Located on 100 acres (40 ha) of Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is a public zoo in San Diego, California, with about 12,000 animals representing more than 650 species and subspecies. The San Diego Zoo operates under a lease agreement by San Diego. In addition, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is a private, non-profit conservation organization that has one of the most significant zoological membership associations in the world, with more than 250,000 member households and 130,000 child memberships, representing more than a half-million individuals.
With its open-air, cageless exhibits that mimic natural animal habitats, the San Diego Zoo was a pioneer in the notion of natural animal habitats. However, in 2019, the pandas were returned to their home country, China, where they had previously lived and successfully reproduced for decades.
The San Diego Zoo received more than 4 million visitors in 2018, making it the most visited in the United States of America. Travelers have also praised it as one of the world’s top zoos, with some calling it the best in the world. This certified member of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA), the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and the World Association of Zoological Gardens (WAZA) includes the San Diego Zoo (WAZA). The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance also manages the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is adjacent to the San Diego Zoo.
The San Diego Zoo arose out of the exotic animal shows abandoned after the Panama-California Exposition in 1915. At its first meeting on October 2, 1916, Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth established the Zoological Society of San Diego, which initially followed the patterns found by the New York Zoological Society, which had established a zoo in the Bronx. The group elected him as president in 1937, and he served in that position until 1941.
In August 1921, a permanent piece of land in Balboa Park was set aside. The city attorney agreed that San Diego, CA, would own all of the animals, and the zoo staff would be in charge of their management. The following year began the relocation process, and a menagerie from the abandoned Wonderland Amusement Park was donated. Ellen Browning Scripps provided the funds to construct a fence around the zoo, which allowed it to begin collecting an admission fee to defray operating costs. ZooNooz was first published in quarter one of 1925.