Animal Conservation & the San Diego Zoo

Are you wild about wildebeests or crazy for cockatoos? If fur and feathers, scales and fins are just your thing, then the San Diego Zoo is somewhere you'd love. San Diego is an amazing city known for a lot of incredible attractions, drawing thousands of tourists and new residents every day, but the zoo is one of the things it's most famous for. Celebrated as one of the world's greatest zoos, it's not just about providing a space for visitors to see creatures from all over the world up close. The San Diego Zoo is also about saving species and preserving the habitats in which they live.

History of the Zoo

The San Diego Zoo was created all the way back in 1916 in southern California. Today, the zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals and 800 different species! That makes the San Diego Zoo one of the largest collectors of exotic and endangered species, from mammals to reptiles to birds, in the world. The zoo also hosts more than 6,500 different types of exotic plants, allowing many of the animals to live in environments quite similar to their native habitats and to eat a diet similar to what they would enjoy in their original home. In addition to providing a safe and comfy home for the animals and plants in their care, though, the folks at the San Diego Zoo are leading the way in animal conservation, protecting threatened and endangered species and habitats all around the world.

Conservation Efforts

Did you know that scientists estimate that more than 200 species of birds, mammals, plants, and insects go extinct, or die out, every single day? Some of the world's most amazing and beautiful creatures, from the elephant to the cheetah, may not survive for much longer without help. That means that future generations, maybe even your own children, might never get to see the stunning big cats or rhinos that we take for granted today. Thankfully, the San Diego Zoo is leading the way in animal, plant, and habitat conservation. Conservation programs help protect animals and the places they live from harm, usually as a result of humans taking over the animals' natural habitat. Conservationists also study plant and animal species to try to figure out what they need to stay healthy and happy. Sometimes, just like humans, plants and animals get sick, and conservationists work to figure out what is happening when a sickness affects an entire group of plants or animals so that a treatment can be found. And when animals need help having babies of their own, conservationists use science and veterinary medicine to help so that the species survives long into the future. Because of the efforts of the San Diego Zoo and its partners, countless species have been rescued from the verge of extinction already.

What Does a Zoologist Do?

If you love everything about animals, you don't just have to settle for visiting the San Diego Zoo. You might someday find yourself working there as a zoologist! A zoologist is a type of scientist dedicated to learning about different types of animals and caring for them. Zoologists study everything from the way animals live to what they eat and how they take care of their young. In fact, zoologists often do the same type of work that conservationists do, putting their animal know-how to work to protect entire species and their habitats. This can range from treating animal colonies when sickness strikes to using cutting-edge science to discover ways to increase the population of endangered species.

Animals at the Zoo

Maybe the most exciting thing about the San Diego Zoo is just how many different types of animals you can find there. The San Diego Zoo is home to mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. If you're into koalas, the zoo has a breeding colony that is world-famous; you may even get to see a baby koala riding on its mother's back as they munch eucalyptus leaves, their favorite meal! Or if you are more into creepy, crawly kinds of critters, then you have to check out the reptile and amphibian collections. The zoo is home to many species of snakes, lizards, frogs, and tortoises, from the mighty anaconda to the leaf-tailed gecko. Or maybe you would rather watch a bright-winged bird soaring high into the clouds. The San Diego Zoo has those too, from the vibrant toucan to the chattering kookaburra.