Today, all creatures great and small inhabit 125 acres, located at the end of Sloat Boulevard at the Great Highway. In 1929, the Zoo was called The Herbert Fleishhacker Zoo, after the philanthropist who built it. The name changed to the The San Francisco Zoological Gardens at Mr. Fleishhacker’s suggestion in 1941.
Ronald Reuther became Executive Director of the SF Zoo in 1966. When he arrived, the budget was so small that the zoo had to get by with a volunteer veterinarian. In 1967, Reuther oversaw the development of “the African Scene” to attempt to show animals in their natural context. Reuther is credited with changing the focus of the SF Zoo from an entertainment venue to teaching the public about the animals and offering information about conservation. Today, zoos around the world see their main goals as preserving species and educating the public.
In recent years, the SF Zoo has made sad headlines, with the escape of Tatiana the tiger from her enclosure on Christmas day in 2007, and with the theft of Banana Sam, a squirrel monkey, in December 2011. Thankfully, Sam is back home and on exhibit in his habitat. There is more good news. Spring means baby animals will join the exhibits, such as the red-necked wallaby (different from a kangaroo) that recently made an appearance.
To learn more about the SF Zoo and plan your visit, check out: