5 April, 2021
San Diego Zoo is more than one hundred years old and boasts more than 12,000 animals consisting of 600 different species. It is run as a non-profit conservation organization and that conservation ethos lies at the heart of all that they do.
Set in Balboa Park, it is less than a twenty-minute drive from the city to get there. The zoo covers over one hundred acres. When it opened in 1916 it entered uncharted territory by becoming the first zoo to keep animals in open air, free-roaming, exhibits. Today it is renowned for its breeding program which has a particular focus on endangered species such as tree kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, and of course, the iconic panda.
This is a visit that you will be hard-pushed to complete in under four hours. Even then, you will just have scratched the surface of all that is on offer. Drop off your bags at a rental locker near San Diego Zoo so that you are able to make the most of this adventure unencumbered.
Although you are allowed small backpacks and coolers, there are no locker facilities in the zoo itself, so you will need to carry whatever you take in. On a visit that will, by its very nature, require you to keep moving, traveling light is probably your wisest move.
There are some small lockers to be rented in the zoo, but they are geared more towards small valuables than bags or backpacks. Fortunately, there are baggage storage facilities within easy reach, and this might make your day a whole lot more enjoyable.
You are welcome to bring your own food or picnic with you. This includes water and beverages, but only non-alcoholic ones. Any drinks must be in non-glass containers, and it is worth mentioning that disposable straws and lids are not permitted. The problem is that the zoo authorities only allow small coolers no larger than a six-pack, and once you have enjoyed your snack, you are left having to carry whatever you transported it in.
If having to lug a cooler with you all day doesn't appeal to you, you will be pleased to learn on-site food concessions and restaurants abound. There is something for everyone here, including vegans, vegetarians, and of course the kids. There are even locally brewed draft beers on sale.
For starters, if you are planning on shooting photos or videos for commercial purposes, this will not be permitted. If you just want to take photos as souvenirs of your visit, however, then you are more than welcome. The only restrictions to this are that tripods must fit in a backpack and drones may not be used at all.
As with any organization hosting large numbers of public visitors each day, there are rules in place, and the San Diego Zoo is no exception. Here are some of the more important ones.
Smoking, including e-cigarettes and Vapes, is banned throughout the zoo grounds. If you are a smoker, the good news is that you can have your hand stamped, leave the property for your nicotine fix, and then enter again.
No alcohol, drugs, or glass containers may be brought in.
No pets are allowed and there are no kennels available.
No balls, frisbees, skipping ropes, or yo-yos.
No remote-controlled toys.
Finally, this is one you may want to remember; no cremated remains can be brought into the park, even if they are being kept in a container of some kind.
This is a world-class zoo. It certainly goes the extra mile in that you are able to see rare animals in open-air environments, and you will be supporting this organization's renowned conservation efforts when doing so. There is so much to see and do that you will need to be selective as to what your priorities are. It is also a good idea to get there early.
There is free parking at the zoo and public transport access is easy. The Rapid 215 and Route 7 both offer stops at the zoo itself.
With no baggage-sized lockers available on-site, you are well-advised to find a luggage locker facility nearby. Fortunately, there are many options to choose from and it is probably wise to opt for one that allows online booking so that you can be assured of finding an available locker when you get there.