Like most of the 500-plus other creatures at Santa Barbara Zoo, Duncan runs, blinks, and growls. Unlike his fellow animals, however, Duncan isn't real. The life-like Tyrannosaurus Rex, Lily the Duckbill, and Baby Triceratops Tulip star in a lively 15-minute "cooking show" that reveals how zoo animal diets are created. This compassion is on display throughout the 30-acre zoo, where critters such as female Asian elephants, California condors, and Chilean flamingos roam in open, naturalistic habitats.
Elsewhere on the grounds, guests can ride around the zoo's perimeter in replicas of C.P. Huntington trains from 1863, marvel at stunning Pacific Ocean views or hand-feed domestic sheep. More hands-on experiences are afforded through the zoo's behind-the-scenes packages, such as the Keeper for a Day program, where visitors work alongside pros as they train and clean up after animals. Along with the daily sights available during visiting hours, the zoo hosts events, camps for youngsters, and overnights, where participants can sleep beside the lion exhibit, across the street from the beach.