Skip to content

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Timeline

This timeline documents the 100+ year history of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, from the Zoo’s inception in 1916 after the Panama-California Exposition, to the founding of the Safari Park, and beyond.

*Pardon our dust! Links to archival sources are still being updated.

SDZWA History Timeline

1916 · 1920 · 1930 · 1940 · 1950 · 1960 · 1970 · 1980 · 1990 · 2000 · 2010

SDZWA History Timeline



  • Drs. Harry Wegeforth, Paul Wegeforth, Fred Baker, Joseph C. Thompson and naturalist Frank Stephens hold their first organizational meeting. 10/02/1916
  • One of San Diego Zoo’s first animals arrives: “Caesar” (photo), Kodiak bear. 11/1916. Died 9/12/1936.
  • Articles of incorporation are submitted to the city, park commission, and state. They are duly executed on 12/11/1916. Dr. Wegeforth is president of the Society. (Related article).


  • Founding of the “Junior Zoo” by W.H. Porterfield of the San Diego Sun.
  • Frank Stephens serves as active director of the Zoo. Society assumes responsibility for care of all animals in Balboa Park. Zoo consists of a line of cages along Park Boulevard.
  • A Grizzly bear is incorporated into the Society’s official seal. (Used until 1955 and was changed because the Grizzly became extinct in California.) 2/17/1917
  • Jack Hendee appointed first superintendent. 5/11/1917
  • First lion cubs born; “Faith”, “Hope”, and “Charity”. 9/17/1917
  • Zoo membership is available at $5 per membership.


  • Society enters legal agreement with City of San Diego transferring ownership of all animals, equipment and property to the City in return for jurisdiction over a permanent zoo site (not yet designated).


  • First pair of zoo-born lion cubs are sold to the city of Seattle.

Return to Top



  • Pits are built for the bears along Park Boulevard (across from Indian Village). Completed with cement floors in 1921 with funds from the City Council.
  • Standard Oil Company and Combined Harvester Company donate their Exposition buildings to the Zoo.
  • First organized membership campaign carried on during last months of the year.


  • Zoo’s current site is approved by Board of Park Commissioners (140 acres). Nathanial Slaymaker, city planner, draws up plans. Ellen Browning Scripps donates $9,000 for fence. Formal dedication is held. Fall/1921


  • First staff hired: John L. Bacon, engineer; T.N. Faulconer, secretary; Benjamin F. Tyler, legal counsel; N.E. Slaymaker, landscape architect; L.J. Gill, architect; Robert Mears, superintendent of animals; W.H. Raymenton, director of gardens; G.E. Chase, director of works.
  • Lower Otay Dam is sited in the canyon north of the Reptile House. The lake that results housed aquatic birds and fresh water fish.
  • Barrett Dam is constructed to create a pool for seals; Morena Dam creates a pool for alligators.
  • Architect Louis J. Gill redesigns the International Harvester Building from the Panama Exposition to serve as Reptile House and Zoo entry. Finished 4/1922.
  • First curator of reptiles is Laurence M. Klauber (President of SDG&E and consultant to the Society); serves until 1931.
  • First Guadalupe fur seals arrive. (First live specimens to arrive in the United States. Brought from Baja by a local fisherman.) “Mrs. Silvergate”, another Guadalupe fur seal, washes ashore at Ocean Beach and is added to the collection. 4/30/1922. Article cites early conservation efforts.
  • First cage that will house an African leopard is donated by the Hotel-Men’s Association. 7/14/1922.
  • Barless animal grottos (Related article).


  • Zoo’s grand opening: 10 cent admission for adult non-members. Children free. Entrance is through the Reptile House (the International Harvester Building from the 1915-1916 Exposition). 1/1/1923.
  • Intense development of zoo infrastructure, mission and collection. (Related article).
  • First lion grotto constructed: “Prince“, “Julia”, and “Sara” have a new home thanks to Ellen B. Scripps’ donation. 4/1923 (Demolished in 1999 to build Douc Langur enclosure.)
  • First Asian elephants, “Empress” and “Queenie”, arrive from Bombay Lumber Co., via Frank Buck. Dr. Wegeforth and Harry Edwards ride the elephants from the Santa Fe Depot to the Zoo. 5/20/1923
  • Frank Buck, “Bring ’em back alive”, signs a three-year contract as Zoo director. Three months later he is fired and sues the Zoo. 6/13/1923
  • Tom Faulconer (Park Board secretary) accepts the Directorship of the Zoo. 6/13/1923.
  • Two dromedary camels (one hump), “Turk” and “Scar”, received from the Lasky Film Corp. One Bactrian camel, “Dick”, received from Ringling Circus. 6/24/1923
  • First elephant seal arrives. 7/20/1923
  • Scripps’ flight cage for shore and wading birds (then the tallest in the world: 82′ high, 150′ long, 74’3″ wide at one end and 62′ at the other). Built at a cost of $15,000. Located on the south side of Primate Mesa. Dedicated 9/8/1923. (photo)
  • Mr. & Mrs. P.F. O’Rourke purchase the Nevada State Building. They pay to move it and the Standard Oil Building to Zoo grounds for use as the Children’s Education Center and Junior Zoological Society departments. Planned completion is Christmas, 1923.
  • First American alligators in the Zoo, donated by General Terry.
  • First Malayan sun bear on exhibit, “Sunny”. 12/02/1923


  • Free elephant rides for children begin on New Year’s Day. Discontinued 2/17/1924.
  • Tibetan yaks arrive. 1/20/1924
  • Camels “Turk” and “Scar” give birth to “Sheik.”
  • First column of Zoonooz appears in the San Diego Sun, written by W.B. France.
  • Harry Wegeforth organizes other zoo directors to exchange information and animals. The organization is called the National Association of Zoological Executives. It is an affiliate of the American Institute of Park Directors and eventually becomes AAZPA in 1966 (a branch of the National Recreation and Park Association). 4/16/1924
  • Zoo expands to 150 acres.
  • New Bear Grotto completed; houses 5 bears—Kodiak, Black bear, Cinnamon, Himalayan and Malayan Sun bear. Funded by Ellen B. Scripps. 7/20/1924 (Related article).
  • First Leopard Grotto completed. Home to “Sappho” and “St. Elmo”. Financed by John Burnham. 8/1924
  • Double Tiger Grotto constructed. First exhibit of Sumatran tigers. Gift of Ellen B. Scripps. Ground breaking 8/28/1924, completed 11/23/1924.
  • First chimpanzees “Nina” and “Bondo” arrive as gifts from Ralph Granger. 3/24/1924
  • First concession stand run by Maude R. Scott on July 4th.


  • First snake roundup – $100 in prizes awarded for capturing snakes for the Zoo.
  • John Spreckles finances a trip to Australia for Zoo Director Tom Faulconer. Koalas “Snugglepot” and “Cuddlepie” are presented as gifts to the children of San Diego from the children of Sydney. (Marks the first foreign exchange. Other animals include: 40 kangaroos, 6 emus, wombats, dingoes, phalangers, birds of paradise, and an echidna.) 1/28/1925
  • “King Tut”, a salmon-crested (Moluccan) cockatoo, arrives in San Diego 5/25/1925 via Frank Buck. Named official greeter 2/19/1951. Dies in 1990.
  • Belle Benchley hired as temporary bookkeeper. 10/19/1925.


  • “Sally”, a Cinnamon bear (Ursus americanus), is flown from Rifle, Colorado to San Diego Zoo. Touted as “First Bear to Fly.”
  • First issue of Zoonooz published by the San Diego Zoo. W.B. France grants Zoo the full title to the palindrome coined for his newspaper copy. 10 cents a copy, free to members. Jan/Feb/1926
  • “Sheik” the camel stars in a Hollywood movie “Beau Geste”. Also appeared in “Ben Hur”. (photo).
  • First 2 buses (Model T made by Powell Motor Co.) donated by Miss Anne Zimmerman (retired school teacher) to transport underprivileged children to the Zoo. She also suggests giving one-hour tours on weekends and holidays for 25 cent fee. (photo).
  • 4 large artificial rock cliffs are constructed for mountain goats on Deer Mesa.
  • Flood results in first major escape (a tiger, mountain lion, and California sea lions). The enclosures cave in when heavy rains wash out the Zoo’s dams and canyon grottoes. California sea lions invade the San Diego Sun’s offices and the San Diego Police station. 4/25/1926
  • Zoo received special appropriation from the City.
  • P.F. O’Rourke resigns from Board of Directors. Denies gift of building to the Society and incorporates his own institution. (Related article).
  • $50,000 donated by Ellen B. Scripps for research hospital. Building is begun. Completed in 1927. 
  • Second unit of Deer Paddocks finished.


  • South Gate opened. Entrance fee is raised from 10 cents to 25 cents. All servicemen in uniform admitted for free.
  • Hospital and Biological Research Institute designed by Louis J. Gill and funded by Ellen B. Scripps is dedicated. Dr. Abart takes over animal care from city veterinarian, Dr. Foelschow, who previously donated his services. 4/17/1927
  • Board adopts operating practice used by London Zoo: Executive Secretary working under Board of Directors.
  • Belle J. Benchley is appointed Executive Secretary with control of operations. July/1927. (photo).
  • The sailing ship “Star of India” is donated by James W. Coffroth to the Zoological Society for a maritime museum and first unit of a proposed aquarium. (Related article).
  • Second Australian expedition successfully completed.
  • South Gate opened.
  • Warehouse burns but all building are insured.
  • Elk Lodge donates money for a large elk pasturage.
  • Pools cemented.
  • Large parrot cage built. Peccary pen and warthog pens built.


  • S.C. Charles is hired as keeper and first trainer for sea lions. Johnny Zolezzi supplies the Zoo with sea lions for $25 each (a quarter of the average price). The Society uses this resource to financially assure the Zoo’s survival. Shows begin.
  • First black forest cobra “Old Black” on exhibit; lived at Zoo for 29 years, still holds the longevity record in captivity.
  • 30 Galapagos tortoises exhibited at the Zoo. 180 collected by Dr. Charles Townsend of the New York Aquarium from the south of Isla Isabela in the Galapagos Archipelago. (photo).
  • Maggie” and “Jiggs” (two young orangs) arrive from Asia.
  • Second warehouse and implement shed built.
  • Elephant pool built.


  • First California condor donated to Zoo by Mr. & Mrs. Keith Spalding (bird was discovered with a crippled wing on Rancho Sespe).
  • First Andean condor, “Bum”, arrives from Hazenbeck, Germany. 6/9/1929
  • First Electus parrot, “Sassy Susie”, at the Society and in the U.S. (Related article).
  • Birth of Bengal tiger triplets. 11/28/1929

Return to Top



  • Queenie” the elephant radio interview – KFSD. 11/01/1930.
  • Collection expands via importing animals and successful breeding (Related article).
  • Housing, cages and grottos expand and modernize
  • Expedition to Guadalupe. (Related article).


  • First collecting trip to the Galapagos Islands. A female and a baby fur seal are brought back. First captive birth is in 1934.
  • First gorillas arrive. “Mbongo” and “N’gagi” captured by Martin and Osa Johnson. Although the purpose of capture was “scientific study and breeding”, both were found to be males. ($11,000 donated by Ellen Scripps Browning and Robert P. Scripps.) 10/5/1931. (Related article).
  • Expeditions; collection expansion; diplomacy (Related article).


  • Dr. Schroeder employed as Zoo veterinarian / pathologist (1932-1937). He serves as veterinarian for the Bronx Zoo in 1938 but returns in 1939. Second tenure: 1939-1941. Becomes Zoo Director in 1954.
  • First Binturong, “Benny”, born in captivity. 7/01/1932.
  • County Assessor taxes the Zoo $100,000 and attempts to sell animals and property at auction when Zoo defaults. With no bidders the Zoo is declared the property of the State. The State refuses to accept and City Council declares the auction illegal.



  • City of San Diego passes a proposition that allows the Zoo to receive 2 cents from every $100 collected in property taxes.
  • A family of four sloth bears arrive from Brazil. 6/25/1934
  • First Baird’s tapir, “Mickey” – a female, arrives from Ecuador. 7/04/1934
  • For a map of the zoo, c. 1934, click here.


  • Milton Leeper hired as Zoo’s first garden supervisor.
  • Pribilof fur seal arrives.
  • Expidition to bring two Northern Elephant seals from Guadalupe Island, Mexico to the San Diego zoo. Research and conservation. (Related article).


  • First recorded animal death from Coccidioidomycosis (a fungal disease) – a tropical American monkey. This is the same disease that kills Mbongo in 1942.
  • Grizzly bears born. 1/08/1936.
  • First Galapagos albatross. 1/20/1936
  • First Gray mangabey for the Zoo and first for the U.S.
  • First Babirusa and first Sambar deer. June/1936
  • Construction begun on new Reptile House (still in use) and Elephant Barn. International Harvester Building becomes a cafe.
  • Wegeforth Bowl and Fern Canyon landscaping begun (WPA Projects).
  • “Puddles” the hippo (born at the Brookfield Zoo 7/8/1935) arrives. First time a hippo is exhibited in a Pacific Coast zoo. 8/19/1936


  • A second flight cage, originally called “the Great Eagle cage”, is built to house birds of prey on the north side of Primate Mesa. It is the world’s largest bird cage of its time. (This aviary is later expanded and converted to a walk-through tropical rain forest aviary.) Dedicated 03/07/1937
  • Reptile Mesa is completed with outdoor pits, a Galapagos tortoise enclosure, land tortoise pens and pools for alligators and crocs.
  • First emu hatching.


  • Two giraffes arrive, “Lofty” and “Patches”.
  • First zoo concessions manager hired.
  • First spectacled bears received. 3/11/1938


  • Zoo begins collaborative education program with San Diego schools.

Return to Top



  • First cheetah arrives, “Bong”.
  • Hippos “Rube” and “Rubie” arrive.
  • Belle Benchley publishes My Life in a Man Made Jungle.
  • First Bornean orangutan arrives, “Bujang”.
  • First Zoo lectures, “Caesar, the Kodiak bear“, by Commander J.C. Thompson.
  • First Lesser pandas arrive, reproduce in 1941.
  • First De Brazza’s guenons arrive. First offspring June/1945.
  • First Zoo summer school program is begun.


  • Dr. Harry Wegeforth dies at the age of 59. (1/07/1882 – 6/25/1941)
  • Dr. Charles Schroeder resigns at the Zoo’s Veterinary Pathologist to become assistant Director to the Veterinary Department of Lederle Lab (4/15/1941). Returns to Zoo as Director in 1954.
  • Dr. Frank D. McKenney takes over from Dr. Charles Schroeder as Zoo’s Veterinary Pathologist. 6/1941
  • WWII: Zoo plants its own vegetables in Mission Valley to save money during the war years.


  • First number drawn by Selective Services belongs to a young Zoo employee, Howard Lee. The publicity given Lee’s leaving his job was carried all over the world.
  • First jungle fowl turned loose in the Zoo.
  • First Andean condor hatched in captivity in U.S. [First in the world in 1939 at the Royal Zoological Society in Amsterdam.] 7/08/1942
  • Mbongo, one of two gorillas who arrived in 1931, dies from Coccidioides immitis, a fungal infection.


  • First hippo born at the Zoo – “Rubie” gives birth to “Lotus”. 10/30/1943.


  • First captive bred cobra hatches at the Zoo.


  • Radio station KSDJ and the San Diego Zoo begin a series of Tuesday evening shows called “Animal Kingdom”, featuring brief and unrehearsed discussions of natural history. (Zoo participants are Jacqueline Schermerhorn, C.B. Perkins, and Ken Stott.)
  • New birds at the Zoo: Paradise rifle birds, quetzals, ocellated turkeys.
  • New mammals at the Zoo: Blesbuck, Greater kudu, Bennett’s wallaby, white-headed saki


  • First artificial insemination of ocellated turkey in the U.S., fourteen hatched.
  • First captive breeding of the Aruba Island rattlesnake.
  • Giant salamander “Hon Honsaki” arrives from Japan; grows to be 5′ long.
  • New birds at the Zoo: Burmeister’s cariama and a pair of crested screamers.
  • Construction of new buffalo enclosure: one section for African water buffaloes and another for American bison. Old Buffalo Pastures are remodeled for moose (first time at the Zoo).
  • New flamingo pool built in corner of Zoo.
  • A dam is constructed across the lower drainage basin. The reservoir holds approximately 500,000 gallons of water and is used for irrigation purposes.
  • Balboa Park miniature railroad opens near Zoo entrance. Half mile ride costs 9 cents for children, 15 cents for adults. 11/13/1948


  • “Albert”, “Bouba”, and “Bata” arrive; first time three gorillas are raised together. 8/10/1949
  • First snow fall in San Diego in 99 years; coincides with arrival of first snow leopards (one dies shortly after arrival due to a parasitic infection). Believed to be only snow leopard in captivity. 1/21/1949
  • Belle Benchley begins term as AAZPA president, 1949-1950.

Return to Top



  • First Dr. Harry Wegeforth Day, admission is free! After 1955, known as “Founder’s Day”. 10/01/1950
  • Public Relations department established at the Zoo.
  • First captive breeding of Northern fur seal.
  • First zoo hatching of Florida sandhill crane.
  • Terracing and construction of retaining wall in the Small Mammal Canyon.


  • King Tut“, a salmon-crested cockatoo, is donated by Mrs. I.D. Putnam of La Mesa and named Official Greeter. 2/19/1951
  • “Behind the Scenes at the Zoo”, KFMB weekly television program, begins airing. 9/22/1951
  • First Hawaiian monk seal to enter and be exhibited in the Continental U.S. (died same year).


  • Four koala arrive from Sydney (on loan to Paramount Studios for their film “Botany Bay”); later gifted to the Zoo by NSW
  • First black rhinoceros “Sally” (born in Kenya 1950), arrives from East Africa.
  • 10 new cages for Bird of paradise exhibit.
  • First tuatara arrives from New Zealand. San Diego, Brookfield, Bronx, and London Zoos each receive one reptile. 11/02/1952


  • Belle Benchley‘s last day as managing director, retires after 26 years. Designated by City and County as “Belle J. Benchley Day”. Testimonial dinner at Balboa Park Club. 12/10/1953
  • George Pournelle is hired as Curator of Mammals. Serves until his death. 9/01/1972


  • Dr. Charles Schroeder (veterinarian/pathologist who began at the Zoo in 1932), assumes directorship and serves for 19 years until 1972. 1/01/1954
  • International Harvester Building from 1915 Exposition is torn down and replaced by a new entrance. A restaurant is on the right and administration building on the left. Turnstiles are installed. (Donald W. Campbell architect) 5/22/1954
  • Mirror Pool is replaced by new dryer Flamingo Lagoon. New home to 22 American and Chilean flamingos. Formal dedication 7/28/1954.
  • First captive breeding of Spectacled langurs and South American bush dogs.
  • First Kiwi arrives from New Zealand (only one in the Western Hemisphere). 12/08/1954
  • First two-headed snake exhibited in San Diego County, a banded C. King snake, “Dudley Duplex”.
  • City Council allocates 2 additional acres of Balboa Park land for proposed Children’s Zoo. 10/18/1954.


  • Zoorama, first San Diego Zoo live television show, begins weekly production. 1/09/1955
  • New corporate seal is designed by L.J. Schwenkenmeyer for the Society. The Northern elephant seal replaces the California grizzly bear corporate seal (in use since 1917). 1/1955
  • Tasmanian devils arrive from Sydney, Australia. 7/1955
  • First formal horticulturist, Timothy Aller, is hired.
  • City Parks & Recreation Department grants the zoo an additional 1.5 acres for the location of the Children’s Zoo


  • First Okapi arrives, gift from Belgian government in the Congo. 11/27/1956
  • A pair of proboscis monkeys are received from Indonesia, first to be successfully exhibited in the Western Hemisphere. 1/08/1956
  • Zoo takes its first safari through Central and East Africa.
  • Tasmanian devil grotto is dedicated. 7/15/1956
  • New bus station for guided tours.
  • First mud-mound nests built by flamingos


  • Zoological Society is granted IUCN membership
  • First captive hatching of Cassowaries at the Zoo (also first in U.S.) 4/1957
  • First flamingo chick hatched
  • $150,000 raised for Children’s Zoo. Design coordinator is Lloyd Ruocco, assisted by Charles Faust & Bil Noonan. Opens 6/30/1957.
  • New Zoo exit breezeway and gift shop. 2/09/1957
  • New animals: Emperor penguins, reticulated giraffe, Chinese alligator, flying snake, Hawaiian monk seal


  • First successful captive breeding of Kea at the Zoo (also first in U.S.) 5/1958
  • First Galapagos tortoise eggs (5) are discovered in their incubator. The eggs laid 2/16/1958; hatched 10/21/1958.
  • Penguin Pavilion opens. 7/1958
  • Scripps flight cage is transformed into a walk-through exhibit for shore and wading birds. New dimensions: 80′ wide, 95′ high, 115′ long.
  • Wegeforth Bowl remodel and addition of semi-circular pool.
  • Zoo receives the San Diego Zoo Convention & Tourist Bureau’s first tourism award.


  • Zoo receives 4 koalas (1 male, 2 females, and 1 joey in pouch) from NSW to establish a breeding colony. Installation of sanctuary and exhibit area.
  • Zoo receives two rare Kagus of New Caledonia listed in Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World from the U.S. Navy.
  • Dr. Schroeder begins term as AAZPA president.
  • Clark Children’s Theater added to the Children’s Zoo.
  • Toucan cage, Lath House, Turtletorium, 3-faced clock, sun dial, and stylized dual drinking fountain added to Children’s Zoo.
  • Construction of combination seal pool and dining terraces.
  • Conversion of Birds of paradise cages into walk-through exhibit.
  • Renovation of all enclosures in Stork and Crane Canyon.

Return to Top



  • Remodel of tortoise enclosure (5 Aldabra and 21 Galapagos).
  • Remodel of Harbor seal and elephant seal pools.
  • Five (5) hippos are moved from Elephant Mesa to new pools at bottom of Stork and Crane Canyon.
  • Iceberg-style Polar Bear Grotto opens. First inhabitants are “Frieda”, “Hilda”, and “Olaf” from Norway. Exhibit includes diving platform and slide. 12/03/1960
  • First koala birth in North America.
  • First rare Bonobo arrives from Africa, “Kakowet”. (Died 8/24/1980 a few months before his 21st birthday.) 12/1960


  • Zoo receives the AAZPA Edward Bean Award for first koala birth in Western Hemisphere.
  • First hatching in the Western Hemisphere of a Kookaburra. 4/11/1961
  • First Hawaiian geese arrive. 11/27/1961
  • Catch Basin created in 1948 is converted to Waterfowl Lagoon.


  • “Acoustiguide” 40-minute tape-recorded commentary is introduced. 12/23/1962
  • First Okapi born at Zoo. “Baruti” is 4th Okapi born in U.S. 2/8/1962
  • Formal opening of new and renovated exhibits on Ape and Bird Mesa. “Vila”, “Chuck”, “Trib” and “Yula” occupy one enclosure, “Albert”, “Bata”, and “Bouba” occupy another in the new Gorilla Grotto designed by Charles Faust. 6/08/1962.
  • Zoo hosts 17th annual meeting of the International Union of Directors of Zoological Parks. 9/30/1962-10/05/1962
  • Ape Grotto constructed between large flight cage for shore and wading birds and smaller enclosures for birds of prey. Renovation of cages for Gallinaceous birds and construction of 34 new small aviaries. Architect Charles Faust.
  • Zoo receives 2 rare square-lipped White rhinos from the Natal Parks Game and Fish Preservation Board (only 600 individuals remain). 9/08/1962
  • First Siberian tigers arrive. 9/11/1962
  • Giraffe enclosure (moated parabola with a 1,600 sq.ft. building and two exhibit yards) is completed on Horn & Hoof Mesa. Architect Homer Delawie; Contractors Callahan Brothers. 12/1962


  • “Lasai”, an Indian rhinoceros, arrives at the Zoo.
  • First Gila monster conceived and hatched in captivity. Received Bean Award. 11/1963.
  • Edward H. Bean Award for Galapagos tortoise births.
  • Conversion of all exhibits on Large Mammal Mesa to moated enclosures for elephants and rhinos. New elephant house.
  • Zoo receives a pair of Komodo dragons from Surabaja, Java. 8/14/1963
  • The Zoological Society and the Malagasy government establish a Lemur conservation program at the Zoo.


  • Zoo receives AAZPA Bean Award for hatching and rearing of rhinoceros iguana.
  • Hummingbird Aviary opens. Designed by Charles Faust. 10/2/1964
  • More than 50 construction projects completed: Tapir enclosure, incubator room in Bird Yard, Okapi enclosure extension, Orang and Chimp Grotto, Kiwi exhibit, renovated cat cages, fences replaced by moats on Horn and Hoof Mesa and Flamingo exhibit.
  • Zoo raises price to $7.50 per membership.


  • Wegeforth Bowl’s “Mickey” stars in the Walt Disney movie “Sammy the Way Out Seal”.
  • First Lowland gorilla “Alvila” is born, 16 years after “Albert” arrives; 7th Lowland gorilla born in captivity in the world. 6/03/1965
  • First Fijian banded iguanas at the Zoo.
  • First time any zoo has been awarded 3 Edward H. Bean Awards for the “Most Notable Animal Births in an American Zoo”: Reptiles (African soft-shelled tortoise, first hatching recorded in captivity), Birds (Thick-billed parrots, first recorded hatched in captivity, 09/08/1965), Mammals (first Proboscis monkey birth outside its native country of Borneo, 10/12/1965). Award presented on 10/13/1966.
  • 2 moated islands with playgrounds for Gibbons and Siamangs are constructed along with 5 Baboon enclosures in Old Ape Alley.
  • Zoo raises price to $10.00 per membership.
  • “African Plains” exhibits are created on Horn and Hoof Mesa.
  • Great Ape Grotto completed.
  • “Boo Boo” (female Sun bear) is discharged from the U.S. Navy and officially takes up residence in the Children’s Zoo. 12/29/1965


  • A small scale model of the Elephant Enclosure opens in Children’s Zoo. 2/17/1966.
  • First Gold Elephant Seal Conservation medals are awarded at AAZPA conference in San Diego (to Jean Delacour, Edward Hallstrom and Fairfield Osborn). 2/1966
  • First 2 female Przewalski’s horses arrive from Catskill Game Farm in New York. 6/1966.
  • First Pygmy chimpanzee birth in the U.S. “Linette”. 8/08/1966
  • 6 more Gold Elephant Seal Conservation medals awarded (Harold Coolidge, Majian Grimwood, Dr. Boonsong Lekagul, Perez Olindo, Ian Player and Peter M. Scott). Fall/1966
  • Zoo hosts landmark world conference on “The Role of Zoos in International Conservation of Wild Animals”. Charles Faust designs condor pin for all participants. 10/1966
  • Elmer Otto Center dedicated, Zoo’s 50th birthday. 12/02/1966


  • Seven zoo keepers (Dick Sweeney, Gerald “Red” Thomas, Conrad Grayson, Dennis Melvin, Ken Willingham, Carl Pyle and Walt Bromley) begin the San Diego Zoo Keepers’ Association (which eventually becomes AAZK). 12/16/1967
  • First wattled cranes arrive. 4/13/1967


  • Nursery for Galapagos tortoises is formally dedicated. 4/23/1968
  • First U.S. breeding of Superb bird of paradise. Born 6/24/1968; Died 11/20/1973.
  • Douc langurs arrive. 6/26/1968
  • Skyfari groundbreaking. 10/11/1968


  • Inauguration of Skyfari aerial tram, spans approximately 1,800′ of Zoo canyons and mesas. 3/20/1969
  • First Przewalski’s horse born, “Bolinda”. 4/08/1969
  • New kiwi enclosure (first SDZ nocturnal exhibit) dedicated. 6/18/1969
  • First year with 3 million attendance. Admission is $1.50 for adults, kids free.
  • Zoo increases membership cost to $12.50.
  • Society president Anderson Borthwick signs agreement with Mayor Frank Curran to establish wildlife preserve on San Diego City land. Ground breaking for development of 1,800 acres leased by the San Diego Zoo for development of a “natural environment zoo” in San Pasqual. 5/14/1969

Return to Top



  • Joan Embery, Children’s Zoo attendant, is announced as the second Miss “Zoofari”. 2/17/1970
  • First Russian saigas arrive. 11/1970
  • Wild Animal Park receives South African sable antelope (1/15/1970), greater kudu (1/13/1970), and first gemsbok (1/14/1970).
  • San Diego community votes on Wild Animal Park plan. $6 million bond issue is approved by 75.9% of voters. 11/30/1970
  • Dr. Schroeder lays out route of Wgasa Bush Line.
  • Cable-suspended exhibit for birds of prey opens. Planned by Charles Faust (Zoo designer). 7/15/1970
  • Joan Embery appears on “What’s My Line?” 10/26/1970
  • Cheetah reproductive behavior research project is made possible by grant from the William H. Donner Foundation (Arlington, VA). 10 adult cheetahs purchased in Southwest Africa and 2 five-acre enclosures are constructed at the Wild Animal Park.
  • 3 cheetahs born at the Zoo. 11/22/1970
  • New facility is constructed at Zoo Hospital for post mortem exams. Renovation program enlarges entire hospital complex.
  • Conservation medals awarded to Carl Hubbs and George Schaller.
  • Zoo’s first Pygmy hippo birth. 12/20/1970


  • Southern white rhinoceros arrive at the Wild Animal Park, 18 animals including 8 born at the Zoo. 2/18/1971
  • Joan Embery tapes first “Tonight Show”, airs 11/05/1971 on channels 10 and 4. Includes “Carol” the elephant, orang and others.
  • Conservation medals awarded to Karl Kenyon, Charles Shaw (posthumously) and Lewis W. Walker (posthumously).


  • Wild Animal Park (1800 acre preserve) Opens to the public 9am, 5/10/72. 3,000 visitors on first day. Admission $1.25 for adults, free for Zoo members and children 15 years and younger. $1.50 to ride the tram. More than $10 million spent on construction. ($4 million society funds, $6 million bond issue — approved 11/3/70).
  • Wild Animal Park Monorail is dedicated 02/18/72. Mayor Pete Wilson drives in the last “golden spike”. Opens to the public 5/10/72.
  • First and only Blue bear in captivity (a color morph of the American black bear) acquired by a zoo expedition to Alaska.
  • Dr. Schroeder retires as Director of Zoo. Began tenure in 1954. 5/1972
  • Dr. Donald J. Kinter assumes directorship. 8/16/1972 (Resigns under pressure 2/12/1973).
  • First North African ground hornbill hatched at Wild Animal Park, receives Bean Award.
  • First White rhino calf born at the Wild Animal Park, “Zibulo”. 10/11/1972
  • Six (6) Arabian oryx (4 males, 2 females) are transferred from the world herd at the Phoenix Zoo to the Wild Animal PArk. 11/15/1972
  • Conservation medals awarded to Philip L. Boyd and Mervyn Cowie.


  • Dr. Schroeder testimonial dinner held. 1/10/1973
  • Dr. Donald J. Kinter resigns as director 2/12/1973. Charles Bieler, Dr. Kinter’s executive assistant, is appointed director. Serves 12 years until February, 1985.
  • First captive hatching Red shining parakeet. 3/04/1973
  • First blue-crowned lory captive hatching. 3/29/1973
  • Two AAZPA Bean Awards: one to the Zoo for ruffed lemur birth and one to the Wild Animal Park for Abyssinian ground hornbill hatching. 4/22/1973
  • Cascade Canyon dedicated. 5/17/1973
  • First Przewalski’s horses arrive at Wild Animal Park (4 females, 1 male)
  • Conservation Medals awarded to Gerald Durrell (Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust) and Margaret Owings (Friends of the Sea Otter)
  • Belle Benchley dies at age 91 (8/28/1882 – 12/17/1973)
  • Society raises membership cost to $16.00.


  • First Tule wapiti (18 including 8 born at the Wild Animal Park) to be returned to the wild. 12/05/1974
  • First bus tour given by a female driver.
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Jane Goodall and Heini Hediger (Zurich Zoo director)
  • Koala Club begun for children up to 12 years. Supported by McDonalds restaurants. Membership is $2/child. 4/1974
  • Society raises membership cost to $18.00.
  • Kilimanjaro Hiking Trail opens at Wild Animal Park. 6/27/1974
  • First Arabian oryx born at Wild Animal PArk. 6/27/1974
  • Employee recognition program is begun at Zoo and Wild Animal Park. Pins showing the head of a rhinoceros are awarded.
  • Bill Noonan begins the Graphic Design Department. One of the first projects is to design the “Tree of Life” insignia (all symbols described in Zoonooz 6/1976).


  • CRES (Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species) is established by Dr. Kurt Benirschke and Zoo Director Charles Bieler. Dr. Benirschke assumes directorship on 1/01/1975.
  • Conservation Medals awarded to Bernhard Grzimek (Frankfurt Zoo) and Roland Lindeman (Catskill Game Farm)


  • First Bearded dragon born in captivity. 1/29/1976
  • First bongo arrives. Summer/1976
  • First annual plant and flower sale at the Wild Animal Park.
  • First Black rhino born, “Nanyuki”. 10/1976
  • Conservation medals awarded to Kenton C. Lint and Charles Schroeder.
  • “Tropical America” opens at Wild Animal Park.
  • Zoo receives 2 male and 4 female koalas as a bicentennial gift from Australian government/Lone Pine Koala. Sanctuary. New expanded exhibit is built.


  • First multiple birth among San Diego Zoo’s great apes, Orang-utan twins.
  • Asian elephants perform in Wild Animal Park’s first elephant show (trainer Franz Tisch).
  • The Jennings Center for Zoological Medicine opens at the Zoo, adding a clinical building to the hospital.
  • First birth of prehensile-tailed skinks, birth to live young. 11/30/1977
  • Conservation Medals awarded to Ernst Lang (Director, Basil Zoo) and Maurice Machris (World Herd of Arabian Oryx)


  • First person to adopt a zoo animal is Mayor Maureen O’Connor. 5/1978
  • Orchid display cases dedicated in Fern Canyon.
  • First Animal Chit Chat Show held at Wegeforth Bowl. 8/1978
  • First Tahitian lorie received. San Diego Zoo has the only captive breeding program outside French Polynesia.
  • Wild Animal Park sends 4 male Arabian oryx to Shaumari Reserve in Jordan. 02/17/1978
  • Society raises membership cost to $25.00.


  • World Conference III on breeding endangered species in captivity. 11/12/1979 – 11/16/1979
  • Conservation Medals awarded to William Conway (Bronx Zoo Director), Ray C. Erickson (Patuxant Wildlife Research), and Craig C. McFarland (Wildlands Management, Costa Rica).
  • The San Diego Zoo receives its first Fan palms in the form of seedlings.

Return to Top



  • First Kicks for Critters fund raiser.
  • Avian Propagation Center is established.
  • First Tundra wolves in San Diego Zoo’s collection. 5/1980
  • Photo caravan tours begin at the Wild Animal Park. 6/11/1980
  • Male cheetah “Arusha” is born at Wildlife Safari, Oregon, on 10/30/1980. He is brought to the Zoo 3 months later and introduced to “Anna”, a golden retriever.
  • Wild Animal Park supplies Arabian oryx for reintroduction program in Oman (first free-ranging population)
  • Society raises membership price to $30.00 per membership.


  • “Condorminium” is built at the Wild Animal Park to support condor breeding program.
  • Ground breaking for HOZ (Heart of the Zoo). 2/28/1981
  • California Fish & Game Commission agrees to captive-breeding program for California condors. A breeding pair is to be taken from the wild and housed at the Wild Animal Park. 7/28/1981
  • First elephant born at Wild Animal Park (“Thor”, an African elephant). 8/22/1981
  • First hatching of Fijian banded iguana (first brought to the Zoo in 1965). 11/05/1981
  • Conservation Medals awarded to Ken Stott, former General Curator and Zoonooz editor, and Dr. Heinrich Dathe (Director, Tierpark Zoo, Berlin).


  • Dr. Charles Schroeder wins the Marlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence (first time anyone other than Marlin Perkins has won the award).
  • First Indo-chinese leopard born at the San Diego Zoo. 1/30/1982
  • First Mhorr gazelles are born at the Zoo and in the Western Hemisphere. Two (2) births in February and September 1982.
  • CRES and UC Berkeley scientists collaborate to isolate DNA from 150-year-old Quagga skin
  • Warner Administration Building is completed at the Zoo. 6/1982
  • Whittier Southeast Asian exhibit complex opens (includes remodel of Rain Forest Aviary, 2 islands for Siamangs, Orang-utan enclosures and Douc langur exhibit)
  • Przewalski’s horses reintroduced to Ukraine.
  • Society raises membership cost to $35.00 per membership.


  • Conservation Medal awarded to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. 2/26/1983
  • First California condor, “Sisquoc”, hatched at Zoo. Egg was laid in the wild on 2/02/1983, brought to the Zoo on 2/23/1983, and hatched 3/30/1983. Sisquoc is sent to the Wild Animal Park “Condorminium”.
  • First Kiwi hatching. (First Kiwi arrived to Zoo in 1954.) 4/22/1983
  • First Asiatic lion cubs born at the Wild Animal Park (a Society first). 5/04/1983
  • Ronald Regan designates June as Zoo and Aquarium month.
  • Orchid collection wins Winship Trophy at the San Diego County Orchid Show.
  • First Worldwide Tour (trips around the world led by the Zoo) begins. 8/1983
  • “A World of Animals: The San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park” wins an award for one of the 100 best books published on science in technology. 10/1983
  • Pair of Chinese monals exhibited outside of China for the first time since 1800s.
  • Australian Rain Forest begun in late 1970s by park horticulturist, James Gibbons, is dedicated at the Wild Animal Park. 9/10/1983
  • Charles Bieler begins term as AAZPA president.
  • First koala loaned out in Koala Loan Program to the Denver Zoo. The program has loaned to over 65 cities and 12 countries since.
  • Society raises membership cost to $38.00 per membership.


  • Golden monkeys sent to San Diego Zoo as “Conservation Goodwill Ambassadors” from People’s Republic of China. First to be exhibited in the Western Hemisphere.
  • White tiger “Tapi” on loan from the Cincinnati Zoo. 5/1984
  • First Zoo fund raiser at the Zoo, “Cats in Concert”, organized by the Ocelots. (Name is changed to “The Ritz” in 1985.) 6/1984
  • Charles Bieler completes term as AAZPA president (1-year term). 9/1984
  • Society raises membership cost to $40.00 per membership.


  • Federal and State agencies approve bringing in the last of the remaining wild California condors into captivity. All condors now at L.A. Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park.
  • First time a rare Poitou donkey is exhibited at the Children’s Zoo.
  • Doug Myers assumes directorship. (Served almost 2 years as Wild Animal Park General Manager and 1 year as Director of Operations prior to appointment.) 2/1985
  • “Wild in the City” is published.
  • Village Amphitheater opens at the Wild Animal Park. 3/28/1985
  • First albino koala born outside of Australia, a male named “Goolara”.
  • One ton bronze sculpture of a Southern white rhino donated and displayed at the Wild Animal Park, in honor of Anderson Borthwick, former president of the Society. 4/29/1985
  • First year Horticulture Department is involved in Papua New Guinea expeditions.
  • 9 Bali mynahs reintroduced into native habitat.
  • Orchid Greenhouse is donated by the San Diego County Orchid Society
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Dr. Heinz-Georg Klos, General Director, Zoologischer Garten und Aquarium Berlin, West Germany.
  • First Western tufted deer in the Western Hemisphere. 12/31/1985
  • Society raises membership cost to $45.00 per membership.
  • Diamond Edge Strategic Plan approved (Society’s first long-range plan).


  • Zoo begins rebuilding with “Bio-climate” zone concept. First multi-species enclosure is the African rock kopje.
  • First Somali wild ass born in Western Hemisphere at the Zoo.
  • First time an Eastern kiang, from Beijing, is exhibited in the U.S.
  • Zoo receives 4 pairs of Fijian banded iguanas from the Orchid Island Cultural Center in Fiji.
  • Conservation Medal awarded to David Attenborough (British film maker and naturalist)
  • Dr. Werner Heuschele succeeds Dr. Kurt Benirschke as director of CRES.


  • Last California condor known to be living in the wild is brought into captivity. “AC9” is taken to the Wild Animal Park. Only 27 condors exist. 4/19/1987
  • Golden monkeys arrive for a 2-year stay from China. 4/20/1987
  • Bonsai Pavilion opens. 5/09/1987
  • First time Giant pandas arrive, “Basi” and “Yuan Yuan”, on loan from China. Opening ceremonies on 7/27/1987.
  • Jarrett Meeker Foundation created in memory of Jarrett Meeker to support educational goals and opportunities for children at the San Diego Zoo.
  • Internal Conservation Committee is established.
  • New “Wild About Holidays” program and “Festival of Lights” begins at the Wild Animal Park.


  • First fertile California condor egg laid in captivity on 3/03/1988. Hatches 4/29/1988.
  • Bean Award presented to Zoo, Wild Animal Park, and L.A. Zoo for condor breeding.
  • AZA Exhibit Award and Education Award for East African Rock Kopje interpretive program.
  • Tiger River opens (Kroc Family Tropical Rain Forest Exhibit). 3/26/1988
  • Reintroduction program for Addax (Desert antelope) begins. 3/1988
  • Special Species Programs begin, sponsored by Education Department.
  • PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) first used by CRES scientists to amplify DNA.
  • San Diego Reader article about “Dunda” the elephant reprinted in Zoonooz. 7/1988
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Russel Mittermeier.
  • First koala loaned internationally to Dublin, Ireland.
  • Zoo begins working with the Australia Koala Foundation (AKF).


  • Papua New Guinea expedition returns with plants, birds, and a female Cuscus, “Kler”, who is exhibited in the Animal Chit Chat Show.
  • Xeriscape exhibit opens at the Wild Animal Park. 4/22/1989
  • Keeper Training program begins.
  • First Sichuan takin born in the Western Hemisphere. 6/17/1989
  • Sun Bear Forest opens. Lion-tailed macaques exhibited for first time. 6/30/1989
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Norman Myers (conservationist and author).
  • Andean condors (5 males) hatched in U.S. Zoo are released in Colombia.
  • Arabian oryx returned to Muscat, Oman.
  • Wild Animal Park receives several Northern white rhinos from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.

Return to Top



  • First successful Mountain anoa birth at Zoo. 9/1990
  • King Tut dies. 12/30/1990. (related article).
  • Royal Lipizzaner stallions at Wild Animal Park. 5/1990
  • Nativescapes Garden, Old World Succulent Garden and Water Wise Garden established at Wild Animal Park.
  • Bean Award given to Zoo for Francois’ langur propagation program.
  • CRES researchers produce first pheasant ever hatched from artificial insemination with frozen semen.
  • AZA Award for Tiger River exhibit.
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Dr. Gilbert Grosvenor (President, National Geographic).


  • San Diego Zoological Society’s 75th birthday.
  • Third publication of “It Began with a Roar”. 10/1991
  • First King Cheetahs arrive from De Wildt, South Africa, through exchange of animals.
  • Dr. Charles Robbins Schroeder dies. 7/29/1901 – 3/21/1991
  • Pamela Orsi crushed by elephants. (Only animal-related death at Wild Animal Park.) 3/14/1991
  • 2.5 acre Gorilla Tropics opens with troop of 6 gorillas in a 10,000′ enclosure and a new Scripps Aviary. First used of canned sound (thunder, birds, frogs). 3/23/1991
  • Two-headed corn snake, “Thelma” and “Louise” arrives. 4/1991
  • Rhino Conference (International Symposium on the Biology and Conservation of the Rhinoceros) takes place. Michael Werikhe, the “Rhino Man”, from Kenya, attends. 5/09/1991
  • California Nativescapes opens at Wild Animal Park. 5/11/1991
  • Topiary Conference and Exhibition. 5/23/1991
  • 67th Annual AAZPA Conference is hosted by the Zoological Society. 9/15/1991
  • Automated dinosaur exhibit, “Dinos to Rhinos”, begins at the Wild Animal Park. Created by Dinamation International Corp.
  • AAZPA Significant Achievement Award for the long-term propagation of Fijian iguanas.
  • First Eastern kiang born in Western Hemisphere, “Druzhba”.
  • Zoo begins program to reintroduce Loggerhead shrikes to San Clemente Island.
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Michael Werikhe.
  • Society raises membership cost to $58 per membership.


  • Wild Animal Park celebrates 20th birthday.
  • First 2 California condors released into Los Angeles National Forest. 1/14/1992
  • “Blanca”, a white tiger cub, is confiscated by U.S. Customs Officials and given to the San Diego Zoo. 3/1992
  • First harpy eagle hatched in U.S. Only 3 breeding pairs in the world. 4/28/1992
  • Naked mole-rat exhibit opens at the Zoo. 6/27/1992
  • Treehouse opens (4,500 sq ft, 3 story complex). Includes cafeteria, banquet rooms, merchandising shop and “Alberts”, a fine dining restaurant. 7/2/1992
  • Butterfly Encounter opens at Wild Animal Park in the Park’s new Hummingbird Pavillion. 7/4/1992
  • Komodo dragon exhibited. 10/22/1992
  • First black rhino, “Werikhe”, born at Zoo. 11/15/1992
  • 5 Loggerhead shrikes returned to San Clemente Island through the Zoo’s efforts. 12/14/1992
  • Cuban iguana research begins.
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Noel Snyder (Endangered Wildlife Research Program and Wildlife Preservation Trust).
  • AZA Significant Achievement Award for Gorilla Tropics.
  • San Diego Zoo receives first bearded pigs in a zoo in the Western Hemisphere.


  • Zoological Society receives American Museum Accreditation. Only 5 other U.S. zoos are accredited. 2/10/1993
  • Zoo joins U.S. Fish & Wildlife and the Peregrine Fund to save Hawaiian crow (Alala). 11 eggs are incubated.
  • Birth of first Asian elephant in San Diego, “Omar”.
  • Chit Chat show closes.
  • First Friends of the Garden celebration. 3/19/1993 – 3/21/1993
  • Pygmy chimps at Bonobo Road (a 6,000 sq ft naturalistic exhibit for chimpanzees) and Wings of Australasia (20 new aviaries) open at the Zoo. 4/1993
  • Hidden Jungle (insectarium) opens at the Wild Animal Park. 4/03/1993
  • Zoo begins negotiations with China for a breeding loan of 2 pandas. Panda exhibit built to Chinese specifications (2,688 sq ft / $800,000). Begun 3/01/1993 but import permit is challenged by WWF and Bruce Babbitt (Secretary of the Interior) rejects request 6/1993. Appeal by the Zoo is again denied by the US Fish & Wildlife on 9/23/1993
  • Fire at Park burns 800 acres in October. No animals were lost but vegetation was destroyed in off-exhibit holding pens and some areas within exhibits. 10/1993
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Jared Diamond.
  • AZA Significant Achievement Award for conservation of the San Clemente Island Loggerhead shrike.
  • AZA conservation endowment fund award for wild canid reproductive strategies (shared with 9 recipients)
  • Society increases membership cost to $62 per membership.


  • First Nighttime Zoo and sleep-overs.
  • Roar and Snore camping begins at Wild Animal Park. 4/15/1994
  • First African open-billed stork chick bred in captivity hatches at Wild Animal Park. 6/08/1994
  • Newly renovated raptor exhibit opens. 7/04/1994
  • Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UC San Diego (Dr. Stuart Jamieson) performs open heart surgery on Karen (2-year-old Sumatran orang). 8/27/1994
  • Lorikeet Landing and Kangaroo Encounter (Wild Animal Park interactive exhibits open on 5/28/94).
  • First L’Houests’s guenon born in U.S. (1 male). 9/24/1994
  • First successful Harpy eagle bred in North America. First chick hatches 11/09/1994 (incubated in APC). Second chick hatches 11/18/1994 but dies of unknown causes under parental care.
  • Conservation medal awarded to Mark Plotkin.
  • AZA Significant Achievement Award to Wild Animal Park for hornbill breeding program.
  • The Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation program is launched.


  • U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbit, authorizes U.S. Fish and Wildlife to issue panda import permit. 1/14/1995
  • “Arusha” the cheetah dies (starred in animal shows for 14 years; “Anna”, his golden retriever companion, died in February 1993). 5/05/1995
  • 2 Sumatran rhinos die: “Barakas” of kidney disease (2/27/1959) and “Tanjung”, an 8-year-old male from a twisted intestine (2/27/1995). Only 3 Sumatrans remain in U.S. zoos – 1 in Los Angeles and 2 in Cincinnati.
  • First Tuatara breeding colony outside of New Zealand is established with donation from the Atiawa Iwi Tribe of Arapawa, Brothers Island, New Zealand. 4/05/1995
  • Hippo Beach opens. 110-foot long, 150,000 gallon pool with underwater viewing constructed on 3-acre site in Cascade Canyon. Cost $3.9 million. Exhibit also features 12 hippo sand sculptures (created by Gerry Kirk’s Sand Sculptures International from 50 tons of sand and 25 gallons of glue). A bronze hippo play sculpture by Burt Brent is also featured. 5/27/1995
  • AZA Significant Achievement Award for Andean reintroduction program.
  • Water Garden established in Kapanda Falls at Wild Animal Park.
  • Bus department begins “Kangaroo Tours” (“hop” on and off at 8 locations in the Zoo).
  • Ken Stott, former General Curator and Editor of Zoonooz, dies. 8/19/1995
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Dr. Kurt Benirschke. 11/03/1995
  • AZA Conservation Endowment Fund Award for Tree Kangaroo SSP Avian TB Research Project (shared with Woodland Park Zoo).
  • Society increases membership cost to $68 per membership.


  • First zoo to have float in Pasadena Rose Parade features hippos, 80th birthday cake, and Joan Embery.
  • Zoo’s 80th birthday party, “Celebra80!”, features 6 international festivals with 7 commemorative pins distributed: Tiger, Hippo, Macaw, Polar Bear, Koala, Reindeer, Butterfly.
  • New Okapi exhibit opens as part of Hippo Beach area. (Only 25 zoos in the world exhibit Okapis.) 4/07/1996
  • CRES receives 6 Jamaican rock iguanas (species thought extinct but rediscovered in June, 1990). Joins 5 other U.S. zoos as off-site breeding colony.
  • Mombasa Lagoon (animal habitat constructions for young children) added to the Park’s Nairobi Village. Petting Kraal was also remodeled as part of this project. 5/25/1996
  • Renovation of Dryer Flamingo Lagoon. Completed 3/1996. First flamingo chick hatched in 14 years on 6/13/1996. Success is attributed to new exhibit plus 21 new birds.
  • Polar Bear Plunge opens with 130,000 gallon pool maintained at 65 degrees; 5,500 sq ft play area. Four residents: “Castor”, “Bonnie”, and 15-month-old Canadian orphans, “Chinook” and “Shakari”. 6/29/1996
  • A male park visitor enters the Manchurian brown bear enclosure and must be rescued by Zoo staff. He suffers a bite to the hip by a female bear.
  • 26-year-old male Polar bear, “Castor”, dies from liver cancer.
  • Female panda “Bai Yun” and male panda “Shi Shi” arrive from People’s Republic of China. 12 year research loan begins ($1,000,000 / year for panda conservation in China). 9/10/1996
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Frank Tood (Eco Cepts International and Sea World) and Prof. Pan Wenshi (biologist and panda researcher).
  • Dedication of Giant panda research station with Sen. Diane Feinstein on 10/22/1996. Grand opening to public on 11/01/1996.
  • First Mum Festival at the Wild Animal Park. 11/1996
  • AZA Significant Achievement Award for Hippo Beach.
  • AZA Conservation Endowment Fund Award for use of assisted reproductive technology to conserve the Cinerus vulture (shared with 3 other zoos).


  • Polar bears “Buzz” and “Neil” sent from the Louisville Zoo to join “Bonnie”, “Chinook” and “Shakari” in the Polar Bear Plunge. 1/20/1997
  • “Alvila” (32-year-old matriarch of Gorilla Tropics) gives birth to female “Azizi” while still caring for adopted daughter “Imani”.
  • First European river otter is born in U.S. (Pair received from Zurich Zoo in 1991). 1/24/1997
  • Zoo receives a breeding pair of Kagus (flightless birds of New Caledonia). Only other birds exhibited are in New Caledonia and Japan.
  • Conservation Medal awarded to David Western.
  • 30 acre “Heart of Africa” opens at the Wild Animal Park. 5/24/1997
  • The Zoo successfully breeds bearded pigs.
  • 25th anniversary celebration at the Wild Animal Park.
  • Entry rondavel and aviary remodeling at the Wild Animal Park.


  • Society adopts new strategic plan: Journey into 2002.
  • Conservation Medal awarded to E.O. Wilson. 4/24/1998
  • Remodel of Gorilla Tropics for enhanced viewing.
  • Zoo opens at 7:30 AM — “Morning Zoo Rise”.
  • 2 white bearded manakins and 2 black-headed herons are first hatches in North America.
  • Kurt Benirschke receives Marlin Perkins Award.


  • Conservation Medal awarded to Dr. George Rabb (former director of Brookfield Zoo). 4/30/1999
  • Ituri Forest opens. Includes 6 species: Okapis, hippos, forest buffalo, river otters, guenons, turacos, and peafowl. 5/29/1999.
  • First births of Chacoan giant peccaries. 5/30/1999
  • First birth of Indo-chinese tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti) for the Society. 6/10/1999
  • Renewal of the Parker Aviary.
  • The original bird of prey aviary (built in 1937) becomes the new Owens’ Rainforest Aviary (80′ x 150′ x 75′), housing more than 200 birds from Southeast Asia. The $4 million renovation has 1,000′ of linear walkways and complies with earthquake and wheelchair regulations.
  • “Bai Yun” gives birth after being artificially inseminated with “Shi Shi’s” sperm — Giant panda cub “Hua Mei” is born on 8/21/1999 at 11:40 AM.
  • Somali wild ass imported from Hai Bar, Israel.
  • Bird Breeding Complex opens at Wild Animal Park. Largest off-exhibit center in U.S.
  • “Mr. Zoo”, book commemorating Dr. Schroeder, is published by the Society.
  • Online merchandising at begins. 11/1999
  • First zoo-based molecular diagnostic lab is launched by CRES Pathology Department.
  • Alan Dixson succeeds Werner Heuschele as director of CRES.
  • Hua Mei’s naming ceremony. 12/1/1999

Return to Top



  • Society receives the largest grant in its 83-year history ($7.5 million) from the Beckman Foundation to build new CRES complex at the Wild Animal Park.
  • Condor Ridge opens at the Wild Animal Park. 13 North American species are featured. 5/2000
  • CRES hosts international conference, “Genetic Resources for the New Century”, May 7-11, 2000.
  • CRES expands with addition of 12 post-doctoral fellowships.
  • New exhibit for porcupines and aardwolves at the Zoo.
  • Reptile quarantine facility is constructed.
  • New Douc langur enclosure (originally the Lion Grotto, created in 1923) is constructed in Sun Bear Forest (2 30-foot towers, each with its own pond and plants).
  • Heart of the Zoo III construction begins.
  • AZA International Conservation Award for Jamaican iguana conservation and recovery program.
  • AZA Conservation Endowment Fund Award for restoration of two critically endangered West Indian rock iguanas through headstarting and release (shared with Fort Worth Zoo).
  • Conservation Medals awarded to Dr. Marilyn Renfree (Zoology Department, University of Melbourne) and John Aspinall (Director of Howletts and Port Lympne Zoos).
  • Panda 2000 Conference (co-sponsored by WWF, China Wildlife Conservation Association, and China Association for Zoological Gardens). Oct 16-18 2000.
  • Kiwi exhibit remodeled.


  • 100th condor hatched at the Wild Animal Park. 3/22/2001
  • 1st egg laid by a re-introduced California Condor in the wild on 3/25/2001. Pulled by USFWS and hatched on 6/22/2001. Chick returned to wild but dies 6/28/2001.
  • Zoos old Monkey Yard is torn down (36 small cells) to make way for Heart of the Zoo III. Grass is planted for summer activities.
  • Conservation Medal awarded to Dr. Peter Raven (Missouri Botanical Garden Director).
  • Pacarana exhibit is constructed along Kiwi Trail.
  • Giant panda exhibit expanded. New Panda research center opens.
  • 2nd International Rhino Conference held at Wild Animal Park. 5/8 – 5/10/2001
  • Paul Harter Veterinary Medical Center ($20 million / 64,000 sq ft) opens at the Wild Animal Park. 9/2001
  • First successful captive breeding of Anegada iguanas (only 300 remain in British Virgin Islands).
  • First Sumatran rhino born in captivity since 1989 at Cincinnati. A cooperative effort between Cincinnati, San Diego, Los Angeles and the Bronx Zoos. 9/14/2001
  • Wild Animal Park Gorilla exhibit renovation.
  • Four Storm stork chicks hatch at Wild Animal Park Breeding Complex.
  • Jungle Bazaar I and II remodeled into Zoo Shop I and II. 5/2001
  • First Chinese dholes (Alex, Ivana, and Yuri) arrive at the Wild Animal Park from the Moscow Zoo.


  • 2nd annual Animal Behavior Management Conference. 2/27 – 3/2/2002
  • Conservation Medals awarded to Dr. Richard H. Goodwin (botanist, professor and founder of the Nature Conservancy), Dr. Jeremy J.C. Mallinson (British Zoo Director and author) and Ulysses S. Seal (founder of ISIS, Chairman of Captive Breeding Specialist Group) in Minneapolis. 11/17/2002
  • New Gharial exhibit opens on Reptile Mesa.
  • Edward H. Bean Award for Sumatran rhino breeding program along with the L.A. Zoo, WCS, and Cincinnati Zoo.
  • AZA North American Conservation Award for Hawai’i endangered bird conservation program.
  • AZA International Conservation Award for tree kangaroo conservation program.
  • Ceremonial groundbreaking to initiate construction of Heart of the Zoo III. 9/04/2002
  • Three condor chicks hatch in the wild, none survive.


  • Wild Animal Park’s Hunte Nairobi Pavilion opens, replacing Village Amphitheater. 01/2003
  • Shi Shi returns to China. Giant panda, “Gao Gao”, arrives at the San Diego Zoo. 1/15/2003
  • Gao Gao and Bai Yun mate naturally. 3/22/2003
  • Bai Yun is artificially inseminated with Shi Shi’s sperm. 3/23/2003
  • Dr. Arnold O. Beckman awarded the Zoological Society’s Conservation Medal for 2003. 3/28/2003
  • Flamingos moved into a redesigned Flamingo Lagoon as part of the new Heart of the Zoo. 4/2003
  • Orang-utan and Siamang exhibits redesigned to form new integrated multi-species exhibit, “Absolutely Apes”. Opens 5/2003.
  • Frozen Zoo skin cells are used to clone “Jahava”, a healthy male Banteng (Advanced Cellular Technology partners with the Zoo). 4/01/2003
  • Groundbreaking event for the new $22 million Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species at the Wild Animal Park. 6/05/2003
  • Dr. Don Lindburg receives primatologist award from the American Society of Primatologists. 8/2003
  • Seven African elephants (1 male, 6 females) imported to the Wild Animal Park from the Kingdom of Swaziland, first elephant importation from the wild in 15 years. 8/2003
  • Giant panda, Bai Yun, gives birth to male cub, Mei Sheng. (Gao Gao is the father.) 8/19/2003
  • First condor chick (#305) fledges at Arizona’s Grand Canyon. 11/05/2003


  • The world’s first genetically clone Banteng goes on display at the Zoo. 1/23/2004
  • Hua Mei returns to China. 2/12/2004
  • First Bornean sun bear born in North America, “Danum” (son of “Marcella” and “Dibu”). 2/17/2004
  • Male elephant, “Vus’musi”, is born 6 months after his mother “Nudula” arrives at the Wild Animal Park. 2/23/2004
  • California condors get new school facility. Puppet-reared chicks can be mentored by mature condors.
  • Douc langurs taken off exhibit because of their sensitivity and raised behind the scenes. 4/2004
  • San Diego City Council approves ZSSD Park Boulevard Promenade Plan for the North End of Balboa Park. 4/13/2004
  • Society receives City’s “Recycler of the Year” award. 5/12/2004
  • U.S.-born Giant panda, Hua Mei, gives birth to twins in China. 8/31/2004
  • “Lion Camp”, 33,000 sq ft exhibit with 6 lions, opens at the Wild Animal Park. Old exhibit refurbished for breeding.
  • Po’ouli is captured and brought to Maui Bird Conservation Center in Hawaii. Search for 2 other birds continues. 9/10/2004
  • AZA Conservation Endowment Fund Award for restoration of California condor to Baja California, Mexico.
  • IMLS National Award for Museum Service for educational programs.
  • Conservation Medal awarded to John and Becky Moores, San Diego philanthropists. 9/06/2004
  • 50,000 sq ft Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species opens. 11/08/2004
  • Po’ouli, male bird thought to be last of the species, dies. 11/26/2004


  • Cells of Po’ouli are successfully cultured at CRES and stored in Frozen Zoo. 1/25/2005
  • “Komaas”, a female Southern white rhino at the Wild Animal Park, sets longevity record of 42 years. Has given birth to 16 live offspring. 2/17/2005
  • Cheetah Run Safari debuts Saturdays and Sundays at the Wild Animal Park. 4/02/2005
  • Conservation Medal is awarded to Dr. George Archibald, co-founder of ICF (International Crane Foundation). 4/26/2005
  • Monkey Trails and Forest Tales – a 3 acre, multilevel exhibit area uniting major areas of the Zoo, opens. 6/2005
  • Conservation Carousel, featuring 60 rare and endangered species, opens at the Wild Animal Park.
  • Bai Yun gives birth to third panda cub, “Su Lin”. 8/02/2005
  • Hua Mei gives birth to her second set of twins in China. (First set born 9/2004). 8/29/2005
  • Balloon Safari begins at the Wild Animal Park. 10/15/2005
  • CRES joins National Zoological Park, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, White Oak Conservation Center, and The Wilds to form CCSS (Conservation Centers for Species Survival)
  • “Kasten”, the Zoo’s popular performer and South African caracal, miraculously recovers from a severe snake bite.


  • First State of Endangered Species Symposium is held at Beckman Center (Topic: Bushmeat crisis). 3/30/2006
  • CRES begins rescue of California mountain yellow-legged frog in August.
  • Conservation medals awarded to Peregrine Fund’s Thomas Cade & Dr. William Burnham (deceased) and philanthropist Paxson Offield. 12/07/2006
  • Society establishes a new foundation for key fundraising efforts. 12/28/2006
  • The first “Walk on the Wild Side” takes place. The walk fundraises for conservation efforts.
  • The Children’s Rainforest Art Explorer Program is established to “reach out to families experiencing devastating illness and chronic diseases” (Zoonooz Dec/2007, p. 16).
  • Allison Alberts takes over as director of CRES, replacing Alan Dixson.


  • Park Monorail (“Wgasa Bushline”) is replaced by “Journey into Africa” with African Express biodiesel vehicles. 3/16/2007
  • First California condor (#321) flies from Baja to Anza-Borrego Desert in April. Returns after several days.
  • New CRES Plant Division begins Native Seed Gene Bank in partnership with new Botanic Garden.
  • San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike Program (CRES) is awarded Significant Achievement Award for North American Conservation from AZA.
  • Asian Turtle Program (CRES) is co-awarded International Conservation Award from AZA. Shared with Fort Worth Zoo, Zoo Atlanta, Cleveland Zoo, and WCS.
  • CEO Douglas Myers is confirmed to the National Museum and Library Services Board.
  • Strategic plan developed for Society. Masterplans for Zoo and Wild Animal Park.
  • Maasai from Mbirikani Group Ranch in Kenya spend 2 months at Wild Animal Park.
  • CRES partners with High-Tech High School.
  • Discovery Station opens at the old Monorail loading site next to the Thorntree Terrace at the Wild Animal Park.
  • ZSSD Foundation holds inaugural meeting. 7/04/2007
  • New Zoo bus depot opens in August.
  • Bai Yun gives birth to fourth panda cub, “Zhen Zhen”. 8/03/2007
  • Conservation medals awarded to Michael Soule and Rolf Benirschke.


  • Great Rift Lift elevator begins operation at Wild Animal Park in January.
  • Conservation Alliance with Polar Bear International begins. 2/01/2008
  • Multi-year partnership begun with Al Ain Zoo and Aquarium Public Institution to assist in creation of a 2,000 acre Wildlife Park in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. The new reserve will be called “Dowh Al Ain”.
  • Formal interpretive volunteer program begins.
  • The last Elephant Show is held at the Wild Animal Park in preparation for moving the Asian elephant collection to the Zoo’s new Elephant Odyssey exhibit. 4/06/2008 (Elephant Odyssey opens 5/23/2009.)
  • Conservation Award is expanded to include 4 categories: Lifetime Achievement, Conservation-in-action, Conservation Advocate and Young Conservationist. Lifetime and Action Awards include monetary award of $10,000. Young Conservationist receives $500. Medals are awarded to Laurie Marker (Lifetime Achievement), Richard Louv (Conservation Advocate) and Gladys Kalema-Ziksoka (Conservation in Action).
  • The Biomimicry / Bioinspiration Conference, the first of what becomes an annual event, is held by San Diego Zoo Global. 2008.


  • Conservation Medals awarded to J. Michael Fay (Lifetime Achievement Award), Serge Dedina (Conservation in Action Award), Ken Goddard (Special Achievement Award) & Intel Founder Gordon Moore (Conservation Advocate Award). 2/2009
  • The San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research joins with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assume operation of the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (DTCC) in Las Vegas, Nevada. 2/1/2009. (The DTCC took over operations of the DTCC Pet Desert Tortoise Hotline/Pickup Service on January 1, 2010.)
  • Flightline, a zipline spanning two-thirds of a mile, opens at the Wild Animal Park. 4/30/2009
  • A new guide map and wayfinding system is introduced at the Zoo. 5/23/2009
  • 7-acre, $44.2 million, Harry & Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey opens. Includes 2.5 acre area with 137,000 gallon pool for Asian elephants, 1/2 acre Conrad Prebys Elephant Management Facility, 4 acres devoted to 30 additional species and education (California’s Fossil History). 5/23/2009
  • CRES changes name to “San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research”. 8/05/2009
  • “Yun Zi”, 5th Giant panda cub, is born to Bai Yun. 8/05/2009
  • Institute for Conservation Research receives 3 AZA Conservation Endowment Fund Awards: 1. Daily travel of African elephants in Botswana; 2. Genetic analyses of amphibian Chytrid fungus; 3. Reintroduction of California mountain yellow-legged frog.
  • Wilderness Ridge Mule Rides begin at Wild Animal Park (2 hour tour through Coastal scrub habitat of San Pasqual Valley). Begins 8/08/2009, discontinued 12/16/2009.
  • Kids Free Days expands to the Wild Animal Park with free admission for all children age 11 and younger. 10/01/20009 (In 2009, Founder’s Day was discontinued at the Zoo — first Monday in October — and Wild Animal Park — second Wednesday in May.)
  • The 2009 Biomimicry Symposium (a partnership with Point Loma Nazarine University to promote sustainable business, renewable resources and biomimicry) is held in San Diego. 10/02/2009

Return to Top



  • San Diego Zoo partners with Nature and Culture International (NCI) to protect the Cazaderos Forest Preserve through the Living Forest Carbon Offset Program.
  • San Diego Zoo hosts a conference of world experts to discuss “The Future of Zoos”. 2/23-24/2010
  • Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge re-opens at the Zoo after a $1 million renovation. 3/26/2010
  • Board of Trustees approves rebranding the organization’s three facilities as the San Diego Zoo (no change), San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, under the new umbrella title San Diego Zoo Global. 6/30/2010
  • Fetter Family Galapagos Tortoise Exhibit, a $1 million renovation project, opens at the Zoo. 9/16/2010
  • Creepy Crawly Festival is first held at the Park. 10/23/2010
  • Safari Park Elephant habitat expands to 5.5 acres 12/7/2010
  • 2010 Conservation Medal awarded to Ivan Gayler, of Nature and Culture International. 2010


  • San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research receives the 2011 Plume Award for long-term avian propagation programs for work with critically endangered Hawaiian birds; the award was given by the Avian Scientific Advisory Group (ASAG) the AZA conference. 3/2011
  • First annual Safari Park Half Marathon is held. 3/13/2011
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park Curator of Birds Michael Mace receives 2010 Endangered Species Recovery Champion Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Pacific Southwest Region; the award recognizes Mace’s work with California condors and light-footed clapper rails. 3/18/2011
  • Biofiltration wetlands habitat, a new tool for managing and reusing water, is unveiled at the Safari Park. 4/6/2011
  • The Desert Tortoise Conservation Center relocates 36 desert tortoises to the wild near Las Vegas. 4/27/2011
  • Western gorilla Kokamo gives birth to a male named Monroe, the first gorilla born at the Safari Park in 11 years; the baby is named after President Emeritus Lee Monroe. 6/17/2011
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park unveils the daily Cheetah Run, in which Park guests watch a cheetah chase a mechanical lure. 7/2/2011
  • Partnering with Nature and Culture International, the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy assumes operation of the Cocha Cashu Biological Station in Manu National Park, Peru. 7/2011
  • 2011 Conservation Medals awarded to Joan Embery and Duane Pillsbury and three Young Conservation Award winners: Luca Banks, Mason McGhee, Nathan Tallman. 8/11/2011
  • Panda Trek exhibit opens to the public, featuring giant pandas, red pandas, Sichuan takins, and 8 species of bamboo in a 0.75 acre space. 8/9/2011
  • San Diego Wildlife Conservancy is launched to unify and raise the profile of conservation efforts pursued by the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research. 9/19/2011
  • Rodrigues flying foxes (fruit bats) debut in a newly opened bat house exhibit in the Safari Park’s Nairobi Village. 12/22/2011
  • San Diego Zoo and Safari Park combined attendance for 2011 is nearly 5 million; total number of card-carrying members is 530,740. 2011


  • Condors Sisquoc and Shatash become the first pair to ever be observed by the public incubating an egg on a life web camera set up in their off-exhibit condor care area at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. 1/23/2012
  • San Diego Zoo Bornean orangutan Janey celebrates her 50th birthday during the Zoo’s Discovery Days: Absolutely Apes event. 2/17/2012
  • San Diego Zoo Global partners with Universidad Autonoma de Baja California school of veterinary medicine establish cross-border partnership to aid California Condor Recovery Program in Mexico. 2/22/2012
  • Two critically endangered male Sumatran tigers were born at the Safari Park, marking the 24th and 25th births of the species at the Safari Park since the facility opened in 1972. 3/6/2012
  • California condor chick “Saticoy” hatches for a live, worldwide audience on San Diego Zoo Global’s Condor Cam. 3/10/2012
  • A conservation milestone is reached when the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center (operated by the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program, a field program of San Diego Zoo Global) hatches its 100th `alalā (Hawaiian crow), a species extinct in the wild. 5/31/2012
  • Critically endangered Lord Howe Island stick insects hatch at the San Diego Zoo, marking the first time in San Diego Zoo Global History that the organization has participated in the reproduction of a critically endangered insect. 6/2012
  • The San Diego Zoo’s Reptile Walk exhibit opens to the public, featuring reptiles and amphibians, including native California species. 7/4/2012
  • Jungle Ropes Safari, a rope climb through trees featuring over thirty aerial challenges, debuts at the Safari Park. 7/20/2012
  • New koala conservation effort is launched using whole-genome DNA technology to better understand the genetic fitness of each koala population; collaborators include University of Sydney, San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy, and James Cook University. 7/2012
  • San Diego Zoo panda Bai Yun gives birth to her 6th cub, a male named “Xiao Li Wu”; at 20 years old, Bai Yun is one of the oldest giant pandas known to give birth to a cub. 7/29/2012
  • 2012 Conservation medals awarded to Edgardo Griffith and Heidi Ross from the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center in Panama. 8/1/2012
  • San Diego Zoo Global launches the San Diego Zoo Academy, an Internet-based training program for animal care staff at zoos around the world. 9/10/2012
  • San Diego Zoo Global publication ZOONOOZ launches an iPad application featuring unique content and issues not available in print form. 9/13/2012
  • San Diego Zoo Global is awarded Top Honors for the 2012 AZA International Conservation Award for its Scientific Approaches to Conservation of Giant Pandas and Their Habitat program. 9/21/2012
  • San Diego Zoo Global and SeaWorld San Diego are awarded the 2012 AZA Significant Achievement in North American Conservation for the facilities’ Light-Footed Clapper Rail Recovery program. 9/26/2012
  • Troop matriarch and 3rd oldest known living gorilla Vila celebrates her 55th birth at the Safari Park. 10/26/2012
  • Groundbreaking is held for Tull Family Tiger Trail at the Safari Park, which is to be a 5-acre Sumatran tiger habitat; the $19.6 million exhibit is the Park’s largest project ever fully funded by philanthropy and the second-largest project for San Diego Zoo Global. 12/12/2012


  • First documented case of a California condor chick fledged in the wild in Mexico in nearly 80 years, the result of reintroduction efforts by San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and conservation group COSTASALVAjE. 2/2013
  • San Diego Zoo Global’s Central Africa program manager Ekwoge Enang Abwe is awarded the prestigious Whitley award (or “Green Oscar”) for his conservation efforts in Cameroon’s Ebo Forest. 5/2/2013
  • Conrad Preby’s Australian Outback exhibit opens to the public at the San Diego Zoo. 5/24/2013
  • The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research starts its first the Advanced Inquiry Masters Program through a partnership with Project Dragonfly at Miami University; the program offers two degrees including Master of Arts in Teaching in Biological Sciences and a Master of Arts of Zoology. 6/2013
SDZWA History Timeline