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Connect with Wildlife at the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens
April 13, 2023 By CityPASS
Home to more than 2,000 exotic, endangered and rescued animals, the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens promises plenty to explore in a majestic setting located directly on the Pacific Coast. Experience a wide range of animals from amphibians, birds and mammals to invertebrates and reptiles. And, immerse yourself in the themed gardens that thrive in San Francisco's year-round mild climate.
Animals & Exhibits
The exhibits at the Zoo house more than 250 species of animals, and the gardens display both native and foreign plants.
Check the Zoo's website for full descriptions of current exhibits, including the Australian WalkAbout, Education Center, Children's Zoo, Koala Crossing, Lion House, Hearst Grizzly Gulch, Tropical Rainforest and Preserve, Penguin Island, and more.
Here's a list of some of the things you will want to see:
Amphibians: These cold-blooded vertebrates may be small, but they play an important role in nature. Meet several frog species in this exhibit, including the Amazon milk frog, named for its poisonous milky secretion that it emits when threatened.
Birds: Owls, macaws and flamingos are just a few of the fascinating bird species residing at the Zoo. Meet the Eurasian Eagle Owl, who was originally smuggled into the U.S. but now lives at the Zoo and serves as an ambassador of her species, educating local students about wildlife conservation.
Invertebrates: Some may think of these species as creepy crawlers, but in fact invertebrates are crucial components of food webs and critical for pollination, decomposition and nutrient release. See tarantulas, caterpillars, leaf insects, the velvet ant and more.
Mammals: Most people think of these stars when planning a trip to the Zoo and for good reason. Smart and fun to watch, gorillas, bears, monkeys and tigers are a short list of what you will see in the mammals exhibits. Visit The Jones Family Gorilla Preserve, a lush expanse of trees, grasses and rocky outcroppings and home to four adult females and a silverback male, where you'll learn about the Species Survival Plan for western lowland gorillas.
Reptiles: Get an up close look at creatures that might make you shriek if seen in your backyard. This exhibit showcases boa snakes, a desert tortoise, lizards and iguanas, the Komodo dragon and more.
Have you ever heard of a Swamp Gum tree?
When visiting the Zoo, be sure to seek out this well-loved tree that was planted sometime around 1925, one of the original lake-shore plantings at the Zoo. This eucalyptus tree is the largest in California, where there are only about 20 of these trees known to exist.
The mission of the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens is to connect people with wildlife, inspire caring for nature, and advance conservation action. In addition to "Working Green" efforts in place at the Zoo, the Zoo supports restoration of native habitat through its Zoo Crew volunteer program and plays a leading role in local efforts to conserve western pond turtles, mountain yellow-legged and California red-legged frogs, and the San Francisco Forktail Damselfly.
Visiting the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens
The San Francisco Zoo is located on Sloat Boulevard and the Great Highway on the Pacific Coast.
The Zoo opens at 10am and may require timed-entry reservations.
USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT TO GET TO THE ZOO
Departing from San Francisco, take the Muni L Taraval line outbound to the Zoo. Muni bus lines 23 and 18 also stop at the Zoo. Use the SFMTA Trip Planner sfmta.com/drive-park for directions.
There are two entrances to the Zoo's parking, one off of the Great Highway when driving from the East Bay and South Bay, and one off of Sloat Boulevard at 47th Avenue for those driving from the North Bay. Parking is available for purchase at the ticket windows, Carousel, or Little Puffer Train Station.
San Francisco Zoo Tickets
Visitors have a couple of options for purchasing tickets to the San Francisco Zoo including general admission, with discounted rates for San Francisco residents, retired and active military, and guests with disabilities. A second option is CityPASS® tickets, which includes 4 top attractions at a discount. If you're a frequent visitor, consider becoming a member to save on a per-visit cost. If a single visit is enough for you, you can buy tickets on the official San Francisco Zoo and Gardens website. Just note that when you buy a ticket, you'll need to choose which day you'd like to attend.
If you want to save some money on your visit and don't want to become a member of the Zoo, consider buying San Francisco CityPASS® tickets. You'll get a highly sought-after discount on the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens and several other famous attractions in the Bay Area, including Aquarium of the Bay!
To get the most out of your stay in San Francisco, we recommend finding lodging near San Francisco's top attractions like San Francisco Zoo and Gardens. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:
Explore the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens for Less With CityPASS® Tickets
You don't have to pay full price to check out San Francisco Zoo and other Bay Area attractions. With two great options to choose from, San Francisco CityPASS® or C3® tickets, you're sure to see the best. Enjoy hot spots like the Aquarium of the Bay, Blue & Gold Fleet, San Francisco Bay Cruise, The California Academy of Science and more! Check out your ticket options, plan your itinerary, and get set for a family-friendly Bay Area adventure.
Header image courtesy of San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. Photo by Marianne Hale.