Bee-eaters on a branch.

Animals & Plants

Amur leopards love climbing, exploring, and playing with new things, and have a keen appreciation for scents.

A member of the boa family, South America’s green anaconda is the heaviest snake in the world.

A small, round body with thick fur and a fluffy tail help the Arctic fox survive its cold, harsh habitat.

You'll find quite a few botanical wonders from Down Under by the koalas and our other Australian and New Zealand animals.

Sometimes called the "pig deer" because of adult males' unusual tusks, babirusas live in wetlands and swamps within the rain forests of Indonesia's islands of Sulawesi, Togian, Sula, and Buru.

Both predator and scavenger—with a vulture’s ability to feed on carrion, and an eagle’s ability to hunt and kill snakes and other prey with its feet—the bateleur eagle is both versatile and unique.

The aptly named bee-eater bird is a skilled hunter, capable of catching a bee in flight, then heading to a tree branch to stun it and remove the stinger before eating it.

Male black-headed weavers build intricate hanging nests from strips of leaves, in hopes of attracting a female.

Bonobos are quite possibly the most intelligent primates on Earth (other than us, of course!)—and the San Diego Zoo was one of the first zoos to exhibit these highly endangered primates.

There are about 2,000 species of bromeliads, a rain forest plant—all of which are native to the Americas except one African species. Most bromeliads collect a pool of water in their centers and flower above the cup.

When they fly, California condors are a sight to behold. Their huge wings catch thermal air currents that rise up as the sun heats the ground—and with those wings, they can stay aloft for hours.

Camels can travel as fast as horses, but can also endure legendary periods of time without food or water.

Meet the capybara, the largest rodent in the world.

Cheetahs are the world's fastest land animal—capable of reaching speeds up to 70 miles per hour!

From nose to tail, belly to back, hard scales protect this petite alligator. Even their eyelids have bony plates under the skin!

Named for its cloud-like spots, the clouded leopard is a unique genus of cat and not just a type of leopard.

Dung beetles come in a variety of colors, from dull and glossy black to metallic green and red. Ancient Egyptians thought very highly of the dung beetle, also known as the scarab.

African elephants have very large ears that are shaped like the continent of Africa, while Asian elephants have smaller ears. You can see both species at Elephant Odyssey!

Follow the steps that lead down into Fern Canyon, a peaceful rain forest refuge that's perfect for a meandering stroll.

Found only in the forested island habitat of Madagascar, fossas may look a little like both cats and dogs, but they are actually more closely related to the mongoose.

Several of our Galápagos tortoises have been with us since 1928, making them the oldest residents in the Zoo. We estimate their age to be well over 100. 

Found only in the mountains of Ethiopia, geladas are considered the most terrestrial primate species, and they are the only primate with a diet made up mostly of grasses.

Who can resist the endearing face and lumbering ways of giant pandas? The San Diego Zoo has had a love affair with giant pandas ever since two of them came to visit for 100 days in 1987.

This family includes gingers, bananas, birds of paradise, heliconia, and cannas.

Giraffes are distinguished by their coat patterns, and by where they live in Africa. At the Zoo's Urban Jungle, you can see Masai giraffes.

The Zoo's horticultural treasures are very important for our gorillas' health and contentment. Their lush garden enclosure in Gorilla Tropics, combined with a variety of browse to snack on and play with, has led to a healthy family life for our gorilla troop.

Brown bears in interior North America are known as grizzly bears, because their brown fur is tipped with white or tan; the word grizzly means sprinkled or streaked with gray.

Hamadryas baboons can scale sheer cliff faces to reach their favorite craggy ledges—and there is constant activity as they vocalize, groom each other, bound into trees, and chase each other around.

The harpy eagle is legendary, although few people have seen one in the wild. Fortunately, you can view one here at the Zoo!

At this living exhibit showcasing Hawaiian plants, you'll discover the many treasures that exist in the flora of the Hawaiian Islands.

Indian crested porcupines have boldly marked quills with black and white bands—and some quills can be up to 20 inches long!

Jaguars are built for life in the tropical rain forest, with muscular limbs and large paws to climb trees, pad along the forest floor, and even swim in rivers and streams.

The largest venomous snake in the world, the king cobra has special muscles and ribs in its neck that spread out to form a "hood" when it feels threatened.

Standing less than 2 feet tall at the shoulder, klipspringers can jump 10 to 15 feet straight up in the air!

The San Diego Zoo has the largest koala colony—as well as the most successful koala breeding program—outside of Australia.

There are over 3,000 lizard species, but the Komodo dragon wins the prize for being the largest living lizard in the world!

Known as the bushman’s alarm clock, a laughing kookaburra vocalizes in its family group at dawn and dusk—with a loud call that sounds like a variety of trills, chortles, belly laughs, and hoots.

Found in only one area on Earth—Madagascar and the nearby Comoro Islands—lemurs are considered the world’s most endangered group of mammals.

Lions are famous for their sonorous roar but have other forms of communication as well, mostly used to mark territory. They spread their scent by rubbing their muzzle on tufts of grass or shrubs, and they rake the earth with their hind paws.

Mang Mountain pit vipers are strikingly beautiful snakes with green scales to help them blend into their bamboo habitat.

Meerkats live in underground burrows in a group—up to 30 individuals—called a gang or a mob, and they spend much of their time grooming and playing together to keep the family as a tight unit.

San Diego Zoo guests can encounter some of the most rare and endangered monkeys on Earth in the Zoo’s Lost Forest.

Mountain lions are the stealthiest of cats, hunting prey two to three times their own size.

With curved horns measuring up to four feet long, and segmented, concave hooves to climb even the steepest rocky cliffs, the Nubian ibex is both amazingly sure-footed and eye-catching.

With its white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs, the okapi looks like it must be related to zebras. But take a look at an okapi’s head, and you’ll notice a resemblance to giraffes.

At the otter and monkey exhibit along Hippo Trail, you can see swamp and spot-nosed monkeys play “grab-the-tail” with spotted-necked otters, groom them, and occasionally even hitch a quick ride on an otter as it swims by!  

Capable of reaching speeds of 15 miles per hour when swimming after prey (schooling fish, like sardines and anchovies), penguins also have staying power—they can remain underwater for more than two minutes!

Polar bears are right at home at the San Diego Zoo's Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge, where every day is an Arctic summer day.

At first glance, the pygmy hippo looks like a mini version of its larger relative, the river or common hippopotamus. But the pygmy hippo is much less aquatic than its cousin.

That famous rattle at the end of a rattlesnake’s tail is made of interlocking rings, or segments of keratin—the same material our fingernails are made of.

The red panda’s reddish coat and white face mask offer camouflage among the red moss and white lichen that cover the trees of its bamboo forest home.

In most deer species, only the males grow antlers. But reindeer are the exception: both males and females grow these bony structures, but at different times of the year!

Reptile Mesa has all kinds of exotic-looking plants (including, appropriately, dragon trees!) from all kinds of exotic locations.

Rhinos may look tough, but their skin is actually quite sensitive. That's why they like to wallow in mud—it puts a layer between their skin and the sun, and insects.

Long limbs give servals the ability to leap nine feet—straight up—to catch birds in midair, or reach deep into a rodent burrow to pull out prey.

Snow leopards live in Asia at very high elevations, where there are steep cliffs. The wild goats and sheep they prey on are quite nimble at leaping from rock to rock—and so are snow leopards!

Endangered sun bears, named for the golden crescent on their chest, are extremely agile tree climbers and make excellent use of their enclosure’s climbing structures.

With its cascading waterfalls, bubbling streams, thousands of exotic plants, and Indochinese animals, Sun Bear Forest® may be the closest you'll come to experiencing a southeast Asian rain forest in Southern California.

Gold-colored takins seem to have the horns of a wildebeest, the nose of a moose, and the body of a bison! But takins are related to sheep and wild goats.

Most closely related to horses and rhinos, tapirs have a nose and upper lip combined into a flexible snout like an elephant’s trunk, which they use to reach and pull plant material into their mouth.

When a group of Tasmanian devils feeds together, harsh screeching and spine-chilling screams can often be heard—which may have led to their unusual name.

There's almost always something blooming among the Terrace Lagoon's beautiful collection of bamboo, oriental pines, and flowering trees and shrubs.

 

A simulation of a tropical Asian rain forest, Tiger Trail features plants watered with a custom, high-tech misting system that has allowed them to grow to the point where you may truly feel like you're walking into a jungle.

Turtles spend most of their life in the water; terrapins spend time both on land and in water, but always live near water, along rivers, ponds, and lakes.

Variegated plants bring a slice of the wild and bizarre into a typically green world, and the collection at the Zoo's Variegated Garden features many eye-catching species in a picturesque setting.

The endangered Grevy's zebra is the largest of the three zebra species. It can weigh almost 1,000 pounds.

Giant panda Bai Yun and cub.
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Greater one-horned rhino calf resting its head on its mother's while they wade in a pool of water.
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