Locals’ Guide: San Antonio Zoo

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Lions, tigers, bears…oh my! Where in San Antonio can you find those three wild animals and plenty more? The zoo, of course! The San Antonio Zoo is known as the area’s first zoo to consist of a collection of animals assembled in San Pedro Park in the 1800s. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization is home to a wide variety of animals, including 750 species on 56 acres, which includes 34 acres of public pathways.

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The month of February, in particular, is a very special month for the San Antonio Zoo. From Feb. 1-28, the Zoo is celebrating Educator Appreciation Month. During the entire month of February, educators receive free admission to the zoo as well as an additional 50% off the regular admission price for up to four (4) of their accompanying guests. In order to qualify for the promotion, visitors must “be an active educator in any school district in the state of Texas, employed by an accredited pre-K-12 public, private, or parochial school in the state of Texas, provide a driver’s license AND one of the following items at the ticket window: Copy of Teachers Certificate, Pay stub from school disctrict/school (public or private school), or Photo ID/Badge from school district/school.”

Even if you are not an educator, the San Antonio Zoo always provides a special experience for all visitors. From encounters with your favorite animals to the zoo train, there’s a lot to look forward to when you visit the Zoo…

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The San Antonio Zoo has a long list of animal exhibits that feature everything from amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles. The exhibits are separated by region and by animal type. The following is a list of the eight animal exhibits at the Zoo:

  • Africa Live!: This is the Zoo’s newest exhibit that allows guests to actually experience the world of Africa—including its plants, animals, and people. In this exhibit, visitors will have an opportunity to see hippos, crocodiles, and African cichlids from Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi. The theme of this experience: “Africa Live! See it. Feel It. LIVE IT.”
  • African Plains: In the African Plains, the watering hole becomes the center point for the animals to congregate. Visitors will see “an arid, rocky expanse, dotted with clumps of shrubs and tough grasses and backed by natural limestone rock wall where you can see a small trickling stream flows down the cliffs, across the stone floor into a rocky pool.” When it comes to wildlife, be on the lookout for ostriches, Grevy’s zebra, African crowned cranes, Topi, Marabou storks, and other antelopes.
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  • Amazonia: Welcome to the Amazon, a green outdoor area, encompassing a large segment of the zoo’s waterway. Similar to the Amazon Rainforest, you’ll find 30 species of tropical animals and many types of tropical plants including orchids and bromeliads. Visitors will also be pleased to see the smallest monkeys in the world, spider monkeys, as well as large and small cats, such as the jaguar and the ocelot, cotton-topped tamarins, marmosets, capuchins, white-faced saki monkeys, armadillos, bats, fish, and birds such as macaws and the giant Andean condor.
  • Cranes of the World: An exhibit that features some of the “most beautiful, magnificent, and charismatic birds” on the planet, visitors will have a look at the whooping crane, blue crane, Manchurian crane and hooded crane.
  • Gibbon Forest: Located next to the Komodo dragons and the langurs’ exhibit, the Gibbon Forest has wire fabric that secures the enclosure and natural landscaping with ropes and vines give the gibbons opportunity for movement and play.
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  • Big Cat Valley: One of the most popular and newer exhibits, the Big Cat Valley is home to the big cats of the zoo, including the lions and tigers. If seeing these beautiful cats up close isn’t incredible enough, soon the Zoo will be adding a new feature to the exhibit: “To add to this experience, guests will now be able to play tug of war with a lion. In a few weeks, with the help of animal care specialist during designated times, guests can test their strength against that of a lion.”
  • Giraffes at the Savanna: This exhibit is considered a “must-do at the zoo,” and provides guests with an opportunity to actually feed the giraffes. Not only can you get eye-to-eye with the world’s largest land mammal, but for just $5, you can feed these amazing creatures three leaves of lettuce.
  • Hixon Bird House: Located in a circular building, you’ll immediately notice the openness as you step into the “central glass-domed area is planted with large trees, shrubs and low plants and contains a small pond.” This exhibits allows you to experience the sight of birds from all parts of the world, including the roadrunner and burrowing owl from the deserts of the American southwest, the black-necked stilt and Inca tern from the coastal beaches, the quetzal, tinamou, and sun bittern from the South American rain forest, the lesser green broadbill and fairy bluebird from the jungles of Asia, and finally, the Taveta golden weaver, Egyptian plover, and jacana from the African bush, as well as many others.

Additional Information & Attractions

Beyond the animal exhibits, you’ll also find extra attractions including the Zoo Train, the Butterflies! Caterpillar Flight School, Lory Landing!, Zootennial Carousel, and Animal and Guest Encounters.

The San Antonio Zoo is open year round; however, dates and times do vary. Visit the Zoo Calendar for exact hours. The Zoo is located at 3903 North St. Mary’s St., San Antonio, Texas 78212 (on the corner of Tuleta and North St. Mary’s).

Tickets to the Zoo can be purchased online or in person, and there are a variety of ticket options available:

  • Daily Admission (Adult: $14.25, Child: $11.25, Children 2 years old and under: Free)
  • Zoo Fun Day Ticket: includes one visit to the San Antonio Zoo, Zoo Train, Zoo Carousel, and Zoo Lory’s Landing (Adult: $18.99, Child: $15.99)
  • Annual Membership (find out more online)

To find out more and plan your visit, check out the official San Antonio Zoo website.

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