San Diego is one of the true tourism gems of America. Not only is the Californian city sun-soaked and lined in stunning beaches, but it holds a plethora of activities for people of all ages. One of those destinations is the San Diego Zoo – a benchmark facility known worldwide as one of the planet’s best zoos. But, for many tourists, the San Diego Zoo is such a massive facility it can feel overwhelming. As such, a guide to visiting the zoo is not only recommended, but in some cases required. This is one of those guides.
About the San Diego Zoo
Focused heavily on conservation, the San Diego Zoo is one of the most prestigious zoos in the world. Founded in 1916, the zoo has a membership base of more than half a million people making it the largest zoological association on the planet. In total, the various facilities that make up the zoo hold over 6,000 animals, many extremely endangered.
Main Zoo Guests and Attractions
The San Diego Zoo is actually divided into two different parks. The first park is the zoo itself, which is home to around 3,700 animals and a botanical collection of 700,000 exotic plants. Of the animals in the zoo, over 650 different species and sub-species are featured. Some of the most popular guests of the zoo include the giant panda, the Amur leopard, tigers, and polar bears.
At a different site, the San Diego Zoo also operates a safari park, which is a massive sanctuary set on 1,800 acres of land. In the safari park, there are over 2,600 animals from 300 species. There is also an extensive collection of plants amassing a staggering 1.5 million samples. At the safari park, you’ll have the chance to spot cheetahs racing through the flats, rhinos grazing, and see lemurs playing in the trees.
Creating an Itinerary for a Day in the Zoo
The truth is, to visit both of the San Diego Zoo’s facilities you’ll need more than one day. And, to get the most out of your time at each facility you’ll need to do some planning.
At the San Diego Zoo itself, you’ll want to try to plan your visit around the various animal encounters. These are moments where you not only get the chance to see some of the animals more actively, but also hear a presentation from some of the zoo keepers. For example, some of the encounters include watching keepers tend to Elephants, hear a zoo keeper handle maned wolves or pangolin, and there’s even feedings of animals like the giraffes, where you can actually hand a giraffe their afternoon snack. These encounters happen throughout the day, so be sure to check the schedule upon arrival.
Over at the Safari Park it’s much easier to plan your day as much of the activities come as part of a specific safari. There are, of course, options to how you do your safari. For example, there are cart safaris, caravan safaris, or even a “Flightline” safari where you zip-line through the park. In fact, another great option is what they call the “Roar and Snore” where you visit the park and then camp in their grounds for the night.
Getting the Most out of your Visit
At the end of the day, the most important thing when visiting the San Diego Zoo is to come away with a better appreciation for the wildlife and nature in general. Though you might be intent on seeing as many animals as possible, the most important thing is to have an experience in which you gain a positive experience, and enjoy your time as well.