San Diego Zoo Safari Park: 10 Amazing Exhibits & Attractions

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Updated On: November 09, 2023 by   Courtney AugelloCourtney Augello

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California is a captivating wildlife park that offers an extraordinary experience for animal enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. With its sprawling acres of natural habitats, the park has something for everyone.

From its remarkable history to its diverse exhibits and exciting attractions, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park stands as a beacon of wildlife preservation and is a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts and animal lovers. 

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There are many different animals on display at the zoo.

With over 3000 animals, there are tons of things to see and do at the park. To help you plan the best trip to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, we’ve explored the history of the zoo, its unique exhibits, and exciting attractions.

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The San Diego Zoo Safari Park covers 1,800 acres.


The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is located in the northeastern part of San Diego County, California, USA. Situated in the San Pasqual Valley near the city of Escondido, the park covers an expansive area of approximately 1,800 acres.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of the largest and most expansive wildlife parks in the world. Its vast size allows for the creation of diverse natural habitats that closely resemble the animals’ native environments, allowing the animals to roam freely and engage in natural behaviours.

The park’s climate plays a significant role in shaping the wildlife and visitor experience. The mild winters allow the animals to thrive in comfortable conditions, while the warm summers provide an optimal environment for many species. 

The park’s natural setting comprises a variety of habitats, including grasslands, savannahs, woodlands, and dense jungles. It carefully replicates the ecosystems found in different parts of the world, allowing for the housing and conservation of a wide range of animal species.

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Most families spend 5 hours at the park.

How Long to Spend at the Zoo

On average, visitors tend to spend anywhere from four to six hours exploring the park. This duration allows for a leisurely visit, giving visitors ample time to enjoy the exhibits, engage in interactive experiences, and attend animal presentations.

Some visitors may spend more time to thoroughly explore every exhibit and take advantage of all the park has to offer. In contrast, others may opt for a shorter visit focused on specific areas or attractions.


The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, originally known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park, was established in 1972 as an extension of the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. The park was created with the purpose of providing larger and more natural habitats for animals.

The visionaries behind the San Diego Zoo Safari Park were Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth, founder of the San Diego Zoo, and Dr. Charles Schroeder, the zoo’s director at the time. They recognised the need for additional space to accommodate larger animals and promote their conservation.

Their vision was to create a park that would focus on breeding endangered species and providing them with spacious, naturalistic habitats. The founders aimed to offer visitors an opportunity to observe wildlife up close and promote appreciation for the importance of wildlife conservation.

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The San Diego Zoo Safari Park opened in 1972.

Over the years, the park expanded its acreage and developed new exhibits and habitats to accommodate a growing collection of animal species. Notable expansions include the African Plains exhibit, the Tiger Trail, and the Australian Outback exhibit.

The park has introduced various new species to its collection over time, providing visitors with the opportunity to observe a diverse array of wildlife. These introductions have included species such as cheetahs, giraffes, rhinos, and gorillas.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has actively collaborated with other zoos, conservation and research institutions worldwide to support wildlife conservation efforts. This includes participation in breeding programs, scientific research, and public awareness campaigns.

The park has achieved notable success in breeding endangered species, contributing to the preservation of vulnerable populations. This includes the successful breeding of California condors, which played a crucial role in saving the species from extinction.


The San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers a range of immersive exhibits that allow visitors to explore diverse ecosystems and animal species. Each exhibit is designed to provide naturalistic habitats for the animals and educate visitors about the importance of wildlife conservation.

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The zoo has large, naturalistic enclosures.

African Plains

The African Plains exhibit at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park replicates the expansive grasslands of Africa, home to iconic species such as elephants, giraffes, rhinoceroses, and antelopes.

Visitors can witness herds of majestic animals roaming freely across vast savannahs. The exhibit offers the unique opportunity to observe the complex social interactions and behaviours of African wildlife in a natural setting.

Tiger Trail

The Tiger Trail exhibit focuses on the conservation of endangered tiger species. Visitors can witness the grace and power of these magnificent big cats as they explore their lush habitats.

The exhibit showcases not only tigers but also other Asian species, such as Asian small-clawed otters and fishing cats. Through the Tiger Trail, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park raises awareness about the threats facing tigers in the wild and promotes efforts to protect their habitats.

Condor Ridge

The Condor Ridge exhibit is dedicated to the California condor, one of the world’s most endangered bird species. Visitors can observe these impressive birds up close as they soar through the sky and interact within their natural habitat.

The exhibit plays a critical role in the California condor recovery program, which aims to increase the population of these birds through captive breeding and reintroduction efforts. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s participation in this program has been instrumental in the successful recovery of the California condor population.

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Condors are one of the world’s most endangered bird species.

Hidden Jungle

The Hidden Jungle exhibit at the zoo transports visitors into the heart of a lush and vibrant rainforest environment. It showcases the incredible biodiversity found in tropical regions, featuring species such as monkeys, sloths, toucans, and colourful tropical birds.

At this exhibit, tourists can experience the sights and sounds of the jungle, as well as learn about the complex interconnections between plants, animals, and their habitats.

Australian Outback

The Australian Outback exhibit provides a glimpse into the distinctive ecosystems of Australia. Visitors can encounter iconic Australian wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, and emus.

The exhibit showcases the unique adaptations of these animals to survive in the arid landscapes of the Outback. It also highlights the conservation challenges facing Australian species and the importance of preserving their habitats.


The San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers a range of attractions and activities that enhance the visitor experience. These attractions cater to all ages and interests, making the park an exciting destination for families, animal enthusiasts, and adventure seekers alike.

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Kilima Point is a very picturesque vista.

Kilima Point

Kilima Point is a scenic overlook in the park. It offers breathtaking panoramic views of the park’s expansive landscapes, allowing visitors to appreciate the vastness of the habitats and observe animals in their natural surroundings. 

Kilima Point provides an excellent vantage point to spot herds of African wildlife and take in the beauty of the surrounding scenery.

Nairobi Village

Nairobi Village is a cultural and educational centre situated within the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It offers visitors a glimpse into African village life, showcasing traditional architecture, art, and cultural artefacts.

Visitors can learn about African customs, music, and dance through interactive exhibits and performances. Nairobi Village serves as a hub for educational programs, providing insights into African culture and promoting cross-cultural understanding.

Safari Tram

The Safari Tram is a popular attraction at the zoo. It takes visitors on a guided tour through the expansive habitats. The open-air tram allows guests to get up close to a variety of animals.

On the tour, knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights into their behaviour, conservation efforts, and the park’s mission. The Safari Tram provides an immersive experience, allowing visitors to observe wildlife in a safe and comfortable manner.

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The bus tour takes guests through different exhibits.

Cheetah Run

The Cheetah Run is a thrilling event that takes place at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The event provides guests with the unique opportunity to witness the incredible speed and agility of cheetahs. 

During the event, cheetahs sprint at high speeds in a straight line, reaching impressive velocities. Visitors can witness this impressive display of natural athleticism and learn about the cheetah’s hunting strategies and adaptations.

Balloon Safari

The Balloon Safari is a tethered hot-air balloon ride available at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It provides visitors with a one-of-a-kind experience to soar above the park and enjoy aerial views of the expansive landscapes and animal habitats. 

The Balloon Safari offers a unique perspective, allowing guests to appreciate the vastness and beauty of the park from above.

Visitor Experience and Education

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers visitors a unique and immersive experience that allows them to connect with wildlife and learn about conservation. The park’s spacious and naturalistic habitats provide a more authentic and up-close encounter with animals compared to traditional zoos.

Visitors can observe animals in their natural behaviours, such as feeding, playing, and interacting with each other, creating memorable and educational experiences.

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The Balloon Safari lets guests see the zoo from above.

Educational Programs

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is committed to educating visitors about the importance of wildlife conservation. It offers a variety of educational programs and exhibits designed to promote conservation awareness.

These programs include animal presentations and interactive exhibits that provide insights into the challenges facing wildlife and the actions individuals can take to protect biodiversity.

Interactive Experiences

The park provides numerous interactive and hands-on experiences to engage visitors of all ages. For example, visitors can participate in animal encounters where they have the opportunity to interact with and learn about specific species.

The park also offers feeding experiences where guests feed certain animals, such as giraffes or lorikeets, providing an up-close and personal encounter. These interactive experiences foster a deeper connection with wildlife and create memorable learning opportunities.

Special & Seasonal Events

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park organises a range of special events and seasonal activities throughout the year. These events often align with conservation themes and provide unique opportunities for visitors to engage with the park’s mission.

Examples of special events include wildlife conservation festivals, themed exhibitions, and workshops. Additionally, the park offers seasonal activities during holidays, such as Halloween and Christmas, providing festive and educational experiences for visitors.

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The zoo hosts many seasonal events.

Visitor Amenities

To enhance the visitor experience, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers a range of amenities.

There are several dining options available throughout the park, offering a variety of cuisines and dining experiences. Visitors can choose from restaurants, cafes, and snack stands, ensuring they have options to suit their preferences.

The park also features souvenir shops where visitors can purchase wildlife-themed merchandise, educational materials, and gifts, allowing them to bring a piece of their experience home.


The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has been at the forefront of wildlife preservation and conservation efforts. The park’s focus on breeding endangered species within spacious habitats has contributed significantly to global conservation initiatives.

Additionally, the park’s research initiatives have played a crucial role in advancing scientific knowledge of animal behaviour, ecology, and conservation biology. By actively engaging in research and sharing their findings, the park has contributed valuable insights to the field of wildlife conservation.

Furthermore, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park actively engages in public education and outreach programs to raise awareness about the importance of conservation. Through interactive exhibits, programs, and public events, the park inspires visitors to take action.

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The park contributes a lot to conservation efforts.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a Fascinating Attraction

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has established itself as a prominent wildlife park renowned for its rich history, diverse exhibits, and captivating attractions. The park’s vast size and natural setting create immersive habitats that closely resemble those found in the wild.

Through its breeding programs, research initiatives, and public outreach, the zoo actively contributes to the preservation of endangered species and their habitats. Its research and preservation of endangered animals have made a large impact on the field.

The impact of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on its visitors is profound. By engaging with interactive exhibits, participating in hands-on experiences, and attending special events, visitors are inspired to take action in preserving endangered species and habitats.

If you’re visiting San Diego, check out La Jolla: the Great Scenic Town.

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