Located in Escondido, California, this zoo is 40 minutes away from the San Diego Zoo in the heart of San Diego. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, previously known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park, is 1,800 acres huge and offers visitors to see animals in a more natural environment than a regular zoo does.
The 13 sections of the park includes:
Safari Base Camp- meerkat, a variety of rare and unique birds
Nairobi Village- Rodrigues fruit bat, red river hog, a watering hole with pelicans, storks, and many other migratory birds
Gorilla Forest- gorillas, a tropical rain forest, a butterfly jungle (every Spring)
African Woods- okapis (an extremely rare-to-see animal that is the only living relative to giraffes), secretary birds (another very unique creature!)
The Grove- a garden full of herbs that is tended by volunteers
African Outpost- cheetahs, warthogs *They show the (included with price) cheetah run here at the African Outpost, daily at 3:30pm
Lion Camp- African lions
Elephant Valley- African elephants
Tiger Territory- Sumatran tigers (this is a critically endangered species, with only 400 left remaining in the wild)
Condor Ridge- California condors (the highly respected huge scavengers!), Bighorn sheep
World Garden- Conifer forests, a section of Southern California’s native plant species, a whole section of magnificently unique trees
Asian Savanna- Przewalski’s horse (a pony/zebra-looking horse that is the closest living relative to the domestic horse), Arabian oryx (they have been extinct in the wild since the 1960s, but many zoos are helping them come back!)
African Plain– Uganda giraffe, crowned crane, Grevy’s zebra (the largest kind of zebra!), white rhinos (only 8 left in the world!)
It’s open every day from 9am to 5pm.
The park is located on a hill, or rather lots of hills, so if you’re pushing a stroller or you have bad knees, it can get tiring (and painful) really quickly. They do have a great tram system that lets you roll through certain sections of the park and come and go as you please. Unlike the San Diego Zoo, it focuses mainly on African animals, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit pricey at $44 a person ($34 for children 3-11), but for the size, it makes it more reasonable. The price also includes the tram ride for you and your family to use as often as you want! For $114 (or $70 if you have any kind of ticket to the park already), there is a ¾ mile zipline that you can take to see a good bit of the zoo at such great heights. There are also many other extra paid options, such as the 10 minute long 400 feet balloon ride ($20 per guest) and the Caravan Safari (around $100, depending on which safari). The Caravan Safari is a very unique experience where you get to go on the animal’ turf and feed them and touch them (mainly giraffes, possibly rhinos), from a little cart that rides you around for over 2 hours.
What I find amazing is that this zoo has one of the most successful breeding programs in the world, and some of their safari sections allow their animals to freely come and go as they please, such as the area in the Nairobi village for migratory birds.
Some examples of why this park is amazing:
-The elephants in the Elephant Valley were rescued from Swaziland in 2003 as they were scheduled to be killed because of overpopulation.
-When baby condors are hatched, they are raised by an adult condor puppet in order for them to not get used to humans so they can eventually get put back into the wild.
-Many of the extinct Arabian oryx species that have been born in the Safari Park have been brought back to Oman and Jordan to be reintroduced in their native range.
Take a walk on the wild side and visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park!
If you want to stay for the night. You can see here.
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