Your all-in-one guide to the San Antonio Zoo

From up-close-and-personal animal encounters to a greenhouse filled with wonder and butterflies, this is your guide to one of the Alamo City’s most famous attractions.


Make a visit to the San Antonio Zoo and discover one of the city’s best attractions.

Photo by Nicholas Caballero, SATXtoday

Grab your safari hats + binoculars and get ready to hop on the zoo train, because this is your all-in-one guide to to the San Antonio Zoo. But first, a quick history lesson.

The beginning of the San Antonio Zoo

Pop quiz: Do you know the original residents of the San Antonio Zoo? If you guessed buffalo, elk, deer, monkeys, two lions, and four bears, then you are correct. These animals were donated back in 1914 and thus began the era of the zoo in Brackenridge Park.

Fred Stark San Antonio Zoo

San Antonio native Fred Stark (pictured above) started as the bird curator in 1927, and became director of the zoo in 1929. He oversaw the completion of additional animal habitats and breeding programs until his death in 1967.

Photo courtesy of UTSA Special Collections

The 50-acre parcel of land on the city’s north side is now home to more than 800 species of animals — some of which are endangered or extinct in the wild. In addition to being a world-class attraction, the zoo is home to a nature-based preschool, the Will Smith Zoo school (not to be confused with the Fresh Prince), and the Center for Conservation and Research at the San Antonio Zoo.

The San Antonio Zoological Society contributes to over 245 conservation projects worldwide, honoring the organization’s mission.

Attractions you can enjoy right now

Before we dig into the fantastic future the zoo is planning, here are some of the amazing experiences you can add on to your visit right now.

A giraffe on the left, with a person in a green zoo shirt on the left and on the far left a rusty red tortoise.

Feed the giraffes or get up close with a tortoise, which would would you choose?

Photo by Nicholas Caballero, SATXtoday

  • Behind-the-Scenes: Aldabra Tortoise | $39.99 per person | Guests have the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with these slow vibing creatures. City Editor Nicholas recently got to pet the Aldbara Tortoise on his visit. Did you know a tortoise’s skin feels like leather?
  • Giraffe Feeding | $5 per person | Get ready to meet Alan, Brayden, and Cosmo, the San Antonio Zoo’s trio of giraffes. Visitors can feed these long-necked creatures their favorite snacks — sticks and lettuce. Your trusty zoo ambassador (like Virginia Shields pictured above) will guide you through the whole process.
  • The John and Greli Less Butterfly Rainforest | $4 per person | A trip to the zoo isn’t complete without seeing Timothy the Hippo and stopping by this butterfly house. Watch as beautiful pollinators of all shapes and sizes fly overhead and learn about the zoo’s conservation efforts.

These just scratch the surface of what guests can add to their visit. Take a look at the full list.

What’s to come in 2024...

Since 2014, the organization has added $115 million in upgrades consisting of improved guest experiences, a gorgeous new entrance, expanded animal enclosures, and becoming a sensory-inclusive space for all visitors. The best part? They’re not done. Here’s what San Antonians + tourist have to look forward to this year.

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Glamp with giraffes at the new Spekboom Lodge at the San Antonio Zoo, coming later in 2024.

Rendering courtesy of the San Antonio Zoo

  • Expanded savanna habitat | Opening later in 2024 | This expansion project will add 126%-more space for the diverse African animals that call the zoo home.
  • Spekboom Lodge | Opening later in 2024 | As part of the savanna expansion, this fresh addition will allow guests to rent a private lodge for an overnight stay. Bunking with giraffes? Sign us up.

...and beyond

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Gorillas will make a return to San Antonio in 2025.

Rendering courtesy of the San Antonio Zoo

  • Congo Falls | Opening in 2025 | This two-acre habitat will bring gorillas back to the zoo for the first time since 1990. It will also feature the Mays Family Silverback Peak, a 60-foot gorilla tower that connects to the new event center, called The Ralston, and allows the gorillas a skyline view of the Alamo City.

From education, animal encounters, to worldwide conservation, the San Antonio Zoo is not done with its many upgrades and additions. As the zoo is transformed into a world-class tourist destination for animal lovers, there are plenty of experiences locals and visitors can enjoy year-round. What are you waiting for? Grab your tickets today.

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