SAN FRANCISCO ●Attractions●Parks/Zoo
San Francisco Zoo
Sloat Blvd./47th Ave., by Great Highway, Outer Sunset. Fee; parking fee.
Of special note are the Grizzly Gulch bear exhibit; the ½-acre Gorilla Preserve, which is one of the world’s largest gorilla habitats; the 3-acre African Savanna habitat for giraffes, zebras, and antelope as well as a host of African bird species; and the Lipman Family Lemur Forest featuring species of this endangered primate in the largest outdoor lemur habitat in the U.S. Also, the zoo’s collection of extremely endangered snow leopards is one of the most successful breeding groups in the world, and the lions and tigers are particularly interesting to visit when they are fed each afternoon from 2 to 3 p.m.--except on Monday, when they fast (this is the only remaining scheduled public feeding of lions and tigers in North America).
image cMichael Shay, courtesy of SF Zoological Society
A separate Children’s Zoo has a petting area with sheep and goats. Its Insect Zoo is populated with the likes of 6- to 8-inch-long walking sticks and giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and it has a functioning honeybee hive. An adjacent butterfly garden features native plants labeled with the type of butterfly they attract. Kids also especially enjoy the main zoo’s large playground, a recently restored antique carousel built in 1921 by the William Dentzel Carving Company, and the circa 1904 Little Puffer steam train. The perfect souvenir is a plastic Storybox Key that children can insert in boxes throughout the zoo to hear information about the animals.
A popular Valentine’s Day tour scheduled annually in February teaches about the birds and the bees from the perspective of various other species. Each year in September, members of the Zoological Society are invited to Night Tour. Entertainment, demonstrations, behind-the-scenes tours, and admission are all free, and a picnic dinner is available for a small charge. Support the zoo and find out just what happens here after dark.