The San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo is home to a stunning and important botanical collection as well as several hundreds of species of animals, many of which are highly endangered. From the smallest insect to the tallest giraffe, you are sure to find a story that touches and inspires you. The animals, exhibits and plants are just some of the wonderful things you can experience in this urban oasis nestled against the Pacific Ocean.
This civic treasure of San Francisco was inspired by a challenge in the 1880s by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst to a reporter to find a California grizzly bear. The challenge was met when a grizzly was captured and brought to San Francisco in 1889 and called Monarch. The famous bear, who is featured on the California state flag, lived in captivity in the city until he died in 1911. He was preserved and mounted and currently remains with the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. So in 1929, after years of planning, the San Francisco Zoological Gardens opened in its current location in the furthest southwest corner of the city, next to the Pacific Ocean.
Today, this modern zoo is designed with the underlying belief that interaction with wildlife and nature will lead to conservation. Connecting people with wildlife in a park-like setting, showcasing native plants and gardens and using education to provide formal and informal learning programs for children and adults makes the zoo a recreation area where people can relax and have fun. It is also a bird sanctuary and bird watcher's paradise. One of the many outstanding exhibits is the Feline Conservation Center built in 1994 that cares for Snow leopards, Persian leopards and Jaguars. A 20,000 square foot naturalistic habitat was "a first of its kind" breeding and research center. My favorite is the Penguin pool, where the antics of the penguins have made some of them world famous.
What began with a man and a bear has become a thriving urban zoo boasting over 250 species, a Children's Zoo and Family Farm and hundreds of well-researched exhibits in a natural setting. Check out their website for a complete history and calendar of on-going events. Phone: 415-753-7080