Sights from the San Diego Zoo

banner san diego

Every major city has a zoo, but they’re pretty much a dime a dozen, so I typically don’t bother with them. The San Diego Zoo, however, is in a class by itself. It’s widely regarded as one of the best zoos in the country, if not the world.

The zoo is huge, with aerial trams and shuttle buses available to move visitors around. Give yourself plenty of time. I ended up spending more than four hours walking around the place and catching glimpses of some of my favorite animals, and I still didn’t see everything.

The San Diego Zoo is known for being one of only four zoos in America that houses giant pandas. These endangered animals are notoriously hard to breed in captivity, but San Diego has had more success mating pandas than any other U.S. zoo.

panda bear

Unlike some of the other animals, the pandas were very active. The little panda did a lot of running around.

panda small

Here’s my favorite animal in the world: The komodo dragon! This is one of the few creatures in the world that will sometimes eat humans if given the opportunity. They eat the entire body, bones and all, leaving no trace of life. I love their ruthless, no-nonsense attitude.

komodo dragon

The cute and cuddly koalas. Mitch Hedberg has a koala joke: “My apartment is infested with koala bears. It’s the cutest infestation ever. Way better than cockroaches. When I turn on the lights, a bunch of koala bears scatter. And I don’t want them to. I’m like, ‘Hey, hold on, fellas! Lemme hold one of you. And feed you a leaf.'”

koala in tree


Something draws me to the South American capybara, the largest rodent in the world. Look at those adorable flat noses.


Speaking of flat noses, I present to you the bearded pigs.

bearded pigs

The living desert of Madagascar provided some visual context for the environment that some of these animals are living in.

living desert

Bears! Black ones and brown ones.


brown bear

Flamingos. Lots and lots of pink flamingos.


The kids especially enjoyed the primates.



It was in the upper 50s and raining the day I visited. Poor monkey… someone get her a jacket!


Who doesn’t love the giraffes?



Pucker up!


Back to the unusual animals. This small African antelope is called a klipspringer. The sign indicated that these guys can jump ten feet in the air from a dead standstill. They jump across boulders and ledges to escape their many predators. They also mate for life, making them perhaps the most monogamous mammals in the world.

They’re really cute too. I want a pet klipspringer.


The guanaco is similar to a llama. Go ahead and chew that grass with your freaky jaw!


Say hello to the zebras.


The peacock shows off his plumage.


Back to the big boys. The polar bears in the San Diego Zoo are smaller than most polar bears, but they’re still pretty massive.

polar bears

The rhino was the one animal I felt bad for. They didn’t seem to have much room to roam. Two of them shared this tiny pool of water.


The hippo had significantly more water in his tank. He liked rubbing up against the windows where the tourists stood to watch.


Thanks to Fergie, I cannot see camels without hearing “My Humps” in my head. Look at those lovely lady lumps.


The elephants kicked up dust on themselves.


I always get excited for tigers in zoos, but they never seem to be doing anything but sleeping. Lazy cats!


What’s your favorite zoo animal?


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About the Author

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based journalist and blogger who seeks out offbeat attractions and awesome destinations around the world. He has been featured in Travel + Leisure, Connect Magazine, Matador Travel, and the Washington Post.

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  1. The Komodo Dragon looks in a very bad mood to me!! The pics are wonderful, so many cute and adorable animals there. Can really spend a whole day there!

  2. Looks like you got some great photos. I’m not a big fan of San Diego Zoo. Supposedly it’s one of the best zoos, but it depressed me last time I went and have since vowed not to go back. I just don’t think there is enough space in San Diego to have big enough enclosures for the large animals. They should close it down and move all the animals to the Safari Park. Sorry for the rant. 🙂 Glad you had fun though.

    1. I did want to check out the Safari Park, but it was too far out of town and I had no way to get there. I always support animals having more room to roam!

  3. Its always amazing to see beautiful wild animals in different habitat way far from their natural habitat. With such beautiful environment, zoos are just one step away of giving a home to many of these beautiful endangered animals as their plight is still in danger. With good animal protection and animal information to the masses, this is just one step in educating the masses how these animals are part of us as we are part of them.
    Lets Love all Animals to Save all

    1. True, it’s nice for visitors to get a chance to see animals they wouldn’t normally get to see. The San Diego Zoo is one of the best places for that.

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