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The Zoo, located adjacent to downtown San Diego in Balboa Park, is 100 acres in size and houses over 4,000 animals comprised of more than 800 species from the forests and jungles of the world. It is viewed in several ways, first and foremost by walking along pathways, into aviaries, and through bioclimatic zones. There is a 35-minute Guided Bus Tour that gives a good overview of the Zoo, along with an Express Bus that stops at several locations to assist guests in accessing different areas. We suggest taking the Guided Bus Tour upon your arrival to acquaint yourself with the various areas where you would like to spend additional time. The Zoo is a unique walking experience that exhibits animals in the most natural way possible, adding shows and animal presentations throughout the day for additional enjoyment. We recommend a minimum visit time of at least three to four hours.
The Safari Park is located approximately 35 miles northeast of the Zoo, in Escondido, California. The Park spans 1,800 acres (more than half of which has been set aside as protected native species habitat) and cares for over 3,000 animals comprising more than 400 species (not including the species that inhabit the protected California native habitat which is a part of the Park). The Park showcases herd-style animals from the plains and savannas of Africa and Asia that normally roam together in the wild, such as rhinos, giraffes, and antelope. The Safari Park is a unique walking experience that exhibits animals in the most natural way possible, adding shows and animal presentations throughout the day for additional enjoyment. We recommend a minimum visit time of at least four to six hours.
The Zoo is located adjacent to downtown’s Balboa Park.
San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Drive
San Diego CA 92101
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The Safari Park is located approximately 35 miles northeast of the San Diego Zoo.
San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Road
Escondido CA 92027
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Hours for both parks can be found on our calendar page.
Smoking is not permitted anywhere on Zoo or Safari Park grounds or parking lots. Guests who wish to smoke are welcome to have their hands stamped for same-day reentry when leaving our grounds to smoke. Please keep your ticket! Safari Park guests should keep their parking receipts to avoid having to pay twice for same-day parking when leaving for and returning from smoke breaks.
Our facilities are open every day of the year, rain or shine! Depending on the extent of rain, some animals (primates, specifically) may choose to go into their off-exhibit bedroom areas, although many animals seem to enjoy the rain. Animals may be taken off exhibit for a variety of reasons including environmental conditions, health issues, and behavioral concerns. In addition, many of our exhibits are designed to allow animals to remove themselves from visitor view at any time. For these reasons, it is not always possible to predict or note these exceptions before the fact. For a report on current Zoo weather, click here, and for the Safari Park, click here.
We recognize the seriousness of food allergies, and although we would like to accommodate all guest requirements, as a not-for-profit organization we are unable to do so. Our kitchens are not equipped to prepare food separately for guests who are sensitive to certain ingredients. Each restaurant can provide an ingredient list for the items available for purchase; however, we cannot assure you that other ingredients may not be in the preparation environment.
Guests are welcome to bring a backpack into our parks.
Guests may bring personal food items into our parks. Large food storage containers such as coolers are not permitted on grounds, and no facilities are available for food storage.
For the convenience of guests, there are picnic areas located outside the Zoo’s main entrance and near the Safari Park’s entry plaza within easy walking distance of our parking lots. Zoo and Park guests who have already entered our parks may get their hand stamped for re-entry on the same day of their visit during park operating hours. Our education department makes special accommodations for school groups who have set up their visit as part of our ongoing programs. For the safety of guests and the animals in our care, please do not bring glass, alcohol, or straws into our parks.
Due to the fact that our facilities house significant populations of rare and endangered species, both the Zoo and the Safari Park are considered to be quarantined facilities. State and federal regulations for such facilities do not allow for the access of pets accompanying guests to these facilities. This also includes the unavailability of kennels to house pets during a visit to either facility.
We encourage guests to take photos at both the Zoo and the Safari Park. As a not-for-profit organization, commercial use of photos taken at our facilities is strictly prohibited. Entering photo contests does not infringe on our copyright policies as long as photos taken on our grounds are not published. Lens size and other equipment is up to you; there are no restrictions other than please be courteous to other guests who may wish to get a close look as well!
The popular Petting Paddock in the Children’s Zoo allows kids (and kids at heart) a chance to feel the wooly coat of a sheep or comb a gentle goat’s hair.
At the Safari Park, the Petting Kraal offers a very satisfactory tactile experience. Also at the Park is Lorikeet Landing, where you lend a hand—literally—in feeding the lorikeets! The Park’s interactive Animal Encounters program gives you an opportunity to have face-to-face contact with the Park’s animal ambassadors like a cheetah, alligator, serval, and other rare and exotic animals. You may interact with trainers and ask questions about the species. Interactions happen throughout the Park; check your Park map insert for times and locations. And (most of) our Special Experiences are uniquely designed to get you closer to animals!
Go to our Web site’s Animal Bytes section or use the Web site’s Search function to search for your animal. If the animal is part of our collection, its location will be noted on the response page.
There really isn’t any special time that more animals are in view, although many of our animals are “early risers” and may be a bit more active in the morning. One of the things that surprise new visitors to our facilities is the naturalistic look of our animal exhibits. In our concern for the many endangered species that we house at our facilities, we have built exhibits that mimic natural environments. Like natural environments, these areas give the animals plenty of room to hide. We have found that the ability to hide is important in the well being of many species.
The quickest way to the Zoo from the San Diego International Airport is by taxi, an 11-minute, 5-mile ride.
Amtrak railway service (800-872-7245) travels up and down the coast between Los Angeles and downtown San Diego, stopping in Oceanside. Once your train arrives in San Diego, the quickest way to the Zoo from the Santa Fe Depot is by taxi, a 9-minute, 31/2-mile ride.
A light rail service called the Sprinter travels between Oceanside and Escondido, approximately 22 miles. Once you arrive at the downtown Escondido Transit Center via the Sprinter, the quickest way to the Safari Park is by taxi, an 11-minute, 7-mile ride. You can find more information about the Sprinter on the web at HYPERLINK “http://www.gonctd.com/sprinter_intro.htm” http://www.gonctd.com/sprinter_intro.htm or by calling 760-967-2001.
Information about public bus transportation can be found on the web at www.sdcommute.com or by calling 619-233-3004. The #7 bus stops at the Zoo. There is one public bus that stops at the Safari Park; however, depending upon your departure point, connecting schedules may mean a travel time of approximately 25 minutes from the Escondido Transit Center and up to 3 hours each way from San Diego. Bus service is very limited on weekends and holidays.
Useful information can be obtained from the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, 619-232-3101. The Visitor Information Center can be reached at 619-276-8200. Another source of information is the San Diego North County Visitor Bureau, which can be reached at 800-848-3336.
Guests who are on grounds at the Zoo or Safari Park who wish to leave and return the same day at no charge during open hours may have their hands stamped at the Exit Gate turnstiles. Be sure to keep your ticket! Safari Park guests should keep their parking receipts to avoid having to pay twice for same-day parking.
The Zoological Society of San Diego (“ZSSD”) is committed to high standards of ethical, moral, and legal business conduct. ZSSD is further dedicated to acting in good faith with those clients or employees who raise concerns regarding incorrect financial reporting, unlawful activity, or otherwise improper conduct.
The audit committee, board, and management team at ZSSD value your input. That is why we have selected EthicsPoint to provide us with an anonymous and confidential method to hear your suggestions, concerns, or report of misconduct. The information you provide will be sent to us by EthicsPoint on a totally confidential and anonymous basis. You have our guarantee that your comments will be heard.
To lodge a formal complaint, you can either log onto the link below, or call 1-866-287-5716