The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park, is a zoo in the San Pasqual Valley area of San Diego, California, near Escondido. It is one of the largest tourist attractions in the county and Southern California. The Park houses a large array of wild and endangered animals including species from the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Australia. The park is in a semi-arid environment and one of its most notable features is the Journey into Africa tram which explores the expansive African exhibits. These free-range enclosures house such animals as cheetahs, antelopes, lions, giraffes, okapis, elephants, zebras, Przewalski's horses, rhinos, and bonobos. The park is also noted for its California condor breeding program, the most successful such program in the country.
The Park, visited by 2 million people annually, has an area of 1,800 acres (730 ha) and, in 2005, housed 3,000 animals of more than 400 species plus 3,500 species of unique plants.
Depending on the season, the park has about 400 to 600 employees. The park is also Southern California's quarantine center for zoo animals imported into the United States through San Diego.
The Park has the world's largest veterinary hospital. Next door to the hospital is the Institute for Conservation Research which holds the park's Frozen Zoo.
Both the park and the San Diego Zoo are run by the Zoological Society of San Diego. The Park is 32 miles (51 km) away from the zoo, at 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road east of Escondido, California, along California State Route 78.
In 2010, the zoo's board of directors voted to change the name of the park to San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The name change was completed by the end of the year.
The San Diego Zoological Society became interested in developing the Wild Animal Park in 1964. The idea of the park began as a supplementary breeding facility for the San Diego Zoo, which would allow ample space for large animals and ungulates.
The development proposed would differ significantly from that of a typical zoo in that animals would be exhibited in a natural environment rather than in cages. In 1964, the park was assessed financially and then moved onto the next phase; this resulted in three alternative developments. There was an idea for a conservation farm, a game preserve, and a natural environment zoo. The natural environment zoo development was chosen over the conservation farm and game preserve even though it was the most expensive option. The estimated initial cost was $1,755,430.
Full article ▸