Situated along the Great Highway between Lake Merced and the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Zoo is set on 100 acres of land and is home to more than 2,000 endangered, exotic, and rescued animals representing over 250 species. Famous for being the birthplace of Koko the Gorilla and home to Elly, the oldest black rhinoceros in North America for the past 43 years, the zoo features a variety of animal enclosures and exhibits, beautifully maintained gardens, a sculpture learning plaza, and many conservation and wellness programs.
Founded in 1929 as the Fleishhacker Zoo, after banker Herbert Fleishhacker, the zoo featured several exhibits with animals such as zebras, buffalo, rhesus monkeys, spider monkeys and elephants, a children’s playground, and an original carousel. Over the few decades, the Zoological Society aided the zoo with fundraising and the acquisition of rare animals and was renamed the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. Today, the Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals from over 250 species housed in several different regions.
The San Francisco Zoo features a range of outstanding exhibitions, including the South American Tropical Rainforest and Aviary with a realistic rainforest ecosystem teeming with exotic plants and colorful birds, a 15-foot-long green anaconda, a charming two-toed sloth and a significant herpetological collection.
The Gorilla Preserve is home to four females, a silverback male, and Hasani and features a wall of viewing windows that allow visitors to feel as if they are in the wild with the gorillas. The Grizzly Gulch features a 20,000-gallon pool with a waterfall and a sunny meadow which several grizzly bears call home, and the Lemur Forest is a forested enclosure for a variety of species of these active and engaging primates.
The Fisher Family Children's Zoo is a six-acre park-within-a-park that offers an educational experience for children to enjoy with farm animals, an insect zoo, a meerkat and a prairie dog exhibit, nature trails and a Red Panda.
Things to do at the Zoo
Interesting and exciting activities at the zoo include watching the grizzly bears being fed, taking a ride on the Little Puffer train and the Dentzel carousel, interacting with animals along the nature trail, petting goats, sheep, and pigs at the Family Farm, and going behind the scenes on a Wild Walk. Visitors can watch Magellanic penguins being hand fed by animal keepers, and get up close to a giraffe during the Keeper Talks. Children of all ages can burn energy at the Elinor Friend Playground and look for free-flying birds inside the South American Tropical Rainforest & Aviary.
The San Francisco Zoo offers a variety of educational and community outreach programsfor visitors of all ages, including children’s programs for all ages, family and adult programs, zoo camp and volunteer programs. Children’s Programs include Little Learners, Animal Adventures, Young Zoologists, Conservation Club, Scout Groups, and Teens. Adult and family programs include Wild Walks, Scavenger Hunts, Bike About, Overnights at the Zoo, Twilight Tours, Conservation Speaker Series, and Senior Strolls.
Keeper Talks and feedings include Grizzly Bear Feeding, Hatchery Tours, Barnyard Stampedes, sea lion feeding at the Fred Carroll Family Sea Lion Pool, Chimpanzee Talk, and Penguin Feeding at Penguin Island. Other encounters and attractions range from Red Ivory at the Primate Discovery Center, Storytime Station, Animal Encounters at the Animal Resource Center, and Wild Walks departing from the Entry Village every two hours.
The San Francisco Zoo takes part in several conservation and animal protection programs, including Animal Wellness, Leading Local Conservation Efforts, Restoring Native Habitat, Working Green, Conservation Community, and the Wildlife Trafficking Enforcement Act.
The San Francisco Zoo is located at the junction of Sloat Boulevard and Great Highway and is open to the public daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. There are several cafés on the grounds of the zoo, including the Café Playfield, the Leaping Lemur Café, and the Terrace Café (seasonal).
Sloat Blvd & Great Hwy, San Francisco, CA 94132, Phone: 415-753-7080