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Edited by IfOnly
A Wild Time: San Francisco Zoo and Gardens

Where can you eat breakfast with a grizzly bear, snack with a giraffe, and see lemurs in the trees? At the San Francisco Zoo!


The zoo is home to some rare endangered species, including a black rhinos and Mexican Gray Wolves. 2018 was an exciting year for the zoo, announcing the birth of 2 baby snow leopards and a reindeer at Christmas!


The San Francisco Zoo and gardens have been delighting visitors for nearly 100 years, taking an active role in Wildlife education and conservation. The zoo, with its earliest exhibits from the 1930s, featured some of the first spacious, moated enclosures for monkeys, lions, elephants, and bears, making them among the earliest exhibits to house animals without bars.  The zoo was heavily renovated over 6 years beginning in 1994, and visitors can still get up close with the conservation efforts.


These conservation efforts are ongoing and reach even beyond the gates of the zoo, playing an active role in the recovery of the Western Pond Turtle with Sonoma State University and the Oakland Zoo, as well as working with Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park to preserve two species of frogs that face a declining population.



Here are 5 things you won’t want to miss when visiting the zoo!


  • Penguin Island:

    Catch these zippy guys at feeding time where the keeper, who knows them each by name, feeds them one fish at a time and gives a little talk.


Visit the Family Farm:

This children’s zoo has farmyard animals (including llamas!)  you and your little ones can touch, as well as toy tractors for riding.


Wave at the gorillas:

The San Francisco Zoo has a renowned Gorilla habitat that was the birthplace of the famous Koko the Gorilla. While Koko no longer resides at the zoo, you can see other happy gorillas interact.


Ride the Puffer Train:

This historic miniature steam train is one of only a few like it left in the world. An iconic part of the zoo experience since its early days, loop around, hear the story, and experience a true little engine that could.


Race on the historic Denztel carousel:

This lavish, exquisitely-carved 1920s carousel is one of only 14 in the world and was one of the zoo’s first attractions. The carousel has 2 chariots and over 50 different animals, which include not only horses, but giraffes, ostriches, tigers, and reindeer.


At the time of writing, Admission for adults (15-64) is $22, for seniors (65 and over) $18, for children (4-14) $16, and for 3 and under free. Discounted admission available for San Francisco residents.


San Francisco Zoo Hours: Open daily, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


If you’d like a trip to the zoo you’ll remember for a lifetime, try one of these unforgettable experiences. 

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