey feet, and a black tail with fourteen feathers...

. Some of the horticultural highlights include banana trees
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

, sausage trees
Kigelia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. The genus comprises only one species, Kigelia africana, which occurs throughout tropical Africa from Eritrea and Chad south to northern South Africa, and west to Senegal and Namibia.-Etymology:The genus name comes from the...

, yellow trumpet trees, and bamboo.

Elephant Odyssey
This exhibit opened on May 26, 2009 in the area once known as Hoof and Horn Mesa. The main feature of the exhibit is the 2.5 acres (10,117.2 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 eight females (Tembo, Devi, Sumithi, Cha Cha, Mary, Cookie, Tina, and Jewel) and blends the Zoo's herd of one African and two Asian elephants with the Wild Animal Park's four Asian Elephants. Two elephants, Tina and Jewel, were brought to the zoo on August 22, 2009. 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
Columbian Mammoth
The Columbian Mammoth is an extinct species of elephant of the Quaternary period that appeared in North America during the late Pleistocene. It is believed by some authorities to be the same species as its slightly larger cousin, M...

, the saber-tooth cat, the American lion
American lion
The American lion — also known as the North American lion, Naegele’s giant jaguar or American cave lion — is an extinct lion of the family Felidae, endemic to North America during the Pleistocene epoch , existing for approximately...

, the Daggett's eagle
Eagles are members of the bird family Accipitridae, and belong to several genera which are not necessarily closely related to each other. Most of the more than 60 species occur in Eurasia and Africa. Outside this area, just two species can be found in the United States and Canada, nine more in...

, and the giant ground sloth
Megatherium was a genus of elephant-sized ground sloths endemic to Central America and South America that lived from the Pliocene through Pleistocene existing approximately...

. Elephant Odyssey's other animal exhibits include African lions, jaguars, tapir
A Tapir is a large browsing mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile snout. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. There are four species of Tapirs: the Brazilian Tapir, the Malayan Tapir, Baird's Tapir and the Mountain...

s, guanacos, capybara
The capybara , also known as capivara in Portuguese, and capibara, chigüire in Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador ronsoco in Peru, chigüiro, and carpincho in Spanish, is the largest living rodent in the world. Its closest relatives are agouti, chinchillas, coyphillas, and guinea pigs...

s, tree sloths, secretary bird
Secretary Bird
The Secretarybird or Secretary Bird is a large, mostly terrestrial bird of prey. Endemic to Africa, it is usually found in the open grasslands and savannah of the sub-Sahara...

s, dung beetle
Dung beetle
Dung beetles are beetles that feed partly or exclusively on feces. All of these species belong to the superfamily Scarabaeoidea; most of them to the subfamilies Scarabaeinae and Aphodiinae of the family Scarabaeidae. This beetle can also be referred to as the scarab beetle. As most species of...

s, water beetle
Water beetle
A water beetle is a beetle adapted to living in water. Water beetles rise to the water surface and take atmospheric air into their tracheal systems. There are approximately 2000 species of water beetles. The rest marine species tend to live in the intertidal zone...

s, desert scorpion
Scorpions are predatory arthropod animals of the order Scorpiones within the class Arachnida. They have eight legs and are easily recognized by the pair of grasping claws and the narrow, segmented tail, often carried in a characteristic forward curve over the back, ending with a venomous stinger...

s, toads, newts, turtles, frogs, dromedary camels, pronghorn
The pronghorn is a species of artiodactyl mammal endemic to interior western and central North America. Though not an antelope, it is often known colloquially in North America as the prong buck, pronghorn antelope, or simply antelope, as it closely resembles the true antelopes of the Old World and...

, horses, burro
The burro is a small donkey used primarily as a pack animal. In addition, significant numbers of feral burros live in the Southwestern United States, where they are protected by law, and in Mexico...

s, llamas, rattlesnakes, and for the first time at the Zoo, the California condor
California Condor
The California Condor is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. Currently, this condor inhabits only the Grand Canyon area, Zion National Park, and coastal mountains of central and southern California and northern Baja California...


Gorilla Tropics
Simulating the rainforests of central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

 and opened in 1991, Gorilla Tropics has an 8000 square foot enclosure for the eponymous species. The exhibit has waterfalls, a meadow, and tropical plants such as allspice
Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper, pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, or newspice, is a spice that is the dried unripe fruit of Pimenta dioica , a mid-canopy tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America, now cultivated in many warm parts of the world...

, coral trees, and African tulip trees, as well as several species of bamboo. Guests can view the gorillas from a viewing window, across a waterfall, and across a creek.

Absolutely Apes
This exhibit opened in 2003 and houses Bornean orangutan
Bornean Orangutan
The Bornean orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus, is a species of orangutan native to the island of Borneo. Together with the slightly smaller Sumatran orangutan, it belongs to the only genus of great apes native to Asia....

s and siamang
The siamang is a tailless, arboreal, black-furred gibbon native to the forests of Malaysia, Thailand, and Sumatra. The largest of the lesser apes, the siamang can be twice the size of other gibbons, reaching 1 m in height, and weighing up to 14 kg...

s in an 8400 square feet (780.4 m²) exhibit, which is flanked by a 110 feet (33.5 m) glass viewing window. 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. 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. Some plant species in the exhibit are toog tree
Bischofia javanica
Bischofia javanica is a plant species of the family Phyllanthaceae. It and the related B. polycarpa are the only two members of genus and tribe...

s, carrotwood trees, and markhamia trees.

Sun Bear Forest
This $3.5 million exhibit opened in 1989 and exhibits Malayan sun bears and other southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

n species. One end of the 1.5 acre (0.607029 ha) complex houses lion-tailed macaque
Lion-tailed Macaque
The lion-tailed macaque is an Old World monkey that is endemic to the Western Ghats of South India.-Physical Characteristics:...

s 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, including fairy bluebird and fruit doves. A large glass-covered exhibit with artificial vines is designed for crested gibbon
Crested Gibbon
The black crested gibbon is an endangered species of gibbon found in India, the Malay archipelago and Indochina. There are 4 subspecies.-Binomial Name:...


Tiger River
Tiger River, located in a sloping canyon, opened in 1988 and houses Malayan tigers. 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 kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher
The Collared Kingfisher is a medium-sized kingfisher belonging to the family Halcyonidae, the tree kingfishers. It is also known as the White-collared Kingfisher or Mangrove Kingfisher. It has a wide range extending from the Red Sea across southern Asia and Australasia to Polynesia...

s and stork
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long, stout bills. They belong to the family Ciconiidae. They are the only family in the biological order Ciconiiformes, which was once much larger and held a number of families....

s, and a fishing cat
Fishing Cat
The Fishing Cat is a medium-sized wild cat of South and Southeast Asia. In 2008, the IUCN classified the fishing cat as endangered since they are concentrated primarily in wetland habitats, which are increasingly being settled, degraded and converted...

 exhibit. Farther down the canyon are a Malayan tapir
Malayan Tapir
The Malayan Tapir , also called the Asian Tapir, is the largest of the four species of tapir and the only one native to Asia. The scientific name refers to the East Indies, the species' natural habitat...

 exhibit and the 1/4 acre tiger habitat, which has a hillside stream, waterfall, and glass viewing window.


The zoo is extremely active in conservation and species-preservation efforts. Its Institute for Conservation Research (formerly the Center for the Reproduction for Endangered Species) raises California Condor
California Condor
The California Condor is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. Currently, this condor inhabits only the Grand Canyon area, Zion National Park, and coastal mountains of central and southern California and northern Baja California...

s, giant panda
Giant Panda
The giant panda, or panda is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the panda's diet is 99% bamboo...

s, tiger
The tiger is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to and weighing up to . Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts...

s, African Black Rhino
Black Rhinoceros
The Black Rhinoceros or Hook-lipped Rhinoceros , is a species of rhinoceros, native to the eastern and central areas of Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Angola...

s, and a large number of other endangered species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

. Many species are bred in captivity for release into their native habitats where appropriate. It employs numerous professional geneticists, cytologists, and veterinarians and maintains a cryopreservation facility for rare sperm and eggs called the frozen zoo
Frozen zoo
A frozen zoo is a storage facility in which genetic materials taken from animals are gathered and thereafter stored at very low temperatures for optimal preservation over a long period of time...


Zoo Corps

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 16 years of age. The goals are to promote public education
Public education
State schools, also known in the United States and Canada as public schools,In much of the Commonwealth, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, the terms 'public education', 'public school' and 'independent school' are used for private schools, that is, schools...

 about animals and conservation
Conservation may refer to:* Conservation movement, to protect animals, fungi, plants and their habitats** Conservation biology, the science of the protection and management of biodiversity...

, 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.

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.

In popular culture

  • The shots of the private zoo at Xanadu
    -Description of Xanadu by Toghon Temur :The lament of Toghon Temur Khan , concerning the loss of Daidu and Heibun Shanduu in 1368, is recorded in many Mongolian historical chronicles...

     in Orson Welles
    Orson Welles
    George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

    ' 1941 film Citizen Kane
    Citizen Kane
    Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film, directed by and starring Orson Welles. Many critics consider it the greatest American film of all time, especially for its innovative cinematography, music and narrative structure. Citizen Kane was Welles' first feature film...

    were filmed at the San Diego Zoo.

  • The San Diego Zoo was the filming location for the long-running documentary television series Zoorama.
  • The San Diego Zoo, along with the St. Louis Zoo, were frequently mentioned in the Yogi Bear
    Yogi Bear
    Yogi Bear is a fictional bear who appears in animated cartoons created by Hanna-Barbera Productions. He made his debut in 1958 as a supporting character in The Huckleberry Hound Show. Yogi Bear was the first breakout character created by Hanna-Barbera, and was eventually more popular than...

     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!
    Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!
    Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! is a 1964 American animated feature film produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and released by Columbia Pictures. The film stars the voices of Daws Butler, Don Messick, Julie Bennett, and Mel Blanc...

    , 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
    Joan Embery is an animal and environmental advocate. A Trustee of the , a professional Fellow of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and a member of the Advisory Board of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's , she founded the American Association of Zoo Keepers...

    . Joan Embery brought various animals to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
    The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
    The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is a talk show hosted by Johnny Carson under the Tonight Show franchise from 1962 to 1992. It originally aired during late-night....

    between 1971 and 1987, and more recently (between 1993 and 2008) The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The zoo loaned the animals.
  • The zoo was featured prominently in the 2004 movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
    Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
    Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, or simply Anchorman, is a 2004 American comedy film, directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell. The film, which was also written by Ferrell and McKay, is a tongue-in-cheek take on the culture of the 1970s, particularly the then-new Action News format...

    , though filming was done at the old Los Angeles Zoo
    Los Angeles Zoo
    The Los Angeles Zoo , is a zoo founded in 1966 and located in Los Angeles, California. The City of Los Angeles owns the entire zoo, its land and facilities, and the animals...

    , not at the San Diego Zoo.
  • In the DreamWorks
    DreamWorks Pictures, also known as DreamWorks, LLC, DreamWorks SKG, DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC, DreamWorks Studios or DW Studios, LLC, is an American film studio which develops, produces, and distributes films, video games and television programming...

     feature film Madagascar
    Madagascar (2005 film)
    Madagascar is a 2005 computer-animated film produced by DreamWorks Animation, and released in movie theaters on May 27, 2005. The film tells the story of four Central Park Zoo animals who have spent their lives in blissful captivity and are unexpectedly shipped back to Africa, getting shipwrecked...

    , the animals from Central Park Zoo
    Central Park Zoo
    The Central Park Zoo is a small zoo located in Central Park in New York City. It is part of an integrated system of four zoos and the New York Aquarium managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society , and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums .The zoo began in the 1860s as a...

     think they are in the San Diego Zoo when they land in Madagascar
    The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

    : "White, sandy beaches; cleverly simulated natural environment; wide-open enclosures. I'm telling you, this could be the San Diego Zoo. Complete with fake rocks." In the sequel Madagascar 2
    Madagascar 2
    Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is a 2008 animated film written by Etan Cohen, and directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath. This sequel to the 2005 film Madagascar continues the adventures of Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, and Gloria the Hippo...

    , they also guess that they crash-landed in the San Diego Zoo when they see a reservation with a beautiful lake and lots of animals.
  • The Beach Boys
    The Beach Boys
    The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. The group was initially composed of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Managed by the Wilsons' father Murry, The Beach Boys signed to Capitol Records in 1962...

    ' 1966 album Pet Sounds
    Pet Sounds
    Pet Sounds is the eleventh studio album by the American rock band The Beach Boys, released May 16, 1966, on Capitol Records. It has since been recognized as one of the most influential records in the history of popular music and one of the best albums of the 1960s, including songs such as "Wouldn't...

    has a cover and various album photography from the San Diego Zoo.
  • The 6ths
    The 6ths
    The 6ths is a band created by Stephin Merritt, also the prime mover behind The Magnetic Fields, The Gothic Archies and Future Bible Heroes.One story has it that the band was conceived when Merritt, observing that there was no tribute album dedicated to him, decided to make one himself...

     first album Wasps' Nests includes a song called "San Diego Zoo", which features comprehensive directions on how to get to the zoo.
  • The zoo is talked about, though not actually shown, in the film The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a 1997 science fiction thriller film, directed by Steven Spielberg. The film was produced by Bonnie Curtis, Kathleen Kennedy, Gerald R. Molen and Colin Wilson...

  • The first YouTube
    YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

     video, Me at the zoo
    Me at the zoo
    Me at the zoo is the first video ever to be uploaded to YouTube. It was uploaded at 8:27 pm on Saturday, April 23, 2005 by Jawed Karim, one of the co-founders of the site, under the username "jawed"...

    was shot in San Diego Zoo and was uploaded to it on, April 23, 2005, by the co-creator, Jawed Karim
    Jawed Karim
    Jawed Karim is a Bangladeshi German American technologist and co-founder of the popular video sharing website YouTube...

    . It can still be viewed on YouTube.
  • The zoo was constantly a setting for at least one version of Romper Room
    Romper Room
    Romper Room is a children's television series that ran in the United States from 1953 to 1994 as well as at various times in Australia, Canada, Japan, Puerto Rico, New Zealand and the United Kingdom...



  • A regular visitor was acclaimed director and animator Chuck Jones
    Chuck Jones
    Charles Martin "Chuck" Jones was an American animator, cartoon artist, screenwriter, producer, and director of animated films, most memorably of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts for the Warner Bros. Cartoons studio...

    , who often drew the animals at this zoo.

See also

  • Ken Allen
    Ken Allen
    Ken Allen was the name given to a Bornean orangutan at the San Diego Zoo. He became one of the most popular animals in the history of the San Diego Zoo because of his many successful escapes from his enclosures. He was nicknamed "the hairy Houdini"....

  • San Diego Wild Animal Park
    San Diego Wild Animal Park
    The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park, is a zoo in the San Pasqual Valley area of San Diego, California, near Escondido. It is one of the largest tourist attractions in San Diego County. The Park houses a large array of wild and endangered animals including...

  • San Diego Zoo Corps

External links

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