Frequently Asked Questions - General

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The Zoo, located adjacent to downtown San Diego in Balboa Park, is 100 acres in size. It is well known for its lush, naturalistic habitats and unique animal encounters and is home to more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals representing approximately 660 species and subspecies and a prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 plants. It is viewed in several ways, first and foremost by walking along pathways, into aviaries, and through bioclimatic zones. There is a 35-minute Guided Bus Tour that gives a good overview of the Zoo, along with an Express Bus that stops at several locations to assist guests in accessing different areas. We suggest taking the Guided Bus Tour upon your arrival to acquaint yourself with the various areas where you would like to spend additional time. The Zoo is a unique walking experience that exhibits animals in the most natural way possible, adding shows and animal presentations throughout the day for additional enjoyment. We recommend a minimum visit time of at least three to four hours.

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The Zoo is located adjacent to downtown’s Balboa Park.

San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Drive
San Diego CA 92101
619-231-1515

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Further directions can be found here for the Zoo, and here for the Safari Park.

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The Safari Park is located approximately 35 miles northeast of the Zoo, in Escondido, California. It's an adventurer’s safari paradise in Southern California! The 1,800-acre Safari Park is home to more than 2,600 animals representing more than 300 species, many living in wide, open field enclosures. The Park showcases herd-style animals from the plains and savannas of Africa and Asia that normally roam together in the wild, such as rhinos, giraffes, and antelope. It is a unique walking experience that exhibits animals in the most natural way possible, adding shows and animal presentations throughout the day for additional enjoyment. Take one of our thrilling array of tours and create memories of adventure, all while benefiting the conservation of species here and in more than 22 countries around the globe. We recommend a minimum visit time of at least four hours.

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No.  The Safari Park is and always has been a walk-through sanctuary in which members and guests can purchase optional guided Safari tours to enhance their visits and get closer to animals.  Please see our Special Experiences on the Experiences page for more information about these exciting tours and programs!

Occasionally, nostalgic visitors confuse the Safari Park with an unaffiliated, drive-through animal attraction bearing a similar name that was once located 77 miles north of the Safari Park in the Irvine/Laguna Hills area.  That attraction operated from 1970 – 1984.  The site was then repurposed and spent 25 years as a water park before becoming what is now a community of upscale apartment homes.

 

 

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The Safari Park is located approximately 35 miles northeast of the San Diego Zoo.

San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Road
Escondido CA 92027
760-747-8702

   View San Diego Zoo & Safari Park in a larger map

Further directions can be found here for the Zoo, and here for the Safari Park.

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The Zoo and Safari Park are approximately 35 miles apart from each other.  The drive time between the two parks is about 45 minutes to one hour, depending on traffic and other factors.  The Zoo is located in Balboa Park, just north of downtown San Diego, at 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA  92108.  The Safari Park is located at 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, California 92027.

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It's possible, but we don't recommend it. 

Although one can easily enjoy a full day or more at both parks, to visitors with limited time we recommend a minimum of three to four hours to see some of the Zoo and a minimum of four to six hours to experience a portion of the Safari Park. 

The Zoo and Safari Park are approximately 35 miles apart from each other.  The drive time between the two parks is about 45 minutes to one hour, depending on traffic and other factors.  The Zoo is located in Balboa Park, just north of downtown San Diego, at 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA  92108.  The Safari Park is located at 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, California 92027, a remote area of Escondido.  Following the directions on our website, a well-traveled, two-lane country road comprises approximately five of the last six miles leading to the Safari Park.  Occasional traffic delays may occur along this road on peak attendance days (holidays; weekends during spring break, summer and December).

Well known for its 100 acres of lush, naturalistic habitats and unique animal encounters, the San Diego Zoo is home to more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals (including pandas, koalas, tigers, polar bears, and more) representing approximately 660 species and subspecies and a prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 plants.

The 1,800–acre Safari Park is home to more than 3,000 animals representing over 300 species, many living in open field habitats. In addition, the Park has a renowned botanical collection with more than 1.7 million plants. 

Since there is so much to see and experience at our parks, and to get the most from an unhurried visit, we recommend planning a multi-day visit.  There are several multi-day ticket options that allow you to enjoy both parks at a relaxed pace! 

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Hours vary throughout the year. For current San Diego Zoo hours, click here. For San Diego Zoo Safari Park hours, click here.

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Our facilities are open every day of the year, including all holidays, rain or shine!

Depending on the extent of rain, some animals (primates, specifically) may choose to go into their off-exhibit bedroom areas, although many animals seem unaffected by rain.

Animals may be taken off exhibit for a variety of reasons including environmental conditions, health issues, and behavioral concerns. In addition, many of our exhibits are designed to allow animals to remove themselves from visitor view at any time.

For these reasons, it is not always possible to predict or note these exceptions before the fact. For a report on current Zoo weather, click here, and for the Safari Park, click here

Refunds or exchanges are not possible in cases of inclement weather, excessive heat or exhibit closure.

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San Diego Zoo:  The quickest way to the Zoo from the San Diego International Airport is by taxi, an 11-minute, 5-mile ride.  Amtrak railway service (800-872-7245) travels up and down the coast between Los Angeles and downtown San Diego. Once your train arrives in San Diego, the quickest way to the Zoo from the Santa Fe Depot is by taxi, a 9-minute, 3 1/2-mile ride.

The #7 bus stops at the Zoo.  Information about public bus transportation can be found on the web at www.sdcommute.com or by calling 619-233-3004.

Safari Park:  Amtrak railway service (800-872-7245) travels up and down the coast between Los Angeles and downtown San Diego, stopping in Oceanside.  From Oceanside, a light rail service called the Sprinter travels to Escondido, approximately 22 miles. Once you arrive at the downtown Escondido Transit Center via the Sprinter, the quickest way to the Safari Park is by taxi, an 11-minute, 7-mile ride. You can find more information about the Sprinter on the web at http://www.gonctd.com/sprinter or by calling 760-967-2001.

There is one public bus that stops at the Safari Park; however, depending upon your departure point, connecting schedules may mean a travel time of approximately 25 minutes from the Escondido Transit Center and up to 3 hours each way from San Diego. Bus service is very limited on weekends and holidays.  Information about public bus transportation can be found on the web at www.sdcommute.com or by calling 619-233-3004. Overall, the easiest way to reach the Safari Park is by car.

Useful information can be obtained from the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, 619-232-3101. The Visitor Information Center can be reached at 619-276-8200. Another source of information is the San Diego North County Visitor Bureau, which can be reached at 800-848-3336.

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Guests who are on grounds at the Zoo or Safari Park and wish to leave and return the same day at no charge during open hours may have their hand stamped at the Exit Gate turnstiles. Be sure to keep your ticket! Safari Park guests should keep their parking receipts to avoid having to pay twice for same-day parking.  Refunds or exchanges are not possible in cases of inclement weather or exhibit closure.

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Children 15 years old and younger must be accompanied by a paid adult age 18+ to enter and throughout their visits to our parks.  "Paid adult" includes adults 18+ with valid, unexpired admission, membership or complimentary tickets.

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There really isn’t any special time that more animals are in view, although many of our animals are “early risers” and may be a bit more active in the morning. In our concern for the many endangered species that we house at our facilities, we have built exhibits that mimic natural environments. Like natural environments, these areas give the animals plenty of room to hide. We have found the ability to hide is important to the well-being of many species.

Animals may be taken off exhibit for a variety of reasons including environmental conditions, health issues, and behavioral concerns. In addition, many of our exhibits are designed to allow animals to remove themselves from visitor view at any time.

For these reasons, it is not always possible to predict or note these exceptions before the fact.

Refunds or exchanges are not possible in cases of inclement weather or exhibit closure.

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The popular Petting Paddock in the Children’s Zoo allows kids (and kids at heart) a chance to feel the wooly coat of a sheep or comb a gentle goat’s hair. The Zoo's Animals in Action program and Inside Look Tour get you VERY close to exotic animals. At the Safari Park, the Petting Kraal offers a very satisfactory tactile experience. Also at the Park is Lorikeet Landing, where you lend a hand—literally—in feeding the lorikeets! The Park’s interactive Animal Encounters program gives you an opportunity to have face-to-face contact with the Park’s animal ambassadors like a cheetah, alligator, serval, and other rare and exotic animals. You may interact with trainers and ask questions about the species. Interactions happen throughout the Park; check your Park map insert for times and locations. And (most of) our Special Experiences at both parks are uniquely designed to get you closer to animals!

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Go to our San Diego Zoo Animals website or use the website’s "Search" function to look for your animal. If the animal is part of our collection, its location will be noted on the response page.

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We encourage guests to take photos. However, as a not-for-profit organization, commercial use of photos taken at our facilities is strictly prohibited. Entering photo contests does not infringe on our copyright policies as long as photos taken on our grounds are not published. Lens size and other equipment is up to you. Please be courteous to other guests who may wish to get a close look as well.  Some tours prohibit bulky camera equipment, tripods and the use of selfie sticks.

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Yes. For animal health and safety, photo extension poles (selfie sticks) and other devices may not be used to cross exhibit boundaries. Some tours prohibit bringing selfie sticks, bulky camera equipment and tripods.

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San Diego Zoo Global prohibits guests to enter animal exhibits or reach past exhibit barriers. Guests are also asked not to reach out of any moving vehicle while touring the facilities. This policy is in place for the safety and wellbeing of the animals in our care as well as guests visiting our facilities.

The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park allows guests to use selfie sticks, but guests must adhere to our policies when using these telescoping devices. 

The Safari Park is now asking guests to stow this equipment during three of its tours - Caravan Safaris, Ultimate Safaris and Behind the Scene Safaris. When necessary, secure storage will be provided.

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No.  We house significant populations of rare and endangered species and both the Zoo and the Safari Park are considered to be quarantined facilities. State and federal regulations for such facilities do not allow for the access of pets accompanying guests to these facilities. 

We do not offer kennel service at either park. If you will require kennel service during your visit, please use the Contact Us link at the bottom of this page so we may provide you with a list of local kennels.  

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Guests are welcome to bring a backpack into our parks.

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Yes!  Guests may bring personal food items into our parks. Large food storage containers such as coolers are not permitted on grounds, and no facilities are available for food storage. For the convenience of guests, there are picnic areas located outside the Zoo’s main entrance and near the Safari Park’s entry plaza within easy walking distance of our parking lots. Zoo and Park guests who have already entered our parks may get their hand stamped for re-entry on the same day of their visit during operating hours. Special accommodations for school groups may be made. For the safety of guests and the animals in our care, please do not bring glass, alcohol, or straws into our parks.

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We recognize the seriousness of food allergies and although we would like to accommodate all guest requirements, as a not-for-profit organization we are unable to do so. Our kitchens are not equipped to prepare food separately for guests who are sensitive to certain ingredients. Each restaurant can provide an ingredient list for the items available for purchase; however, we cannot assure that other ingredients may not be in the preparation environment.  Guests are welcome to bring personal food items into our parks.  Large food storage containers such as coolers are not permitted on grounds and no facilities are available for food storage.

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Smoking (including e-cigarettes) is not permitted anywhere on Zoo or Safari Park grounds or parking lots.  Zoo guests should know smoking is not permitted in Balboa Park. 

Guests who wish to smoke are welcome to have their hands stamped for same-day re-entry when leaving our grounds to smoke. Please keep your ticket! Safari Park guests should keep their parking receipts to avoid having to pay twice for same-day parking when leaving the parking lot for and returning from smoke breaks. 

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Yes!  The Africa Tram Safari for the enjoyment of all ages.

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The Zoological Society of San Diego does business as San Diego Zoo Global. We are committed to high standards of ethical, moral, and legal business conduct. San Diego Zoo Global is further dedicated to acting in good faith with those clients or employees who raise concerns regarding incorrect financial reporting, unlawful activity, or otherwise improper conduct. The audit committee, board, and management team at San Diego Zoo Global value your input. This is why we have selected EthicsPoint to provide us with an anonymous and confidential method to hear your suggestions, concerns, or report of misconduct. The information you provide will be sent to us by EthicsPoint on a totally confidential and anonymous basis. You have our guarantee that your comments will be heard.

What is misconduct?

  • Theft, fraud, or any other form of dishonesty

  • Harassment or discrimination

  • Accounting or financial irregularities

  • On-the-job drug or alcohol abuse

  • Violence or threatening behavior

  • Violations of laws, regulations, policies, or procedures

To lodge a formal ethics or misconduct complaint, you can do so either via the web at https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/media/en/gui/24939/index.html or by calling 1-866-287-5716.

To lodge a customer service complaint, please use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this web page.

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We regret your experience did meet your expectations.  We appreciate constructive feedback to improve our service and guest experience.  To lodge a customer service complaint, please click on the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this web page.

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Africa Rocks Summer 2017. San Diego Zoo.
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