Take a Safari through Africa at San
Diego's Wild Animal Park!
San Diego Wild Animal Park is a 1,800-acre wildlife preserve
featuring 38 endangered species of mammals and 11 endangered species of
birds amongst its collection of over 3,500 exotic animals. They roam the
park as they might have done in their native Asia andd Africa
(modifications have been implemented to keep species thriving).
A tram ride allows guests to see animals roaming in their habitat and for
an additional fee, you can get up close and personal with a customized
Located 32 miles northeast of its sister, San Diego Zoo,
and operated under the auspices of the San Diego Zoological Society, the
Wild Animal Park doesn't look or feel like a zoo. 20 times larger than
the San Diego Zoo, the entry gate doesn't give much away in terms of what
to expect but when you wander inside, everything feels different. It's
a dream realized for naturalists who thinks zoos are cruel to animals.
For tourists accustomed to seeing row upon row of cages and a show,
that aspect of the park is very low key.
What you soon discover as you wind your way back to the
tram (the zoo train ended a decades-long run as the park scrapped the train,
saying the could no longer find parts to operate it) is that this is the heart of action. It is where you
will be allowed to watch from a distance in an open car the animals living,
grazing, resting and running out on huge plains and rolling hills. Your
train passes cliffs where you are challenged to spot the many animals
camouflaged in the brown and white rocks. The ride is interesting
and can be full of surprises. While animals are well fed, they are
not tamed here so you never know what to expect.
If you are seeking a thrill ride such as a vertical drop on a
roller coaster, this is not be the place to visit. There are several shows such
as a popular bird demonstration which has been around in one form or another for
many years. The park realizes the need to educate and entertain the public
to help bring in necessary funding support. But it is easy to see that this place was created to help the animals and its
list of successes and "firsts" are many. If you seek something different,
go out of your way and drive to Escondido to the San Diego Wild Animal
The San Diego Wild Animal Park is located off Interstate
5 between Orange County/ Los Angeles area and San Diego in the city of
Escondido. Take the State Route 78 east exit at Oceanside, proceed east to Interstate 15 south, exit at Via
Rancho Parkway and follow the signs to the Park. From Interstate 15 (Riverside), exit at Via
Rancho Parkway and follow the signs east to the Park.
Hours: The Wild Animal Park
is open 365 days a year. General admission with parking is around $30
(give or take a few) but you must call the park to get the
current admission prices and hours of operation.
Photo Caravan Tours and the Wgasa Bush Line Railway, a
five mile, 55 minute guided tour takes guests
to the remote Africa and Asia enclosures. Preferred Boarding -- Why
wait in line for the train? On busy days preferred
boarding is now available. Purchase a special preferred boarding passage
to the Wgasa Bush Line Railway and board the next train out.
close and personal to Lions,
Flamingos, Giraffes and a host of exotic
birds and wild animals.
Watch the playful Meerkats but
be warned! The cute little critters are
addictive to watch.
Shows at the park include bird shows,
lion shows, elephant shows and dancers and drum rhythms from unique,
costumed performers. The shows are entertaining, as are the exhibits and
educational opportunities. Not just entertaining, however, guests are
given soft doses of environmentally-friendly recommended practices for
helping conserve and assist diminishing lands for many animals that are
becoming extinct and found only in places such as San Diego's Wild
Animal Park. www.sandiegozoo.org
15500 San Pasqual Valley
Road, Escondido CA Info: 760-747-8702.