LA Zoo

tapirFollowing a recent trip to LA and the surrounding areas I’ve got a stack of photos and local reviews to get through. In addition to the local Museum of Natural History, I made it to the zoo, aquarium, the La Brea tarpits and across to the Raymond Alf Museum, home of palaeoblogger Andy Farke. Typically for a zoo review, I’ll try to sit back and let the photos do the talking, though there were some more things to comment on here than usual which makes a change.


The most striking thing for me was simply the number of animals that are basically permanently outside. Thanks to the local climate, tropical species that in the UK (or indeed most collections) and would need an indoor area were year-round species. Thus alligators, false gharial, koalas, and a number of others had large outdoor areas and nary a heated room or glass panel was to be seen which was really nice and very refreshing.


Overall the zoo was huge in area and it’s a good long hike around it and especially up the numerous hills. This was compounded by some poor signage and the fact that a number of areas are being redeveloped. It’s annoying enough that quite a few large enclosures were shut and off limits, but still more annoying that it often took me quite a long walk to get to the right are, longer to find it because of the maps, and then fit it was closed was very irritating.


The new reptile house was absolutely superb, one of the best I have ever come across and was enhanced by the careful use of natural light for much of it (again, something that is facilitated by the location, not many places could copy this if they wanted to) and the snake collection in particular was superb. The enclosures generally were very well structured and huge (the elephant paddock is truly colossal) and there was some clever integration of them into the environments, with the aviaries on the hillsides working well.


For me though, the best thing was the huge number of species I had not seen before. Two duikers (my first ever), gerenuk, a number of snakes, less kudu, chaco peccary, both mountain and Barid’s tapirs, and red headed uakaris. On top of that, there were a number of things I had seen before but never got a good look at, or decent photos, including giant otters, harpy eagles, giant salamanders, black and white colobus, Prevost’s squirrel and servals. Generally the zoo was a superb mix of ‘classics’ (giraffe, tiger, gorilla, elephant) and real exotics and rarities, and all superbly curated. The only real frustration was the closed areas and I’d love to go back when it is in its full splendour, but it was a superb visit and ticked a ton of boxes for me, especially on the new species front.


3 Responses to “LA Zoo”

  1. 1 Blaine Bowman 25/03/2015 at 4:37 pm

    Hey…glad you liked it. We live just an hour from there and it is, indeed, laid out very well. The biggest draw back to our location is the summer weather which, at times, can be rather oppressive to some of the animals. The heat and the smog hang around and I think some of the animals less adapted to that climate suffer. But overall it is a great location. Te San Diego Wild Animal Park is also impressive. On your next trip it would be worth your time.

    Why were you out here? If you ever make the trip again I have a nine year old (almost 10) paleontologist who would love to meet you (in his world you’d be sharing ideas as peers! LOL!).

    • 2 David Hone 25/03/2015 at 4:47 pm

      It was a kind of combined research trip and holiday (hence the combination of palaeo museums and then getting out to the zoo at the weekend). I’m generally happy to meet up with people if I have time, but naturally my trips are often short and rather hectic.

      Yeah, I didn’t consider the summer and I can see how it could get very hot there at times.

  1. 1 Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach | Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings Trackback on 26/03/2015 at 3:34 pm
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