San Diego Zoo Safari Park, formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park, has operated in the San Diego area since 1972. The park is home to more than 2600 animals from over 300 different species. It also features a collection of more than 1.5 million plants from around the world. (http://www.sandiegozoo.org/disclaimers/aboutus.html)
The plants and animals at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are divided into thirteen different exhibits. The largest of these is the African Plains exhibit, which features the wildlife of the different regions of Africa. Visitors can view buffalo, giraffes, zebras, and more as the animals forage and play in their open range habitats. (http://sdzsafaripark.org/park-animals-plants) The African Plains exhibit is also home to the only northern white rhino in America, one of just a few left in the world. (http://web.archive.org/web/20080630093803/http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/06/11/news/inland/61007190722.txt)
Another large exhibit at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is the Asian Savanna. The animals who live in the Asian Savanna include camels, wild cattle, and several specials of deer, antelope, and horses. (http://sdzsafaripark.org/park-animals-plants) One of these species is the Arabian oryx, a type of antelope that was hunted to extinction in the wild in the 1960’s. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park started working to help save the oryx in 1972, and more than 400 oryx have been born in the park since then. (http://sdzsafaripark.org/wildlife/arabian-oryx)
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has several large exhibits that provide space for large animals to live and move comfortably. A group of six lions came to the zoo from South Africa in 2004 when they were just a few months old. (http://web.archive.org/web/20050205030814/http://www.sandiegozoo.org/kids/animal_lions.html) Since then, they have formed a pride that lives and plays together in the Lion Camp. Other big cats can be found throughout the park as well. A group of tigers can be seen in the park’s Tiger Trail, and the African Outpost section of the park contains a cheetah habitat.
Many of the park’s smaller creatures live in the Nairobi Village area of the park. Animals like fruit bats and pheasants can be viewed as they fly, eat, and explore. The Hidden Jungle inside of Nairobi Village is home to the smallest critters of all, including birds, butterflies, and bugs. (http://web.archive.org/web/20060811233959/http://www.sandiegozoo.org/wap/ex_hidden_jungle.html) Hissing cockroaches, giant millipedes, hummingbirds, and more all live in this exhibit. Larger birds can be seen throughout the park. For example, Condor Ridge is home to several eagles and owls. It also hosts the most successful California condor breeding program in America. (http://sdzsafaripark.org/wildlife/california-condor)
In addition to the hundreds of animal species, San Diego Zoo Safari Park also hosts more than 3500 species of plants. These plants can be found throughout the park in the animal habitats and in their own separate gardens. The park’s Bonsai Pavilion is the largest display of bonsai trees in the Western US. (http://www.sandiegozoo.org/CF/plants/gardendetail16.html)
In addition to viewing the plants and animals in their habitats throughout the park, San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers several unique activities and experiences for visitors to get an even closer look at the wildlife. During the daily Cheetah Run, you can watch one of the world’s fastest animals show off its speed as it races down a 330-foot-long track at up to 70 miles per hour. Safaris and tram rides offer a guided tour of the animal habitats from up close. Visitors can also listen to talks from the park’s animal trainers, and even pet and feed animals like goats and lorikeets.
The park is popular with visitors from all over the country and even some from all over the world. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that more than a million people visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park each year. (http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/americas-most-visited-zoos/21)