Garden Festival

In its first 100 years, the San Diego Zoo has blossomed into a world-renowned botanical garden.

Join us for a bountiful harvest of fun activities and experiences celebrating our first-class flora. Explore our lush landscape of rare species, discover our accredited collections, and take home some ideas and plants for yourself.

Come see how we’ve grown! Saturday and Sunday, May 7 – 8, 2016.


The Best of Dr. Zoolittle
Location: Koalafornia Boardwalk
Time: 12:30 & 1:30 p.m.

The San Diego Zoo’s own zany Dr. Zoolittle has been bringing fun and facts to audiences for decades. In his newest show, he’s bringing back some blasts from the past to wow young and old alike.


Botanical Bus Tour
Location: Bus Unloading
Time: 11 a.m.

Climb aboard for a special look at our world-class botanical collection, narrated by a San Diego Zoo horticulturist.

Plant Sale
Location: Mercado
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Stop by the Mercado and pick out a bit of Zoo greenery to take home. The plants for sale were propagated from plants on Zoo grounds. A horticulturist will be on hand to help you choose the best plant for your needs.

Carnivorous Plants
Location: Lost Forest
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Carnivorous plants get most of their nutrition from the insects they “eat,” so they’re able to thrive where other plants can’t. Discover the secrets of these misunderstood plants.

Kids’ Craft
Location: Australian Outback
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Make some special floral art to take home.

Dig In for Butterflies
Location: Koalafornia Boardwalk
Time: 1 & 2 p.m

Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed plants for food, as caterpillars. Join us in preparing a feast for future generations by planting milkweed seeds. Learn about plant conservation projects that help our native wildlife, and the San Diego Zoo's new collaboration with the Center for Plant Conservation.

Scavenger Hunt
Location: Various Locations
Time: 9 a.m. to closing

Follow the clues to root out some of the oldest and largest plants in the Zoo—and unearth a prize to take home!

See How Our Gardens Have Grown
Location: Lost Forest
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We’ve dug deep into our archives to find “baby pictures” of some of the plants still on grounds today. Take a trip back in time and see some of our oldest/biggest plants, then and now.

Orchid House
Location: Front Street
Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Stroll through our orchid house and see specimens you won’t believe!

Up a Tree
Location: Lost Forest
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Meet an arborist at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

We have thousands of trees of all shapes and sizes on our 100 acres. Find out how our arborists use tools and knowledge to keep them thriving.

Costume Characters
Location: Koalafornia Boardwalk
Time: 10 & 11 a.m.; noon; 1 p.m.

Join Matilda Koala and her costume character friends for hellos, hugs, and photos.

Break It Down!
Location: Children's Zoo
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Most plants need healthy soil to thrive, and Nature has a system to make that happen. As plant matter rots, nutrients are made available to the soil. Say hello to wiggly worms that do the hard work of breaking down dead plants, and find out how you can start composting at home.

A World of Their Own
Location: Discovery Outpost
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dip into the world of bromeliads. Found in rain forests, most bromeliads collect a pool of water in their centers and flower above the cup, which forms an oasis for insects and small animals.

Weird and Wonderful
Location: Elephant Odyssey
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Hear from a horticulturist at noon and 2 p.m.

The arid areas of Madagascar are home to some odd-looking plants with noteworthy adaptations. Stop by and discover the many ways “odd” can be awesome.

Down Under Wonders
Location: Australian Outback
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Hear from a horticulturist at noon and 1:30 p.m.

Discover the wonderful world of Australian plants and how you can have them at home.

Bamboo Secrets
Location: Panda Canyon
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Discover the secrets of bamboo—and how we grow so much for our pandas.

Growing Tortoise Treats
Location: Discovery Outpost
Time: 10:30 a.m.; 1 p.m.

We grow some of our Galápagos tortoises’ favorite foods right here at the Zoo. Watch them enjoy a treat, and find out how and why we raise cactus pads and hibiscus flowers for our oldest reptile residents.

Ask a Master Gardener
Location: Front Street
Time: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Get the scoop on gardening in San Diego by tapping into the vast knowledge of the San Diego Master Gardeners volunteers.

Botanical Walking Tour
Location: Entrance
Time: 9:30 a.m.

Join one of our horticulturists on a stroll highlighting stories about our plant collection and unique specimens.

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