San Diego is a beautiful city with a lot to offer travelers seeking a respite from their everyday lives. Roughly 120 miles south of Los Angeles and close to the Mexican border, San Diego is known for its mild climate, beautiful harbor, its many beaches, and the San Diego Zoo. William Bailey Travel reviews this popular zoo and what makes it unique.
Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is home to nearly 4,000 animals and 650 species. It is one of the first zoos to offer open-air, cageless exhibits, and is known for its attempts to recreate the natural habitats for the animals who call it home. The zoo is unique in its origin as it came into existence because of an abandoned exotic animal exhibition after the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. A permanent parcel of land was set aside as a home for the animals in August of 1921. Shortly thereafter an agreement was made between founder Dr. Harry M. Wedeforth and the city of San Diego regarding ownership and management of the zoo. Once a home base had been established additional animals were acquired from Wonderland Amusement Park (which had then shuttered its doors). A fence was erected around the parcel of land, admission prices were decided upon and a zoo was born! Around 1925 a woman by the name of Bell Benchley, originally the zoo’s bookkeeper was appointed to the position of zoo director and stayed there from 1925 to 1953. For a large part of her tenure, Ms. Benchley was the only female zoo director in the world.
Through the years the zoo has grown to be a busy tourist attraction and along with its parent organization, San Diego Zoo Global, it has the largest zoological membership in the world. With more than half a million members on record and over 3.5 million visitors annually, it is one of the most visited zoos worldwide. There are so many habitats, activities, special experiences and educational opportunities that it is highly suggested guests go to the zoo’s website to plan their day of adventure prior to a visit. There are also a plethora of ticket options available, ranging from 1-day passes to 3-day, all-inclusive passes that include free admission to other nearby parks. Hours of operation vary depending on the day of the week and the month of the year. Information regarding pricing and hours can be found online at zoo.sandeigozoo.org.