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The must see San Diego Zoo exhibits

A giant panda at the San Diego Zoo
A giant panda at the San Diego ZooCarli Leavitt

Anyone who has had the pleasure of spending a day at the World Famous San Diego Zoo, should know that it's nearly impossible to see everything in one trip. Rumor has it it can be done but anyone who tries will probably walk away with a blur of memories and more than a couple blisters. With over 100 acres of exhibits featuring more than 4,000 animals, seeing it all can be quite an exhausting feat

For all the San Diego visitors not interested in running a marathon up and down the hills of the zoo, but looking to make the most of the experience, here are the must-see San Diego Zoo exhibits:

  1. Elephant Odyssey: The elephants recently got some brand new digs and are now one of must see San Diego Zoo exhibits for a couple of reasons. First, the elephants now have a substantial amount of room to roam and a refreshing pool where they can take a quick dip, but the best part of the new Elephant Odyssey has got to be the Elephant Care Center. If guests time it right, they can actually watch as elephants get routine care including foot pad trims, baths and more. The best must see San Diego Zoo exhibit is actually home to five big beautiful elephants including a male with huge powerful tusks and four females including one African Elephant. Learn more about helping the zoo save elephants here.
  2. Polar Bear Plunge: 80% of the time, this zoo exhibit can seem a little boring. The bears are often sleeping or sunbathing and don't seem that interesting, that is unless you happen to catch the bears at feeding time. Then the Polar Bear Plunge turns into one of the absolute must see San Diego Zoo exhibits. The massive polar bears come alive at feeding time munching on carrots and ripping apart large meaty bones. Watching their powerful jaws rip apart the bones and delicate lips gently pick up each carrot leaves visitors mesmerized as they see a different side of these majestic animals. Learn more.
  3. The Reptile House: Sure, it's full of creepy crawlers, but even if slithering snakes that could kill you in one bite aren't your cup of tea, the Reptile House is still worth a trip. Packed full of rattlesnakes, king cobras, and every other type of snake you can think of, The Reptile House is definitely a must see San Diego Zoo exhibit. It's a great place to get up close and personal with the reptiles most of us try to avoid and also a good way to learn which snakes are poisonous and which ones aren't. It's also one of the few zoo exhibits with a roof over top, so it's a great stop for a midday break from the sun.
  4. Giant Pandas: As one of only four zoos in the United States with giant pandas on display, this must see San Diego zoo exhibit lets visitors get a rare glimpse into the life of these endangered animals. The San Diego Zoo has the most successful giant panda breeding program in the country and is credited with birthing and raising the first two giant pandas in the United States. A pair of giant pandas arrived in San Diego in 1987 on loan from China for less than a year and attracted 2 million visitors! This sparked a love for the giant pandas in San Diego and so the breeding program began.
  5. Balboa Park: OK, so this might not technically be a zoo exhibit but it is GORGEOUS and its the best place to do some major people watching in town! The architecture, gardens, rolling grass parks and museums make Balboa Park one of the most amazing places in San Diego and definitely worth a few hours for zoo visitors. Plus, it's free to just walk around, enjoy a picnic on the grass or play a game of tag with the kids.