Lost Forest



Stroll down Tiger Trail, and you’ll soon come upon a most unusual mammal—the Malayan tapir. Guests often ask, “Is it a pig? An anteater?” No, the tapir is a primitive animal that has remained unchanged for millions of years. 

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 the mouth. 

Hawaiian Native Plant Garden

The Hawaiian Islands have been called the endangered species capital of the world, with more endangered species per square mile than any place on Earth. To save the last remaining plants from extinction, many steps must be taken. The San Diego Zoo has developed a living exhibit showcasing some Hawaiian plants in hopes that people will become aware of the treasure we have in the flora of the Hawaiian Islands.

Terrace Lagoon

Unless you have dined at the Front Street Café, snacked at the Lagoon Terrace, or met in the Rondavel meeting room, you may not even be aware of the lovely oriental garden surrounding the Terrace Lagoon. The entrance, like that of Fern Canyon, is purposely inconspicuous, to keep the garden lagoon secluded and tranquil. Plant lovers, however, would do well to seek out the Terrace Lagoon's beautiful collection of bamboo, oriental pines, and flowering trees and shrubs.

Tiger Trail

Tiger Trail, completed in 1988, brought the Zoo's bioclime expertise to a whole new level. A simulation of a tropical Asian rain forest, the exhibit was a huge undertaking. Its plants are watered with a custom, high-tech misting system. They have now grown to the point where they make you truly feel like you're walking into a jungle when you enter the trail from the lower level of the Lost Forest habitat. And the tigers, tapirs, fishing cats, and milky storks you find there seem perfectly at home in surroundings that mimic their natural habitat.    

Bog Garden

Bug-eating plants

In the nearly sterile, acidic, low-oxygen environments called bogs, you'll encounter one of nature's most inspired adaptations: carnivorous plants. In these difficult environments, plants have adapted to lure, trap, and digest insects and other small animals in order to survive. Like other plants, they still use the sun's energy and the traditional photosynthesis process, and they produce flowers in the spring to ensure pollination by the first insect visitors.

Fern Canyon

Look carefully on the right side of the San Diego Zoo's Flamingo Lagoon, and you'll see a shady path just beyond the bus loading area. Look for the inviting shade on your right and follow the steps down into Fern Canyon, a peaceful rain forest refuge that's perfect for a meandering stroll.

Ginger Garden

Members of the Zingerberaceae family are perennial herbs, comprising about 47 genera and around 1,000 species. This family includes gingers, bananas, birds of paradise, heliconia, and cannas. The ginger family is found in many parts of the world. In the Zoo's growing collection, we have around 50 species representing the Americas, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific.

Gorilla Tropics® and Scripps Aviary

While any lushly planted spot in the San Diego Zoo is nice for a relaxing pause in your stroll through the grounds, the walk-through aviaries are especially tranquil. As you amble through Scripps Aviary in Gorilla Tropics®, be sure to stop now and then to sit on the pathway benches. As you look around, you'll get a good feel for the flora and fauna you'd see in an African forest—without the man-eating carnivores and poisonous snakes! The aviary even has waterfalls and gentle showers.


Just behind the river hippos’ beach, you’ll find a most unusual animal: the okapi. With its white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs, it 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. Its long, dark, prehensile tongue, just like a giraffe’s, helps the okapi strip the buds and young leaves from the understory brush of their rain forest home. Our researchers discovered that okapis vocalize with very low frequencies—too low for humans to hear!


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