The San Diego Zoo is located in Balboa Park, San Diego, and it is considered to be one of the most progressive zoos in the world. With over 4,000 animals from more than 800 species, it is also one of the few zoos in the world to house the giant panda. The San Diego Zoo is privately operated by the nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego on 100 acres of parkland leased from the City of San Diego, and ownership of all animals, equipment and other assets belongs to the City of San Diego.
The San Diego Zoo has been a pioneer in building exhibits without cages and its first lion area without enclosing wires was opened in 1922. Exhibits are often designed around a particular animal’s natural habitat. Some of the largest free flight aviaries in existence are in the San Diego Zoo. Some exhibits have invisible wires, darkened blinds to view birds, and pools or open air moats for large mammals. The zoo offers a guided tour bus ride that traverses 75% of the park. There is also an overhead gondola lift ride named Skyfari that provides visitors with an aerial view of the zoo.
The San Diego Zoo contains 9 different zones and each zone contains various exhibits such as:
- Polar Rim, which includes the Arctic Aviary Exhibit, the Polar Bear Exhibit and the Reindeer Exhibit
- Panda Canyon, with a facility that can comfortably house up to 6 pandas
- Asian Passage, which includes the Lion-Tailed Macaque Exhibit and the Sun Bear Exhibit
- Elephant Odyssey, a 2.4-acre area that features elephants, lions, jaguars, sloths, camels, tapirs and California condors
- Lost Forest, which includes the Australasian Aviary, the Birds of Prey Exhibit, the Flamingo Exhibit, the Gorilla Exhibit, various kinds of monkey exhibits, the Taper Exhibit, the Tiger Exhibit, the Owens Aviary, the Parker Aviary and the Scripps Aviary
- Urban Jungle, featuring a herd of Masai giraffes, Soemmerring’s gazelles and native African antelopes
- Africa Rocks, with Big Cat Exhibits, the Kopje Exhibit and the Meerkat Exhibit
- Discovery Outpost, an area containing the Chidren’s Zoo, the Crocodile and Turtle Exhibit, the Giant Tortoise Exhibit, Hummingbird House, Insect House and Reptile House
- Outback, which contains the Camel Exhibit, the Koala Exhibit and the Wallaby Exhibit
The San Diego Zoo is about 85 miles south of Costa Mesa.