Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens
500 Ninos Drive
Santa Barbara, CA  93103

(805) 962-5339 (Phone)   |   (805) 962-1673 (Fax)
Year Founded:
   The Santa Barbara Zoo is dedicated to the preservation, conservation and enhancement of the natural world and its living treasures through education, research, and recreation. There are over 600 animals (180+ species), carousel, train, and much more.
    Many people become members of the zoo becoming involved in helping to conserve rare and endangered species. As a Member, you will receive free or discounted admission to over 100 other zoos in the United States. As a private, non-profit corporation, we need support of our members to care for our animals, acquire new animals, and build new exhibits.
    The Zoo offers workshops to help teachers integrate the Zoo into their science curriculum. Teachers will learn to use biological artifacts as instructional models. After completing the workshop, teachers will be able to lead a tour using our hands-on Bio-Bags during their zoo visit! The course will include an introduction to Zoology, Zoo history, and environmental education.
    The Zoo is located on over 30 acres with its lovely gardens and picturesque views overlooking East Beach -- approximately 30 minutes North of Ventura, and 30 minutes South of Solvang. Note: We do not allow skateboards, rollerblades, bicycles, RV's, dogs or barbecues in the Zoo or the parking lot. Thank you for your cooperation.
Animals on Exhibit:
    Alligators & Crocodiles,   Amphibians,   Birds,   Elephants,   Fish,   Giraffes,   Hoofstock,   Hyraxes,   Invertebrates,   Lions, Tigers, etc.,   Lizards,   Mammals,   Parrots,   Pigeons & Doves,   Primates,   Snakes,   Swine,   Turtles & Tortoises,   Wading Birds,   Waterfowl,  

Business Hours:
    10 AM to 5 PM every day except Thanksgiving & Christmas.
Location Type:
Payment Accepted:
    Cash,   Check,   Amex,   MasterCard,   Visa,  
Languages Spoken:
    English,   Spanish,  
General Business Classification:
    Museums, Historic Sites, Attractions

Legal Entity:
Number of Employees:
    51 - 100
Average Visit:
    2 hours
Parking On-Site?
Guided Tours?
    By Appointment Only
Gift Certificates?
    Available for Sale
Classes Offered?
 Recent Buzzes!!
2/14/14 - This Sunday .... Fox Festival at the Zoo
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Both local Channel Island foxes and the Zoo’s new African fennec foxes are highlighted at this event that’s equal parts education and fun. Learn about the Channel Island foxes’ dramatic comeback from a population crash, thanks to conservation efforts, which the Zoo participated in. View the wee fennec foxes with their oversized ears. Fox-fun crafts and keeper talks add to the fun.
Presented by ... Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens
Venue ... Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens
10/23/13 - Boo at the Zoo -- This Weekend!
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Have a spooktacularly good time as the Zoo transforms for three nights of safe, traffic-free trick-or-treating during this merry-not-too-scary event. Features a Trick & Treat Trail, Boo-Choo-Choo train rides, Creepy Crawly encounters, and much more.
Boo at the Zoo is designed for children ages 2 - 12 accompanied by an adult. Advance ticket purchase is recommended.
Cost: Adults $12, Children (2-12) $10. $1 off for SB Zoo Members. Tickets available now at the Zoo or online. Boo-Choo-Choo tickets priced separately on a first-come, first-served basis at the train station from 5:30 p.m. until they sell out: $4/adults, $3.50/children 2-12. $1 off for SB Zoo Members. Parking for non-members is $5.
Early Closing: the Zoo will close at 3:30 p.m. on all three days of Boo at the Zoo. General admission ticket sales will end at 2:30 p.m., and Zoo Member admission ends at 3:00 p.m.
Presented by ... Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens
Venue ... Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens  Website
5/24/13 - Zoo Exhibits Reopen for Memorial Day
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The Santa Barbara Zoo reopens a walkway and two exhibits just in time for Memorial Day weekend thanks to the completion of a phase of construction on the $7.5 million Discovery Pavilion.
The popular Asian small-clawed otters are on view on Saturday (May 25) for the first time since construction began in September 2012. Their exhibit now features enhanced viewing areas and a fully accessible, ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) approved walkway. The Zoo’s American alligator, named Mary Lou, has been given a prominent space nearby, in the exhibit previously occupied by her “cousin,” a Chinese alligator.
“We want to highlight Mary Lou during our 50th Anniversary. At age 52, she is our oldest resident, and she has lived here just about since the Zoo opened in 1963,” said Rich Block, Zoo CEO.
Also reopening is the walkway to the lower Zoo, which leads to snow leopards, the Wings of Asia aviary, Indian crested porcupines, Amur leopard, and Gibbon Island. The walkway also accesses Chilean flamingos, Ruppell’s griffon vultures, Rainforest Passage, and Asian elephants. During construction, the only way to these areas was from the top of the Zoo, and required backtracking to exit.
Grading and foundation work on Discovery Pavilion began following Labor Day 2012. Still closed due to construction are the Eewww exhibit and Tropical Aviary. Both are anticipated to reopen this summer.
Scheduled to open in Spring 2014, Discovery Pavilion will be a highly functional, ADA-compliant, easily accessible, conservation education facility. Conveniently located on Zoo grounds, it will serve as a hub for school field trips, Zoo Camp and other current programs, and allow for wider and increased educational offerings, including speakers, advanced volunteer training, teen programs and more. The Pavilion will also house the Zoo’s new animal kitchen, and visitors will be able to observe food preparation through a large viewing window,
The Discovery Pavilion will be accessible for the entire community, and available for use by private events, similar to the way the Zoo’s outdoor areas are rented for weddings, company picnics and other gatherings.
More than $6.9 million has been raised for construction of Discovery Pavilion, but there is still 8% to be raised. “We urge the community to help us raise this last bit,” adds Block. “Donations of any size will add up to get us there. It’s a great way show support during our 50th Anniversary year.”   Website
5/17/13 - It's the Fox Festival -- Saturday at the Zoo
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Both local Channel Island foxes and the Zoo’s new African fennec foxes are highlighted at this event that’s equal parts education and fun. Learn about the Channel Island foxes’ dramatic comeback from a population crash, thanks to conservation efforts, which the Zoo participated in. View the wee fennec foxes with their oversized ears. Fox-fun crafts and keeper talks add to the fun.
Presented by ... Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens
Venue ... Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens  Website
4/29/13 - Second giraffe calf born at SB Zoo
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A second giraffe at the Santa Barbara Zoo has given birth, just 10 days after a male calf was born. Betty Lou, a five-year old Masai giraffe, gave birth in the Giraffe Barn yesterday (April 28) at 1 p.m. after about two hours of labor. The calf stood up after 40 minutes, and is nursing normally; supplemental feedings are not expected to be needed. A medical exam at 3 p.m. today (Monday, April 29) will determine the calf’s sex, assess its health, and measure its weight and height.
“The birth was easy and uneventful and both mother and baby are doing well,” reports Zoo Director Nancy McToldridge. “The new calf appears smaller than Dane, but we won't know the sex until the exam this afternoon. We look forward to sharing this new arrival with our guests, but it needs a few days to bond with Betty Lou, meet the other giraffes, and adjust to being on four gangly legs.”
Audrey, the Zoo’s other female Masai giraffe, gave birth to male calf Dane on Thursday, April 18, 2013, at 3:52 p.m. after about two hours and 15 minutes of labor. He appears to be nursing normally and debuted on exhibit last Tuesday, April 23.
The new calf will not be on view to the media or on exhibit for several days. “Betty Lou is being a very attentive mother, and is exhibiting more protective behaviors than Audrey did, so barn visits are limited to Zoo staff for the near future,” notes Sheri Horiszny, Director of Animal Programs.
Audrey and the other new calf Dane are also off exhibit. “They are beginning a period of introductions to the new addition, which are difficult to predict,” adds Horiszny, “especially given Betty Lou’s protective behaviors.” Michael, the Zoo’s male giraffe and sire of both calves, is on exhibit.
The new calf’s name has been selected by the Dreier family, sponsors of the Zoo’s giraffe herd, and will be Sunshine if the calf is female and Tikit if it is male.   Website
4/19/13 - Giraffe born at Santa Barbara Zoo yesterday
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One of two pregnant Masai giraffes at the Santa Barbara Zoo has given birth, and second birth is not far away. Audrey, a five-year old giraffe, gave birth in the Giraffe Barn yesterday (April 18) at 3:52 a.m. after about two hours and 15 minutes of labor to what is believed to be a male calf. The calf stood up after 50 minutes, and appears to be about 6’3” tall. Audrey is the same giraffe who gave birth to the “surprise calf” Daniel in January 2011 (see below). But unlike Daniel, the new calf appears to be nursing normally and not expected to need any hand-rearing. A medical exam at 1:30 p.m. today will assess the calf’s health, get his weight and height, and determine when he will be on view to the media and to the public.
“This birth is special in so many ways,” said Zoo Director Nancy McToldridge. “It is always a joy to see a new life begin and, in a way, it helps ease the pain of losing Daniel last summer. Scientifically, this calf is very valuable genetically to all regionally managed Masai giraffes because his father, Michael, is not related to any of the female Masai giraffes in the United States.”
Betty Lou, the Zoo’s other Masai female, is also pregnant and could give birth any time. Giraffes have a 14.5-month gestation period. Counting from the very first day Michael had access to the females, that period ended on April 6. But no one knows for sure when they actually became pregnant, the second birth could happen days or weeks from now.
Updates about the calf and second birth are posted daily on the Zoo’s website,   Website
2/25/13 - Save the Date! -- Princess Day! -- March 9
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Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and other beloved princesses appear in person for photos with guests – along with fairies, frogs and toads. There is a “Kiss a Frog” booth, plus face painting, animal encounters, music and dancing, bounce houses, games and more, all with princess-themes. Costumes are encouraged; frog kissing is optional. Costumed boys are also welcome, be they knights, princes, cowboys, pirates or astronauts.
The event is to draw attention to the crisis facing frogs and amphibian species around the world. Habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, combined with a rapidly spreading fungal disease threaten up to one-third of the world’s amphibians with extinction. “This is a fun way to talk about a serious issue,” says Santa Barbara Zoo CEO Rich Block, “The world’s amphibians are in trouble, and there are no easy answers to stem the shocking drop in their populations. Accredited zoos and aquariums are working to address the issues in the wild, and are creating temporary captive ‘lifeboats’ of some of the most threatened species.” He adds: “Conservation isn’t only for adults. Kids, even ones in shiny, pink princess dresses, can and do make a difference.”
It’s B.Y.O.T. (Bring Your Own Tiara), and costumes are encouraged… frog kissing is optional.
The event is free with Zoo admission: $14 for adults, $10 for children 2-12 and seniors 65+, and children under 2 free. Parking is $6. Early 9:00 a.m. entry for SB Zoo Members only.
Venue: Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens.  Website
1/17/13 - This Saturday is Penguin Day at the Zoo
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What is black and white, and don’t fly… but waddle? A penguin, of course! A day-long celebration across the country on Sunday, January 20 aims to draw attention to these popular birds, and the Santa Barbara Zoo will do their part with a Waddling Contest for kids and penguin-centric crafts. Zoo guests also can watch the Zoo’s flock of 18 Humboldt penguins being hand-fed by keepers, learn about their challenges in the wild, and meet Lucky, the penguin who wears a specially designed shoe. Information about how to shop for sustainable seafood will also be available. Activities are free with Zoo admission. The Santa Barbara Zoo celebrates this national Penguin Awareness Day on Sunday, January 20, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crawford Family Penguin House.
“Not all penguins come from Antarctica,” points out Rachel Ritchason, Curator of Birds at the Zoo. “Our Humboldt penguins are from the coast of Chile and Peru, a temperate zone similar to Santa Barbara.”
Of the 17 penguin species, the Humboldt is among the most threatened due to over-fishing of their food supply, entanglement in fishing nets, commercial removal of the guano they use for burrows, and predation. In August 2010, they were granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.   Website
12/23/12 - Santa Barbara Zoo will be open on Christmas Day
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For the first time in its nearly 50-year history, the Santa Barbara Zoo is open on Christmas Day, December 25, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. As a gift to the community, Zoo admission is half-price on Christmas Day. The Zoo is also open on Christmas Eve from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with full-price admission.
“It’s great place for kids to blow off steam after all the excitement of Christmas morning and a perfect outing to get relatives out of the house while a holiday meal is being prepared,” says Zoo Director Nancy McToldridge, “and we’re happy to be able to give the community our gift of half-price admission on that day.”
The Zoo’s Animal Care staff have planned special enrichment activities for the animals and scheduled keeper talks throughout both days. A schedule will be posted at Admissions.   Email   Website
12/1/12 - Snow Leopard Festival postponed to Sunday, December 9
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In spite of early optimism, the Santa Barbara Zoo has decided to postpone the popular Snow Leopard Festival from tomorrow (Sunday, Dec. 2) one week to the new date of Sunday, December 9. “In speaking with parents and our guests, we determined there was no down-side in waiting a week,” said Dean Noble, Director of Marketing, “We’ve got our fingers and paws crossed that it will be a beautiful, or at least dry, day next Sunday.”
The Snow Leopard Festival spotlights the highly endangered big cats and offers families a chance to sled and romp in tons of snow, skate in an innovative iceless rink, meet Santa for photos, and have more fun. Snow is also used as enrichment for the snow leopards, elephants and other Zoo creatures. Keeper talks focus on the challenges facing snow leopards in the wild.   Email   Website
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