The San Francisco Zoo began in the early 1800's as Woodwards' Gardens in the Mission District as a 4-acre amusement park with a small 'zoo'. The park closed in 1890 when the property was divided into buildable parcels.
Originally called Fleishhacker Zoo after it's founder, San Francisco Parks Commission president and banker, Herbert Fleishhacker, the 100-acre San Francisco Zoo had its beginnings in 1929 when it finally set down roots it's current location. The inaugural exhibits, including Monkey Island, Lion House, Elephant House, and aviary and bear grottos, cost $3.5 million and were the first exhibits in the United States to use moats instead of bars to secure the animals. Most of the initial inhabitants were transferred from Golden Gate Park.
Located between Lake Merced and the Pacific Ocean along the Great Highway, San Francisco Zoo has undergone tremendous growth and renovation over the past 88 years. The creation of the San Francisco Zoological Society played a vital role in the zoo's fundraising as well as creation of a master plan and membership. Open 365 days a year, the zoo is currently home to over 2,000 endangered, exotic and rescued animals. The zoo also includes multiple gardens that are bursting with plants from all over the globe.
The grounds are divided into regions, including the African Region, Cat Kingdom, South America, Outback Trail, Primate Discovery Center, and the Exploration Zone. Each allows visitors to experience animals, insects, and birds in beautiful exhibits, all with a focus on conservationism, animal enrichment, state-of-the-art animal care and wellness, and enhancement of public viewing and overall safety.
Each day, there are Keeper Talks & Feeding, providing visitors an up close and personal insight into how the animals are cared for. Keeper Talks occur in most of the exhibits but two of the most popular and exciting are the penguin and grizzly bear feedings.
Animal Encounters and Wild Walks are two other opportunities to enhance your zoo experience. The Koret Animal Resource Center is a working facility that allows visitors to see 'behind the scenes' and learning in detail about each animal and it's unique care. Wild Walks are guided adventures that entail educational animal encounters. Three different walks are available, the Adventure Walk, Explorer Walk and Wild Encounter Walk.
The zoo also has a carousel, miniature steam train and playground as well as an on-site cafe perfect for grabbing lunch or a snack.
The San Francisco Zoo is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Tickets range from $20 for adults to $14 for kids 4-14 years. Zoo Members are free. On-site parking is $10-$12.
San Francisco Zoo
Sloat Blvd at the Great Highway, San Francisco