When the Panama–California Exposition ended in 1915, Harry Milton Wegeforth, a local doctor and animal lover, saw a great opportunity to start a zoo using the exotic animal exhibits that had been abandoned. From this small endeavor the zoo has grown to over 3,700 animals with a mission to study, protect, and care for animals and plants in need of conservation.
The zoo covers 100 acres with animals grouped according to their native countries and habitats. Remember to pick up a map because the paths wind around and it’s easy to get confused. Be prepared for a workout due to the hilly terrain. If you get tired take advantage of the Skyfari, guided bus tour, Kangaroo Bus and the moving walkways which are all included in the admission fee.
Many areas of the zoo are not very handicapped accessible due to the construction of the enclosures and the hilly terrain. A free companion pass is available for all paying guests who need assistance. The buses, Skyfari, and moving walkway are not accessible but an accessible shuttle bus is available upon request. The Africa Rocks exhibit which is still under construction will feature an ADA compliant path into the main canyon.
The zoo lot is large enough for any RV but it can be crowded on weekends.
A big thank you to our RTR friend Dave for his help and hospitality during our visit to the zoo and Balboa Park!