Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens: 10 Great Things to See

Updated On: July 18, 2023

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The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a vibrant sanctuary within the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles, California. It is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, nature lovers, and those seeking a serene escape from the city’s urban landscape.

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The zoo covers 133 acres.

By understanding the multifaceted role of the zoo, visitors can appreciate its profound impact on the community and the natural world and become inspired to protect and cherish the wonders of our planet.

To help you get the most out of a visit to the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, we’ve explored its history, attractions, and significant contributions to conservation and the surrounding area.

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The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is perfect for adults and children alike.


The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located in the city of Los Angeles, California, in the northeastern region of Griffith Park. Covering an expansive area of 133 acres, the zoo is situated in a picturesque location surrounded by rolling hills and lush greenery.

Its prime location within the city provides visitors and tourists with convenient access to an urban oasis, offering a serene escape from the bustling city life nearby.

Other Nearby Attractions

In addition to its captivating natural setting, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is close to several notable landmarks and attractions.

Just a short distance away from the zoo lies the iconic Griffith Observatory, perched atop the southern slope of Mount Hollywood. This world-renowned observatory offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and the night sky, complementing the zoo’s focus on education and appreciation of the natural world.

The zoo is also conveniently located near the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, a historic carousel beloved by both locals and visitors. Families often combine a visit to the zoo with a ride on the carousel, creating a delightful day of exploration and entertainment.

Additionally, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is within close proximity to the Autry Museum of the American West. It is a cultural institution dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history, art, and diverse cultures of the American West.

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The famous Griffith Observatory is located near the zoo.

The world-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame is just a short drive away from the zoo. This renowned stretch of Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive features over 2,600 stars embedded in the sidewalks, honouring the achievements of notable individuals from the entertainment industry.



The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens has a rich history that dates back to its establishment in 1966. The idea for a zoo in Los Angeles began to take shape in the late 1950s, driven by the growing interest in wildlife conservation and public education.

With the support of local community leaders and wildlife enthusiasts, the Los Angeles Zoo officially opened on November 28, 1966, as a municipal zoo operated by the City of Los Angeles.

Key Milestones

Over the years, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens has witnessed several key milestones and developments that have shaped its evolution. In the early years, the zoo focused on expanding its animal exhibits and introducing new species to enhance its collection.

The opening of the Elephants of Asia exhibit in 2010 provided a state-of-the-art habitat for the zoo’s Asian elephants. Additionally, the Rainforest of the Americas exhibit opened in 2014, showcasing the diverse wildlife found in Central and South American rainforests.

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The zoo became a certified botanical garden in 2002.

Another significant development was the establishment of the Botanical Gardens within the zoo grounds. This addition enhanced the visitor experience by offering a serene and educational environment showcasing a wide variety of plant species.

The Botanical Gardens have since become an integral part of the zoo, contributing to its mission of conservation, education, and horticultural excellence.

Challenges Faced by the Zoo

Like many institutions, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens has faced its share of challenges and controversies throughout its history.

One notable challenge has been the need for continuous funding to support the care and well-being of the animals and maintain the facilities. The zoo has relied on a combination of public funding, private donations, and revenue generated from visitor admissions to meet its financial needs.

Controversies have also emerged from time to time. In the early 2000s, the zoo faced criticism and legal challenges regarding the welfare of some of its animals. These concerns prompted the zoo to reevaluate its animal care practices and make significant improvements to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare.

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California Sea Lions are part of the Sea Life Cliffs exhibit.

Additionally, the zoo has been proactive in addressing environmental and conservation issues. It has made efforts to reduce its ecological footprint and promote sustainability through initiatives such as water conservation, recycling, and using renewable energy sources.

Despite these challenges, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens has persevered and continued to evolve, adapting to changing times and striving to provide an exceptional experience for visitors while upholding its commitment to wildlife conservation and education.


Animal Exhibits

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is renowned for its diverse and captivating animal exhibits. Visitors can explore various habitats representing different regions of the world, providing an immersive experience in wildlife conservation and education.

From the majestic African savannah to the lush rainforests of South America, the zoo offers a range of animal exhibits that showcase a remarkable array of species. These exhibits include habitats for big cats, primates, elephants, birds, reptiles, and many other fascinating creatures from around the globe.

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California Condors are critically endangered.

Notable Species

The zoo is home to numerous notable animals and species that capture the imagination of visitors. Among the iconic animals found at the Los Angeles Zoo are the critically endangered California condors, which are part of a dedicated conservation program.

Visitors can witness the grandeur of Asian elephants in the Elephants of Asia exhibit, observing their social interactions and learning about their conservation needs. The zoo also houses a variety of primates, including western lowland gorillas, orangutans, and lemurs.

Additionally, the zoo takes pride in preserving and protecting endangered species. Visitors can encounter the highly endangered Sumatran tigers, which are part of the zoo’s conservation efforts to save this magnificent species from extinction.

The zoo also features rare and fascinating animals such as the Komodo dragon, snow leopard, and the distinctive okapi, providing visitors with unique opportunities to appreciate the wonders of the animal kingdom.

Botanical Gardens and Plant Collections

Complementing the animal exhibits, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens showcases an impressive collection of plant species within its botanical gardens. These gardens serve as an educational resource, providing visitors with a glimpse into the diversity and beauty of the plant world.

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The botanical gardens feature local species of cacti.

The gardens feature a wide range of native and exotic plants, including vibrant flowers, towering trees, and unique cacti and succulents. Visitors can explore themed areas, such as the Tropical Forest, the Desert Garden, and the Subtropical Garden, admiring the adaptations and ecological roles of different plant species.

One of the unique and popular attractions at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles) exhibit. This state-of-the-art facility showcases a remarkable variety of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates, highlighting their important roles in ecosystems and their unique adaptations.

Visitors can marvel at venomous snakes, colourful frogs, intriguing insects, and other captivating creatures. The exhibit provides a valuable opportunity for education and conservation, promoting awareness about the often misunderstood and underappreciated world of reptiles and amphibians.

Another popular attraction is the World of Birds show, where visitors can witness the grace and beauty of various bird species in an engaging and interactive presentation. The show highlights the incredible diversity of birds and educates visitors about their natural behaviours, habitats, and conservation needs.

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Interactive shows and experiences are popular at the zoo.

Tourists can also enjoy the fascinating underwater world at the Sea Life Cliffs exhibit, which features playful seals and sea lions, providing insights into marine life and the importance of ocean conservation.

Events and Programs

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens offers a wide range of events and programs that enhance the visitor experience and promote education and conservation. These events and programs cater to visitors of all ages, providing opportunities to engage with the natural world and learn about wildlife and environmental conservation.

From daily animal feedings and keeper talks to seasonal festivals and interactive exhibits, the zoo ensures there is always something exciting for visitors to enjoy.

Educational Initiatives

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens places a strong emphasis on education and offers various educational programs and initiatives. These programs aim to inspire curiosity, promote environmental awareness, and provide a deeper understanding of wildlife conservation.

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The Elephants of Asia exhibit opened in 2010.

The zoo’s education department provides field trips and school programs that align with educational standards, allowing students to explore the zoo’s exhibits while engaging in hands-on learning activities.

Additionally, the zoo offers a variety of workshops, camps, and classes for children and adults, covering topics such as animal behaviour, conservation, and horticulture.

Seasonal Exhibits & Festivals

Special events are a highlight at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, offering unique and immersive experiences for visitors throughout the year. The zoo organises seasonal exhibits and festivals, such as the Boo at the Zoo during Halloween, where visitors can enjoy trick-or-treating, costume contests, and themed entertainment.

Another popular event is the L.A. Zoo Lights, a dazzling light display that transforms the zoo into a magical winter wonderland during the holiday season. Visitors can stroll through illuminated pathways, enjoy live performances, and partake in festive activities.

Additionally, the zoo hosts cultural festivals that celebrate the diverse communities of Los Angeles. These events feature traditional music, dance, art, and cuisine. Such events include the Lunar New Year celebration, Latin American Heritage Month, and African American History Month.

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The L.A. Zoo Lights festival brings holiday cheer to the zoo.


Conservation & Research

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens actively engages in conservation and research programs to contribute to wildlife preservation and scientific understanding.

The zoo participates in numerous species survival plans, which are cooperative breeding and management programs aimed at maintaining genetically diverse and healthy populations of endangered species.

Through these programs, the zoo plays a vital role in the protection and recovery of endangered species both locally and globally.

The zoo collaborates with conservation organisations and conducts research to advance knowledge in the fields of animal behaviour, veterinary medicine, and habitat preservation. By studying the behaviours and needs of the animals in their care, the zoo contributes to scientific research and helps inform conservation strategies.

The zoo also promotes conservation efforts through public outreach and awareness campaigns, inspiring California locals and tourists to take action.

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The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is known for its wide variety of exhibits.

Education & Outreach

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is dedicated to education and outreach. The zoo’s programs provide visitors with valuable opportunities to learn about wildlife, conservation, and the importance of environmental stewardship.

By fostering a deeper understanding of the natural world, the zoo aims to inspire individuals to make informed choices and take action to protect biodiversity. The zoo’s educational efforts include programs that reach schools, community organisations, and events throughout the Los Angeles area.

Scientific Research

The Los Angeles Zoo contributes to scientific research and the understanding of animal behaviour through its commitment to ongoing studies and collaborations with researchers. The zoo generates valuable data and insights by closely observing and studying the behaviour, health, and well-being of the animals in its care.

These studies can contribute to the broader scientific community’s understanding of animal behaviour, welfare, and conservation. Furthermore, the zoo actively collaborates with academic institutions and research organisations to conduct studies, share findings, and contribute to the field’s collective knowledge.

The zoo promotes scientific literacy and supports evidence-based conservation efforts by bridging the gap between scientific research and public understanding.

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The zoo inspires visitors to make positive changes for the environment and conservation of animals.

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a Wonderful Attraction

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a remarkable institution that combines the wonders of wildlife and the beauty of botanical collections. With its prime location within Los Angeles and proximity to other notable landmarks, the zoo offers a serene escape within the bustling city.

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens has contributed greatly to wildlife conservation, educational outreach, and scientific research. It serves as a testament to the importance of preserving biodiversity, promoting environmental awareness, and fostering a deep appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

By visiting the zoo, guests have the opportunity to witness the magnificence of animals and plants and be inspired to take action and make a positive impact on our planet. The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens truly stands as a symbol of our interconnectedness with nature and our responsibility to protect and cherish it for future generations.

If you’re interested in California’s best zoos, check out our guide on the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

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