This zoo received its first animal in 1889—a grizzly bear believed to be the last in captivity. More than a century later, it shelters 1,000+ exotic and endangered animals. It’s also home to the a six-acre petting zoo, plus the largest outdoor lemur exhibit in the country and the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world.
Oakland Zoo was first established in 1922, but it didn?t find its permanent home until 1939, when it was thoughtfully constructed amid the rolling hills of Knowland Park. Today, Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 animals, who thrive in biomes designed to mimic their natural environments.
The sprawling African savannah is one of the zoo?s largest habitats, housing hyenas, zebras, elephants, and giraffes. The centerpiece is a 1.5-acre lion exhibit called Simba Pori, which translates to lion county in Swahili. Inside, a pride of lions freely roam an enclosure outfitted with kopje rock structures, a pond, and a booth where the king can sign autographs.
Over in the rainforest habitat, chimpanzees and white-handed gibbons swing through the treetops. Emus and wallaroos?a cousin of the wallaby and the kangaroo?roam freely in the Wild Australia exhibit, accessible via one of the zoo?s rides, Outback Express Adventure Train. Other rides include the Endangered Species Carousel and Sky Ride, a chairlift that soars above the habitats and offers Bay Area skyline views.
Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, experience an introduction to coastal cousins?northern elephant seals, california sea lions, and harbor seals, at the Marine Mammal Center. Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, the center's docents and experts teach visitors about these aquatic creatures, and the pollution that endangers them and their ocean ecosystems. Visitors can see the marine mammal patients from the observation deck and watch volunteers and veterinarians in action. Through donations and programs like Adopt-A-Seal, any animal-lover can buy fresh fish and medicine for a rescued seal or sea lion.
Five Things to Know About Coit Tower
Tall, slender, and made of white concrete, Coit Tower has stood as a symbol of San Francisco for nearly a century. This iconic column is perched atop Telegraph Hill, where droves of people still explore it daily. Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you visit:
It’s named for Lillie Hitchcock Coit. Lillie was a wealthy, offbeat patroness of the city’s volunteer firefighters. She died in 1929, leaving her riches behind to help beautify the city she adored.
Many people think it resembles a fire-hose nozzle.
The views from the top are spectacular. Adults and children who haven’t figured out how to defy gravity yet pay a small fee to ride up the tower’s elevator, where panoramic views of the city and bay await them.
Murals are scrawled across the walls. Completed in 1934, these paintings depict life in California during the Depression. Some of the original depictions were so controversial that they had to be painted over.
Parking is very limited. Instead of driving, take a scenic hike to the tower along Telegraph Hill’s eastern slope off of Filbert Street. This route even passes the Grace Marchant Garden.
Traditionally, the zoo provides the comfort of seeing animals that could not make a surprise visit to your backyard; this is a comfort CuriOdyssey dispatches to give weight to its message of science education. The menagerie of nearly 100 mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds primarily showcases local species like the Channel Island fox and the red-shouldered hawk, which have relatively small niches that have been squeezed by environmental degradation and human encroachment. Native species can be glimpsed within a complex of 25 lush habitats, including a 4,000-square-foot walk-through aviary and a replica of the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Sunny, outdoor gardens fill more than 1.3 acres with plots that rotate with the seasons and plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds for live study. Among the science exhibits, Forces explores fundamental forces in nature such as gravity and magnetism. All the exhibits are designed to enable close observation and experimentation characteristic of the scientific method. This aim is supported by shows, such as daily otter feedings—spied from behind the glass of a cross-sectioned riverbank—and a variety of classes.
What started as a creative way to pay a debt led to the founding of Lemos Farm. Owner Bob Lemos' grandfather was repaid with a cow, so he bought land for the cow and her new calf in 1942, and over the years, the property morphed into a dairy farm, an alien robot, back into a dairy farm, and then a space for horses. Eventually Bob and his father, Arnold, peppered the land with Christmas trees, pumpkins, pony rides, and haunted houses, beckoning families to the sprawling grounds.
Visitors escape urban drudgery and revel in the decidedly country ambience, whether aboard hayrides or visiting the petting zoo for an introductory course in farm-animal massage therapy. During the holiday season, families wander the aromatic rows of the Christmas tree farm, where Douglas fir, incense cedar, and other pines await.