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1 . San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and most respected zoos in the world. It is one of the few to house and breed the giant Panda and it was one of the first to use natural enclosures for animals instead of cages.

Located in Balboa Park since 1922, the San Diego Zoo is home to more than 4,000 exotic animals and 800 species from jungles and forests around the world. The zoo is divided into several themed areas covering more than 100 acres of beautiful parkland. These themed areas, replicating the animals' natural environment, include the African Rain Forest, Arctic Wilderness, and the Elephant Odyssey. Other exhibits include a sea lion show, a children's petting zoo, and an indoor reptile house. In addition to offering exiting shows and exhibits, the San Diego Zoo is a major research facility.

There are several ways to see the San Diego Zoo. You can walk it, taking a self-guided tour. You can also take a guided 35-minute bus tour, or hop aboard the express bus, which allows you to get on and off, or enjoy a bird's eye view of the zoo from the Skyway Aerial Tram. The zoo also offers special group tours and tours in Spanish.

Tickets to the zoo are $40 for ages 12 and up and $30 for ages 3-11. You can also purchase special combination packages including both the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, or the zoo, Safari Park and Sea World. One-day admission to the zoo is free for U.S. and foreign military with a valid, active military identification card. The zoo opens at 9 a.m. every day of the year (including holidays) and closes between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., depending on the time of year.

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