Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Zoo entrance
Photo by: Geographer, CC

Visiting the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens should be one of the top things on your list when you are in Los Angeles, California. This place home to more than 1,100 animals representing more than 250 different species of which 29 are endangered. The Botanical Garden is comprised of several planted gardens with over 800 different plant species and 7,400 individual plants.

The zoo creates an environment for recreation and discovery, and inspires an appreciation of wildlife through exhibits and education. Opened in November, 1996 and covering 133 acres, this wondrous and captivating place is a must-see for any animal lover.

The facility encompasses several visually stunning areas that include habitats for various unique and endangered species. Each habitat is beautifully themed with hand painted murals of damp and misty forests, mountain ranges and vistas, red rock formations and dry arid deserts to reflect the natural habitats of the varied species in the zoo.


Opened in 2010, this is the largest exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo. The exhibit focuses on the rich connection between elephants and the cultures of Thailand, India, Cambodia and China. There are several interpretive areas where visitors will find various buildings and sculptures that reflect the history and culture of these countries.

One of the most popular and fascinating exhibits at zoo is the Camp Gorilla Reserve. Opened in 2007, Camp Gorilla Reserve is home to 7 gorillas, where they live in habitats that closely resemble their native West African jungle with waterfalls, brush and flowers. There is a thick, clear viewing window from which you can come up close to these interesting gorillas with an unobstructed view.

In addition to seeing the gorillas, you can also take a tour to Red Ape Rain Forest, a recreation of Southeast Asian jungle. The forest features Bornean orangutans. These chimps swing around branches and climb on artificial poles. Visitors can have a closer view through a thick glass window.

LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates and Reptiles) is the latest entry to the LA zoo. LAIR is an indoor-outdoor exhibit complex that features some of the rarest species that cannot be found in any zoo in the world. This newest exhibit features over sixty species of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and some of the most rare and endangered species.

The Botanical Gardens flourish throughout the zoo with more than 800 plant species that decorate the park with brilliant colors and gorgeous plantings of California wildflowers and island blooms.

Shows and Activities

The LA Zoo organizes several activities and shows for entertainment and education. The most popular among them is the World of Birds show, where birds perform different tricks. The California Condor Rescue zone is specifically designed to teach kids how California Condors are protected. “Animals and You” is a fifteen minute animal encounters where visitors can come up close to their favorite animals. This event is scheduled only on the weekends.

Places to Eat

There are a number of places to eat while visiting Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The Safari Cafe is a coffee shop with both outdoor and indoor seating arrangement. Churro Factory, Sweet Treats, La Casita, Gorilla Grill, Zoo Grill, Mahale Cafe and Silverback Café are other options. There are two shopping centers located in the zoo so that the visitors can go home with zoo memorabilia, African crafts and educational toys.

Hours of Operation & Location

This attraction is open Monday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM with last admission being at 4:00 pm. The zoo is closed on Christmas. The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located at 5333 Zoo Drive in Los Angeles, CA. It is housed within Griffith Park – the largest municipal park in US.

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