San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium

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San Antonio Zoo
Date opened 1914
Location 3903 N. St. Mary's Street
San Antonio, Texas, USA
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Land area 35 acres (14 ha)[1]
Number of animals 3,500+
Number of species 750
Annual visitors 1,100,000+[1]
Memberships AZA[2]
The San Antonio Zoo Eagle train carries visitors throughout Brackenridge Park.
Several refreshment outlets, including Crossroads Café, are available at the San Antonio Zoo.
A carousel nearing completion was scheduled to open in 2014 in the San Antonio Zoo.
Desert plant and terrain exhibit at San Antonio Zoo

The San Antonio Zoological Gardens and Aquarium is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoo in Midtown San Antonio, Texas, United States. The 35-acre (14 ha) zoo has a collection of over 3,500 animals representing 750 species. The zoo's annual attendance exceeds 1,000,000. It also runs non-animal attractions, such as the 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge San Antonio Zoo Eagle train ride, which first opened in 1956 and utilizes three Chance Rides C.P. Huntington locomotives.[3]

The Richard Friedrich Aquarium was opened in 1948.[4]


What is now known as the San Antonio Zoo began in 1914 when Colonel George Washington Brackenridge, one of the city's leading citizens, placed bison, deer, monkeys, African lions, and bears on land he had deeded to the city. The land became Brackenridge Park and Golf Course.

The San Antonio Zoo opened two of the first cageless exhibits in the United States in November 1929 that offered visitors views of the animals not available in caged exhibits. The Richard Friedrich Aquarium was dedicated in 1948, and the Hixon Bird House, funded through the efforts of Colonel Frederick C. Hixon, opened in 1966. The zoo's bird collection is now one of the world's largest.

The San Antonio Zoo housed the first herd of addra gazelle in captivity in 1969 and continues to be active in the breeding program for this critically endangered species. Due to the former hoofstock quarantine point in San Antonio, the San Antonio Zoo has historically had a wide variety of hoofstock species.

The zoo is involved in breeding a number of endangered species including black rhino, leopard, golden lion tamarin, dama gazelle, Attwater's prairie chicken, black mangabey, African lion, black-footed ferret, Komodo dragon, Andean condor, and Caribbean flamingos.

The zoo recently opened Phase II of the Africa Live project. Phase I brought a new exhibit for hippos with underwater viewing area and one for new Nile crocodiles as well as many other smaller animals. Phase II contains Angolan colobus monkeys, okapi, African hunting dogs, rock hyrax, and various species of birds contained in the second largest aviary in the world. On June 18, 2013, a two-headed turtle, along with three one-headed turtles hatched. The two-headed turtle was later named Thelma and Louise after the 1991 film. Thelma and Louise later died on July 29, 2014, from unknown causes.


Africa Live!

A hippopotamus comes up for air at his abode in the San Antonio Zoo.

Africa Live! is the San Antonio Zoo's newest exhibit. Consisting of three phases, Phase I and Phase II are complete, while Phase III has yet to start construction. Africa Live! gives guests a chance to experience Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi. Guests can observe the hippopotamus, Nile crocodile, and African cichlids through underwater viewing windows. Also found in Africa Live! are Angola colobus, okapi, African wild dog, rock hyrax, Wolf's mona monkey, and various species of birds.

Phase III of Africa Live will consist of new or remodeled exhibits for African elephants, zebra, giraffes, and rhinoceros.

African Plains

African Plains takes visitors through a rocky, arid expanse, backed by natural limestone walls. African Plains hosts a number of animals including zebra, ostrich, topi, marabou stork, and various antelope.


Amazonia houses the zoo's South American plants and animals. The zoo's main waterway makes up a large portion of Amazonia. The open flight deck allows guests to enter the exhibit and observe scarlet ibis, among other birds, the family of spider monkeys, giant anteaters, and purchase food to feed tilapia.

Several cats, including the jaguar and ocelot are located within Amazonia. The exhibit is also home to New World monkeys including tamarins, marmosets, capuchin monkeys, and sakis. Other animals include anaconda, armadillos, sloths, bats, and the Andean condor.

Cat Grotto

A cave-like area for visitors to walk through. It houses the zoo's smaller cats, such as a fishing cat, black-footed cat, clouded leopard, and a caracal. As well as a few mammals that look similar to cats: ringtail, fossa, and a northern treeshrew.

Cranes of the World

The zoo contains whooping cranes, blue cranes, Manchurian cranes, and the hooded crane. The exhibit is a lush environment constructed on the existing waterway that allows guests to be immersed in the cranes' habitat. It is an opportunity that is becoming increasingly rare in the wild.

Gibbon Forest

Spanning the quarry wall is the zoo's white-cheeked gibbon exhibit. With plenty of ropes to swing on, they stay high above, while below a family of Oriental small-clawed otters plays in the river.

Hixon Bird House

A fully enclosed circular building, with glass-fronted enclosures displaying a wide variety of bird species from all over the world. In the middle of the rotunda is a small island planted with trees and shrubs, and containing a small pond. The free-flight birds stay here, and sometimes venture out into the open to explore.

Nature Spot

Richard Friedrich Aquarium

Rift Valley

Visitors head straight from African Plains to Rift Valley. Walking uphill, the zoo displays large animals such as white rhinoceros and cheetah, as well as smaller animals such as dik-dik, duiker, and a bateleur eagle. As you head back down, you'll come across more antelopes, warthogs, and the lions.


A building housing the zoo's amphibian collection, including frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians.



Lemur at the San Antonio Zoo





See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Zoo Facts: San Antonio Zoo". San Antonio Zoo. Retrieved 6 May 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 6 May 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. San Antonio Zoo - Zoo Train
  4. "Exhibits at the San Antonio Zoo." San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium. Retrieved on January 15, 2009.

External links