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A Day Spent at the San Antonio Zoo


When the San Antonio Zoo opened in 1914, they didn’t have many animals. From a few deer, elk, buffalo, monkeys and four bears, today the zoo is home to over 9,000 animals and 750 species. They were one of the first zoos in the country to create natural habitats for the animals, also known as a “cage-less” zoo. It’s also the only Zoo in the country to have a separate children’s Zoo area, Kronkosky’s Tiny Tot Nature Spot, designed for kids 5 and under.

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In Kronsky’s Tiny Tot Nature Spot, the little ones can run off some of that extra energy, climb on a tortoise, get their feet wet in the riverbank, and swing like a monkey. While that’s a fun spot to play, Whistler could have spent the entire day playing with butterflies at the Butterflies! Caterpillar Flight School. This exhibit, open March-November, gave us time to interact with different species of butterflies for just a $1.50 fee.

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Did you know butterflies have an average lifespan of 2-3 weeks? The San Antonio Zoo spends over $25,000 on butterflies each year, and charges $1.50 to re-stock the butterflies. We were really lucky and happened to arrive just when they were releasing a batch of newly received butterflies. Whistler laughed as they landed on his hands, arms and head. After spending nearly an hour learning about butterflies and caterpillars, we headed to Africa to see the hippos.

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Well, not Africa exactly, but the Africa Live! exhibit, where we watched the “PooPooPotamus” as Whistler calls the hippopotamus, through an underwater viewing window.

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The zoo’s newest exhibit, Africa Live 2, includes a giant aviary, colobus monkeys, okapi, wild hunting dogs and a walk through termite mound. The San Antonio Zoo also has one of the largest bird collections in the country.

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As we meandered through the zoo, we spotted many of our favorite animals. Some of them even provided us with some giggles and laughs at their silly acts or cute mustaches.

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Of course, another highly enjoyable spot for little boys is the Reptile House. From snakes to lizards, we had a blast getting up close and personal with each one.

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Kids fascinated with trains will enjoy a ride on the San Antonio Zoo Eagle Train. The train has been running since 1956 and stops include the Kiddie Park, Witte Museum, and the Japanese Tea Gardens, also known as the Sunken Gardens.

I’d like to thank the San Antonio Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for providing Whistler and I complimentary admission to spend a day exploring here last month. It was a delightful day full of smiles and education. While the San Antonio Zoo is open 365 days a year from 9:00 a.m to 5 p.m. , the ideal  time to visit is in the spring, before the Texas heat and humidity kick in, or early in the morning.

Jeana Shandraw

Jeana Shandraw

Rarely caught without a camera, Jeana is an adventurous traveler with a passion for people, cultures and food that has led her to 38 countries in 5 years. When she's not using her powers for social good, she enjoys photography, cooking and building LEGOs with her son. On occasion, you may also find her crocheting cute things to hide in her husband's underwear drawer.

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  1. December 19, 2014 at 4:34 pm — Reply

    I have visited The Melbourne Zoo and Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney and loved them. Never seen a hippo underwater,love to see that at a Zoo. In Africa if you are under the water with them,they a probably about to open their huge gaping jaws and swallow you! Lovely photos.

  2. August 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the tip Kristin, we will definitely check it out.

  3. kristin sims
    August 1, 2013 at 1:05 am — Reply

    Beautiful pictures! I am a huge butterfly fan, and if you ever happen to be in Georgia, you have to visit this:

  4. May 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm — Reply

    I love visiting the Toronto Zoo. It’s huge, and exhausting, but it’s something I could do on a regular basis and never get bored of it.

    • August 1, 2013 at 8:36 pm — Reply

      I haven’t been fortunate enough to visit yet but I’ve heard great things, hopefully it’s in my future.

  5. Kristina L
    May 18, 2013 at 10:28 am — Reply

    My boys Love the Zoo….We like to go as a family atleast every other month!

    • August 1, 2013 at 8:36 pm — Reply

      Living in Michigan our Zoo is only really open from late spring to early fall but we get there every chance we get during those months. It’s such a wonderful family-friendly activity.

  6. Kat Riley
    May 17, 2013 at 5:52 am — Reply

    What a great children’s section the San Antonio zoo has. And I loved the pics of the hippopotamus underwater.

  7. May 12, 2013 at 6:42 pm — Reply

    You learn something new everyday ..butterflies only live 2-3 weeks thats insane

  8. Susan Broughton
    May 12, 2013 at 8:39 am — Reply

    Looks like a lot of fun! I know when my daughter was small she loved going to the zoo. Everytime we traveled to the larger city (about 2 hours) we would have to take her. Theres just something about zoo’s and children!

  9. natalie nichols
    May 5, 2013 at 8:54 am — Reply

    I love taking my son to the zoo. I just hate that it’s always so crowded that you can’t see anything.

  10. May 5, 2013 at 4:13 am — Reply

    We love love the zoo. My husband likes to go to the zoo everywhere we travel to. Hopefully we get close enough to see this one one day…

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