San Francisco Zoo

San Francisco Zoo

Infobox zoo
zoo_name = San Francisco Zoo

logo_width = 160px
logo_caption =

image_width =
image_caption =
date_opened = 1929
date_closed =
location = San Francisco, California
area = 0.51 k² (125 acres; 51 ha)
coordinates = coord|37|43|59|N|122|30|11|W|type:landmark|display=inline,title
num_animals = >930
num_species = ~250
members = AZA
exhibits = African Savanna, Gorilla Preserve, Grizzly Gulch, Lemur Forest
website =

The San Francisco Zoo, housing more than 250 animal species is located in the southwestern corner of San Francisco, California nestled between Lake Merced and the Pacific Ocean along the Great Highway. The zoo's main entrance, once located on the north side across the street from the defunct Doggie Diner, and one block south of the Muni Metro L Taraval line, is now to the west on the ocean side of the zoo off of the Great Highway.



Originally named the Fleishhacker Zoo after its founder, banker and San Francisco Parks Commission president Herbert Fleishhacker, planning for construction began in 1929 on the site adjacent to what was once the largest swimming pool in the United States, the Fleishhacker Pool.cite web | author=Press Room | title=Zoo Fact Sheet | url= | work=San Francisco Zoological Society | date=2008 | accessdate=2008-07-19] The area was also already home to a children’s playground, an original Michael Dentzel carousel, and the Mother’s Building, a haven for women and their children. Most of the exhibits were populated with animals transferred from Golden Gate Park, including two zebras, a cape buffalo, five rhesus monkeys, two spider monkeys, and three elephants (Virginia, Marjory, and Babe).


The first exhibits built in the 1930s cost US$3.5 million, which included Monkey Island, Lion House, Elephant House, a sea lion pool, an aviary and bear grottos. These spacious, moated enclosures were among the first bar-less exhibits in the country.

Over the next 40 years, the Zoological Society became a powerful fundraising source for the San Francisco Zoo, just as Fleishhacker had hoped when he envisioned: "…a Zoological Society similar to those established in other large cities. The Zoological Society will aid the Parks Commission in the acquisition of rare animals and in the operation of the zoo." Fact|date=February 2007 True to its charter, the Society immediately exerted its influence on the zoo, obtaining more than 1,300 annual memberships in its first 10 years (nearly 25,000 today). It also funded projects like the renovation of the Children’s Zoo in 1964, development of the African Scene in 1967, the purchase of medical equipment for the new zoo Hospital in 1975, and the establishment of the Avian Conservation Center in 1978.

Present day

In November 2004, Tinkerbelle, San Francisco Zoo's last Asian elephant, was moved to a sanctuary (PAWS-Performing Animal Welfare Society) in the Sierra. Lulu, an African elephant, joined her there in March 2005, so no elephants are on display at the zoo. The moves followed the highly publicized deaths of 38-year-old Calle in March 2004 and 43-year-old Maybelle in April 2004. [cite news |url = | title=Zoo to Send 2 Elephants to Sanctuaries; Director defies Recommendation to Ship Pachyderms to Other Zoos | author=Patricia Yollin | work=The San Francisco Chronicle | date=2005-03-04 | accessdate=2006-12-27]

The San Francisco Zoo is the largest and oldest zoo in northern California.

In early 2006, the SF Zoo announced its offer to name a soon-to-hatch American bald eagle after comedian Stephen Colbert. [cite news| author=Leah Garchik | url=|title=Leah Garchik | work=The San Francisco Chronicle | date=2006-03-31 | accessdate=2006-12-27] The publicity and goodwill garnered from coverage of the event on the Colbert Report was a windfall for the zoo and the city of San Francisco. Stephen Jr. was born on April 17, 2006.


Tiger attacks

On December 22, 2006, the 242-pound Siberian tiger Tatiana attacked zookeeper Lori Komejan, causing the keeper to be hospitalized for several weeks with lacerated limbs and shock. The Lion House was closed for ten months as a result. California's Division of Occupation Safety and Health found the zoo liable for the keeper's injuries, fined the zoo, and ordered safety improvements. [cite news | url= | title=Tiger kills 1 after escaping at San Francisco Zoo | work=The International Herald Tribune | date=2007-12-26 | accessdate=2007-12-26 | author=Carolyn Marshall] [cite news | author=Michael Taylor; Patricia Yollin | url= | title=Zoo keeper hurt in tiger attack | work=The San Francisco Chronicle | date=2006-12-23 | accessdate=2007-12-26 ] [cite news | author=Patricia Yollin| url= | title=Zoo reopens Lion House for public feedings 10 months after mauling | work=San Francisco Chronicle | date=2007-09-07 | accessdate=2007-12-25]

On December 25, 2007, the same tiger escaped from her grotto and attacked three zoo visitors. Carlos Sousa, 17, of San Jose, California was killed at the scene. The tiger was shot and killed by police as she was attacking another victim, who survived. Three other tigers who shared Tatiana's grotto did not escape. [cite news | author=Ron Ruegg | url= | title=Escaped tiger shot after killing zoo visitor, injuring 2 others | work=CNN | date=2007-12-25 | accessdate=2007-12-25] [cite news | author=Glenn Chapman | url= | title=Escaped tiger kills one, injures two at San Francisco zoo | work=Agence France Presse | date=2007-12-26 | accessdate=2007-12-26] Tatiana arrived at the San Francisco Zoo from the Denver Zoo in 2005, in hopes that she would mate. [cite news | author=Jordan Robertson; Marcus Wohlsen | title=Teen Died Trying to Save Man From Tiger | url= | work=Associated Press | date=2007-12-28 | accessdate=2008-07-23] (This "Tatiana" is not the same as the one successfully breeding in the Toronto Zoo.) The attack is the first visitor fatality due to animal escape at a member zoo in the history of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, according to the association. [cite news | author=Staff writers | url= | title=California teen named as victim of tiger mauling | date=2007-12-26 | work=CNN | accessdate=2007-12-26]

Escape attempts

A polar bear and snow leopard came close to escaping their enclosures in the weeks after the Christmas Day tiger attack. Zookeepers have expressed concern regarding the safety of the zoo. However, zoo officials stated that the animals were acting normally and that neither of them posed a threat to zookeepers or the public. [cite news | author=Marisa Lagos; Patricia Yollin; Audrey Cooper | title=Zoo safety questioned again after near-escapes of snow leopard and polar bear | url= | work=San Francisco Chronicle | date=11 January 2008| accessdate=2008-07-19] The snow leopard, who has not been on public display for months, chewed a hole in the netting in its main holding pen, however the leopard was double caged and keepers responded before any further threat was posed.


The San Francisco Zoo participates in Species Survival Plans, conservation programs sponsored by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The program began in 1981 for selected species in North American zoos and aquarium where the breeding of a species done to maintain healthy, self-sustaining, genetically diverse and demographically stable populations. [cite web | author= | title=Species Survival Plan Program | url= | publisher=Association of Zoos and Aquariums | date=29 April 2008 | accessdate=2008-07-23] The zoo participates in more than 30 SSP programs, working to conserve species ranging from Madagascan radiated tortoises and reticulated giraffes to black rhinos and gorillas. Also, four members of the zoo's animal care staff serve as coordinators for national population management plans, acting as genetic advisors in the reproduction and conservation of species including marbled teal (an endangered eastern European duck), caracal (an African wild cat), Eurasian eagle owl (the world's largest owl species), northern tree shrew, and the native San Francisco garter snake (a critically endangered species).

Exhibit renovations

* Otter River (1994) featuring North American river otters
* Feline Conservation Center (1994) housing three species of small cats, including snow leopard, ocelot, and Malayan fishing cats
* Spectacled bear exhibit renovation (1994)
* Lion House outdoor enclosures (1994)
* Eagle Island renovation (1995) providing a home for Sureshot, an injured (and non-releasable) bald eagle
* Australian WalkAbout (1995) new space for red kangaroos and emus
* Flamingo Lake renovation (1995)
* Monkey Island demolition (1995)
* Hippopotamus exhibit renovation (1995)
* Warthog exhibit (1996)
* Billabong (1996)
* Aviary renovation (1996)
* Ring-tailed lemur exhibit renovation (1996)
* Children’s Zoo entrance (1996)
* Kodiak bear exhibit (1996)
* Avian Conservation Center (1997)
* African lion cub exhibit (1997)
* Aye-aye Forest (1997)
* Asian elephant exhibit renovations (1997 and 1999)
* Rainbow Landing (now Lorikeet Landing) (1998)
* Outdoor aviary demolition (1998)
* Restoration of Little Puffer (miniature railroad) (1998)
* Primate Discovery Center terrace exhibit renovation (1998)
* Children’s Zoo renovation (1999)
* Puente al Sur (1999) now houses giant anteaters, mountain tapirs, and capybara

* Infrastructure replacement (1999)
* Aviary renovation (2000) depicts a South American tropical forest, complete with birds, caiman, and an anaconda
* Seal pool/bear exhibits (2000)
* Connie and Bob Lurie Education Center (2001)
* Koret Animal Resource Center (2001)
* Expanded Children’s Zoo and Family Farm (2001)
* Wetlands habitat (2001)
* Cassowary Exhibit (2001) features double-wattled cassowaries, one of the world's largest bird species
* Lipman Family Lemur Forest (2002) houses five species of Madagascan primates in an outdoor forest
* Friend and Taube Entry Village (2002)
* Leaping Lemur Café (2002)
* Split Mound artwork by McCarren/Fine (2002)
* Bronze lion sculptures by Gwynn Murrill (2002)
* Zoo Street and parking (2002)
* Dentzel Carousel (2002)
* African Savanna (2004) features giraffe, zebra, kudu, ostrich and other African wildlife roaming together in a lush, 3 acre (1 ha) habitat.
* African Savanna Giraffe Feedings (2006)
* Black swan exhibit (2006)
* Binnowee Landing and Feeding (formerly Lorikeet Landing) (2006)
* Kunekune pig exhibit at the Family Farm (formerly the miniature pig exhibit) (2006)
* Hearst Grizzly Gulch exhibit (opened June 14 2007)

ee also

*San Francisco Municipal Railway


External links

*San Francisco Zoo [ Official website]
*San Francisco Zoo [ Podcasts]
*San Francisco Zoo [ Twitter]
* [ American Zoo and Aquarium Association]
*Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) [ Elephant Sanctuary]
* [ Citizens Lobbying for Animals in Zoos, San Francisco]
* [ SFZOOO.ORG - a parody site launched by Citizens Lobbying for Animals in Zoos on April 1st 2008]

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