San Diego Zoo: Possibly the biggest and best zoo experience in the US

There are a lot of of zoos in the world, each of them boasting their own roster of animals and features that set them apart.

Then, there’s the San Diego Zoo. It is one of the most popular zoos around and rightfully so. It’s a massive experience that takes a long time to fully enjoy. But it’s more than worth the effort if you’re into the zoo experience.

The San Diego Zoo is born

San Diego Zoo has a hopefully unique origin story. In 1915, the Panama-California Exposition happened in San Diego. When it was done, several exotic animal exhibits were abandoned and left behind. What became the San Diego Zoo was born out of a need to care for them.

In addition to the animals from the Exposition, the zoo would also go on to take in the animals from the Wonderland Amusement Park. The beachfront park opened its doors in 1913 but quickly closed them. Fortunately, the San Diego Zoo project was there.

Located in Balboa Park, the original iteration of the San Diego Zoo opened its doors in 1916 and grew from there. That being said, it has continued to grow by leaps and bounds since then, including becoming a key pioneer in certain areas.

An different zoo experience

Early in its development, the San Diego Zoo became a leading force in building cageless exhibits. Whenever possible, moats were used as barriers instead of cages. This was better for both the animals and the people who were viewing them.

San Diego Zoo

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 11: General view outside San Diego Zoo as entertainment venues remain closed due to coronavirus on April 11, 2020 in San Diego, California. The entertainment industry has been hit hard by the restrictions in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

The first of these exhibits featured lions, a cornerstone of any zoo, and opened in 1922. That being said, this style of exhibit isn’t always applicable in every situation and for every animal. But the quality of experience it provides cannot be denied.

Since then, San Diego Zoo has continued to grow in scope and physical size. The addition of more animals as well as beautifully designed homes for them has continued to cement its place as one of the top zoos in the US, if not the world.

The residents of the San Diego Zoo

The range of animals at the zoo can not be fully encompassed in a few words. Their incredible assortment of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects and more have created an almost overwhelming number of experiences.

On top of that, the zoo is filled with a stunning array of plants, many of which come from the native environments of the animals. The beauty of being situated in Southern California is that some amazing, and rare, plant life can survive and be enjoyed by visitors.

For people with mobility issues, San Diego Zoo has guided bus tours that cover the vast majority of the park. They take about 35 minutes, and let visitors enjoy approximately three quarters of the exhibits. Keeping in mind the scope of the zoo, that’s not bad.

Anyone planning a visit to San Diego Zoo needs to understand that this is not a day trip. To enjoy it completely, take your time and take it all in. Spend a couple of days there, fully enjoying a zoo experience that’s unlike any other.