San Antonio Zoo: Ideal Time to Go + 12 Amazing Animals to See

Written by Nina Phillips
Published: December 4, 2023
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San Antonio Zoo is one of the most popular zoos in the country. It’s full of over 750 species of animals. It’s spread out enough that it can take around three hours for the average person to explore. Even if you’re rushing, it will take you a good hour and a half to visit.

Because it’s so popular, it’s not always easy to get into the zoo. It’s often very busy. If you want an idea of when the best time to visit the zoo and some of the animals you’ll see in the park, continue reading below.

About San Antonio Zoo

The San Antonio Zoo is located in San Antonio, Texas. It’s one of the most visited zoos in the state.

It was first opened in 1914 when a man named George W. Breckenridge donated some animals to the city. According to the records, he donated buffalo, monkeys, deer, lions, and bears. These donations went to starting up what would later be called the San Antonio Zoo.

Then, in 1929, the zoo created what was known as cageless exhibits. They were some of the first cageless exhibits in zoos throughout the whole country. Though the practice was mostly abandoned, due to the dangers to people and animals, there are still some exhibits that allow you to get much closer than normal to some of the animals.

San Antonio Zoo is happy to celebrate another anniversary.

Now, the zoo stretches out over 56 acres, and the zoo makes the most out of the space to provide you with plenty of entertainment. The zoo is now over 100 years old and has managed to stay a public favorite throughout all this time. All the while, the zoo still supports and advocates for all of their animals.

The Best Time to Visit San Antonio Zoo

There’s a lot to see and do at the zoo and it’s perfect for all ages.

There are a lot of factors to think about when visiting the San Antonio Zoo. You can pick seasons that aren’t so busy, or pick based on some of the events the zoo is hosting.

The Best Season to Visit the Zoo

Unless you are familiar with the heat of South Texas, it’s not a great idea to go in the summer. It tends to be very hot and leaves many people miserable. Additionally, summer is when most people take their vacations. This means that prices are usually higher, and there are bigger crowds to navigate through.

February or March is considered the best time to visit San Antonio, according to the locals. The temperatures are rather reasonable and the weather is sunny. If you like temps above 70 degrees Fahrenheit but you don’t want it to get too hot, then April and May are also good decisions.

Generally, anywhere between November and April works best. Depending on which temperatures you prefer, you may like the cool weather in the middle of winter or the warmer, sunnier weather at either end of the range.

Zoo Events

However, if you’re visiting, you may want to pick a time that allows you to experience certain events and the culture the best. For example, in the middle of April, there are the Fiesta Festivities throughout the city, including at the zoo.

Around Christmas, there are lights at the zoo. If you want to feel the holiday cheer and see the animals, this is a perfect way to do both. You get to enter the zoo later at night and look at all the festive Christmas lights put up by the zoo staff.

The lights at San Antonio Zoo are sure to impress.

You also get the chance to see some animals. You might not see them all, but you’ll get to see quite a few. And, since many animals are more active at night, you may have the chance to see them moving around more than normal.

There are plenty of other events at the zoo and the city that may determine when you might enjoy visiting the most.

The Best Time of Day and Week to Visit

No matter when you decide to go in the year, the mornings are the best time to go. This allows you to spend as much time as you want in the zoo while also having time to get in and explore before the crowds grow large. Avoid weekends when possible, as weekends tend to be just as busy as public holidays.

Animals You Will See at the San Antonio Zoo

With over 750 species to see, there are a lot of animals to choose from to put on this list. The animals below are just some of the cutest and most popular species to see running around.

1. Okapi

The baby Okapi at San Antonio Zoo is named Gates.

Okapi are strange animals that look like a mix of zebra, giraffe, and deer. They are more closely related to giraffes than any of the other three above, being their only living relative.

2. Kangaroo

If you’re good, you’re allowed to get right up close and personal with the kangaroos at the zoo.

Many zoos offer opportunities to see kangaroos and similar species up close, including the zoo in San Antonio. The ones at San Antonio Zoo are red kangaroos.

3. Lemurs

The lemurs at San Antonio Zoos have plenty of space to run around.

Thanks to donations, the lemurs at the San Antonio Zoo have a fun series of paths around the zoo to play in. So don’t forget to look up or you might miss them as they go by.

4. Meerkat

If you’re lucky, you may come across some baby meerkats mixed into the group.

Meerkats are already adorable, popping their heads up out of their holes when looking for predators. However, they are nothing compared to the baby versions. Make sure you stop by and watch these little animals play around before moving on.

5. Tree Kangaroo

This tree kangaroo goes by the name of Libby.

Like regular kangaroos, tree kangaroos are marsupials. They have the impressive ability to jump up to 60 feet high into trees without any injury.

6. Rock Hyrax

Rock hyraxes aren’t animals you’ll often find at the zoo, but you’ll find them in San Antonio.

Rock hyraxes are found in areas like Africa and the Middle East. They also go by the name “rock rabbit” or “Cape hyrax”. They’re social mammals that enjoy working together in a group. Though they’re considered pests in their native habitats, they’re quite adorable to see in a zoo.

7. Hippo

Hippos may be fearsome in the wild, but they’re quite adorable in zoos.

Have you ever had the opportunity to see a hippo napping underwater while fish swim around it? At the San Antonio Zoo, you can do just that.

8. Lions

Lions need enrichment and yummy snacks just like the rest of us.

For Sarabi’s (one of the lions at the zoo) birthday, the lions at the zoo got a lovely surprise of whipped cream. As you can see, the zoo allows you to get up close with the lions while remaining safe with these thick glass windows.

9. Aracari

Aracari are toucans that enjoy socializing and living in groups.

While the zoo doesn’t allow people to see the young babies until they’re healthy and safe in person, you can watch them growing up on some of San Antonio Zoo’s many social profiles. This little aracari is just one of many babies you’ll find at the zoo.

10. Rhino

Rhinos are another common sight at San Antonio Zoo.

If you go to the Africa section of San Antonio Zoo, you’ll come across rhinos. If you’re lucky, they may even be playing around with some of their enrichment toys.

11. Armadillo

Watching little baby Wilson eat is the highlight of many people’s day.

Wilson is a small and very loving armadillo. You’ll often see him chasing after his keepers, begging for little scratches.

12. Sloth

One of the baby sloths at the zoo is sure to warm your heart.

Cute and cuddly sloths are just one of many, many animals you’ll see at the zoo. The ones at the zoo are two-fingered sloths and they’re housed with tropical butterflies when they aren’t out and about on ambassador missions.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Image Source/Vetta via Getty Images

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About the Author

Nina is a writer at A-Z Animals. Her focus is on wildlife, national parks, and the environment. She has been writing on animals for over three years. Nina holds a Bachelor's in Conservation Biology, which she uses when talking about animals and their natural habitats. In her free time, Nina also enjoys working on writing her novels and short stories. As a resident of Colorado, Nina enjoys getting out in nature, traveling, and watching snow hit the mountains from her enclosed porch.

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