The Santa Barbara Zoo reopened on January 30 with the health and safety of guests, employees, and animals a top priority. All guests must purchase a ticket online in advance and attendance is capped to facilitate social distancing. As an outdoor activity, the zoo is a great way to spend the day learning, laughing, and exploring. This zoo is the perfect size and people love it so much they have rehearsal dinners and weddings there.
Want to get a quick lay of the land? Hop on the train. Grab a seat on one of two C.P. Huntington trains to circle the zoo. Make note of the location of your favorite animals so you can visit them first. The train also provides the opportunity to discover some new animal friends to seek on your trip.
The Masai giraffes are a favorite animal of the zoo. The giraffe feeding experience is currently open. Just imagine feeling the tongue of a majestic animal that is 17 feet tall and weighs 2,700 pounds. Masai giraffes are an endangered species and the zoo is part of an extensive breeding program. Eight giraffes have been born at the zoo since 2012. Fun fact: the neck of a giraffe is much longer than the neck of a human but both have the same number of vertebrae in their necks. Definitely don’t miss a chance to see Audrey, Michael, Adia, and Twiga (which translates to “giraffe” in Swahili). After you leave the zoo you can “visit” with the giraffes again while driving along Cabrillo Boulevard because the giraffes are visible from the road.
Of course, giraffes are not the only animals that live at this zoo. Visitors can see 146 species of mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects. The Santa Barbara Zoo houses more than 500 animals. Challenge your travel companions at the end of the day by seeing who can list the most animals seen that day. Maybe one of these will become your new favorite:
- Giant Anteater: Did you know they can eat up to 35,000 ants and termites in one day. They are good swimmers and have an amazing sense of smell. The zookeepers will bury their old shoes under the exhibit. The anteaters dig them up to investigate the smells that the shoes have collected throughout the zoo.
- Radiated Tortoise: The three tortoises at the zoo were all hatched in 1997. They like to follow the zookeepers around to get shell scratches.
- Humboldt Penguin: Native to South America, their natural climate is much like Santa Barbara’s. One way to tell the penguins apart is by looking at the “freckles” on their chest.
- Western Lowland Gorilla: Male gorillas in the wild join bachelor troops until they are old enough to start their own family. The zoo is home to two bachelors who will be ready to be troop leaders in 5 to 10 years.
A day at this zoo is more than just a fun way to see animals. The Santa Barbara Zoo is accredited and participates in a Species Survival Plan (SSP). These plans aim to sustain captive populations while maintaining genetic diversity. They are also an important factor in preventing extinction. Visitors to the Santa Barbara Zoo also play an important part in supporting conservation efforts such as the California Condor Recovery Program and Island Fox Recovery.
Insider tip: Depending on how many people are in your party, you may want to compare the cost of a day pass with the cost of an annual pass.