San Diego Zoo


  1. Ituri Forest
  2. Scripps Aviary
  3. Gorilla Tropics
  4. Polar Bear Plunge
  5. Giant Pandas
  6. Children's Zoo
  7. Bonobos (Pygmy Chimps)
  8. Tiger River
  9. Reptile House

  1. Location

Located in beautiful Balboa Park, the 100-acre San Diego Zoo was founded by Dr. Harry Wegeforth in 1916. This colorful and extremely enterprising San Diego physician started the collection with a handful of animals left over from the Panama-California Exposition. Today, the San Diego Zoo cares for more than 4,000 individual animals representing 800 different species. Its collection of animals, as well as its plant collection of over 6,500 species, is acknowledged as one of the finest in the entire world.

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Ituri Forest

Ituri Forest is the most complex, multi-species habitat ever developed at the San Diego Zoo. Guests are transported through a mysterious African rain forest where they encounter okapis, hippopotamuses, forest buffalos, otters, and a variety of colorful birds and acrobatic monkeys. Ituri Forest gives guests a feel for daily life in the rain forest, including sights, scents, sounds, and information about the Mbuti people who live in this dense, tropical environment.

Scripps Aviary

Scripps Aviary
To walk through the San Diego Zoo's Scripps Aviary is to enter a lush African rain forest, complete with rushing waterfalls and exotic plants. Look above and you might spot some of the more than 200 colorful African native birds, including the blue-naped mousebird, silvery-checked hornbill, and gold-breasted starling. In the Scripps Aviary, the birds' free flight is easily accommodated: the enclosure measures 90 feet (27 meters) high and 150 feet (46 meters) long.

Gorilla Tropics

When you journey into Gorilla Tropics, you enter a remarkable simulation of an African rain forest. Covering 2.5 acres (1 hectare), Gorilla Tropics transports you to the sights and sounds of Africa, surrounded by thousands of native plants and enhanced by audio of actual environmental sounds of an African rain forest. Your stroll puts you in the perfect rain forest mood by the time you reach the exhibit's centerpiece, the 8,000 square-foot (720 square-meter) enclosure of a troop of western lowland gorillas.

Polar Bear Plunge

At first thought, a polar bear in sunny San Diego seems curiously out of place. But with San Diego Zoo's Polar Bear Plunge, you'll discover that polar bears are right at home, where every day is an Arctic summer day. This exhibit of more than 2 acres (0.81 hectares) brings the Arctic tundra south, with Siberian reindeer, Pallas' cats, northern birds, and native plants, along with polar bears.

Giant Pandas

The giant panda is a national treasure in China and is therefore protected by law. This unique bear has long been revered by the Chinese and can be found in Chinese art dating back thousands of years. The Chinese call their beloved pandas "large bear-cats." People outside of China have been fascinated by giant pandas since they were first described by French Missionary Pere Armand David in 1869. Now, more than 100 years later, the worldwide love for pandas has been combined with international efforts to keep them from becoming extinct.

Children's Zoo

Children's Zoo
Don't let the name fool you-our Children's Zoo is for everyone to enjoy! But there are lots of special animal exhibits and activities designed with our younger visitors in mind. The popular Petting Paddock allows kids a chance to feel the wooly coat of a sheep or comb a gentle goat's hair. Our two animal nurseries have large viewing windows to let you watch animal babies being bottle-fed or cuddled by our caring keepers.

Bonobos (Pygmy Chimps)

They are quite possibly the most intelligent primates on Earth (other than us humans, of course!). And to find them, you head to Gorilla Tropics at the San Diego Zoo, where you'll discover the bonobo, or pygmy chimpanzee. The bonobo is different from the common chimp with its slender shoulders and longer legs, along with its distinctive center-parted hairstyle. What you'll also notice is that these intelligent animals are a lot of fun to watch.

Tiger River

Tiger River
Construction for the second phase of the San Diego Zoo's New Heart of the Zoo began in September 2003, and since Tiger River runs right through it, some detouring is necessary. The path down Tiger River that started near the Zoo entrance and ran down to Ituri Forest has been temporarily closed to allow for construction access.

Reptile House & Reptile Mesa

Reptile House & Reptile Mesa
The Reptile House at the San Diego Zoo has delighted and awed visitors for generations. A stroll around its perimeter allows you to safely view an amazing collection of pythons, cobras, boas, tortoises, rattlesnakes, and gila monsters up close. Youngsters proudly point out to their parents which creatures are venomous-with the help of a red dot on the appropriate signs! Attached to the south side of the Reptile House is the Komodo dragon's expansive enclosure for easy sightings of the largest of all lizards.

Hotels San Diego Zoo

Address: 1617 First Avenue, San Diego CA, 92101 Check Rates
Hotel Chain: Holiday Inn
Welcome to the Holiday Inn Harbor View, where you'll enjoy the superior accommodations and impeccable service that has kept leisure and business travelers coming back again and again. Our 220 spacious guest rooms feature breathtaking panoramic views of sparkling San Diego Bay and the city's spectacular skyline. Amenities include coffee makers, hair dryers, remote cable TV, iron/boards, and telephones with voice mail. More info
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Downtown Holiday Inn-Harbor View $$$ Rating
Red Line Address: 1646 Front Street, San Diego CA, 92101 Check Rates
Hotel Chain: Radisson
Radisson Hotel Harbor View is conveniently located in downtown San Diego just 1 mile from San Diego International Airport, 10 miles to Sea World and about 5 miles to San Diego Zoo. Radisson Hotel offers 333 spacious newly renovated guest rooms with amenities such as in-room coffee maker, iron and board, data ports and cable TV. For recreation, guests will enjoy an outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi, fitness center with locker room and a sauna. More info
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Downtown Radisson Hotel Harbor View $$ Rating
Red Line Address: 719 Ash St., San Diego CA, 92101 Check Rates
Hotel Chain: Comfort Inn
The Comfort Inn Downtown is a tourist class hotel located in the heart of beautiful downtown San Diego. We strive to offer the finest in all of downtown, with our friendly staff and numerous amenities and services to make your stay here as comfortable as home. Some of these amenities and services include complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport/Amtrak, complimentary deluxe continental breakfast, outdoor whirlpool, safety deposit box, valet laundry service, fax and copy services, car rental service, tour desk and complimentary parking. More info
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Downtown Comfort Inn Downtown $$ Rating
Red Line Address: 701 A Street, San Diego CA, 92101 Check Rates
Hotel Chain: Sheraton
Located in downtown San Diego, the Sheraton Suites is located only blocks from the historic Gaslamp Quarter with over 75 restaurants, nightclubs and shops, and Horton Plaza, a magnificent retail and entertainment complex. The hotel offers a separate spacious living and bedroom area. The living room offers a spacious desk and work area, comfortable sofa sleeper, wet bar, mini bar, and complimentary coffee. The bedroom features the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed, which will ensure a good night's sleep. More info
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Downtown Sheraton Suites San Diego $$$$ Rating
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