The Guide to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Opened in November 1966, the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens is one of the city’s most popular destinations, drawing nearly two millions visitors each year, and for good reason. It is home to more than 2,100 animals representing over 270 species, many rare or endangered. So whatever your favorite - meerkats or mandrills, komodo dragons or kangaroos - chances are you’ll get to see them here. Cool, overcast days offer some of the best viewing opportunities. But even on a hot summer afternoon there's plenty to see and do. The L.A. Zoo is open 10am to 5pm every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day (December 25).

Meerkats at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Meerkats | Photo: Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens


Advance online reservations are required for entry for general admission guests. Walk-up ticket sales are not recommended or guaranteed. Reciprocal and Military discounts are only available at the Zoo’s box office.

Family and giraffe at the L.A. Zoo
Photo: Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Know Before You Go

Face coverings are recommended for all guests aged 2 and older in indoor and enclosed public settings, including the LAIR, retail and food service locations, restrooms, and Safari Shuttle. Guests who are not fully vaccinated are recommended by the CDC to wear face coverings outside as well.

Per the latest research and recommendations, all mammals are now considered vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. For the health and welfare of the animals in the Zoo's care, some habitats and experiences will remain closed or have restricted access to ensure physical distancing. The majority of animal exhibits are accessible to guests.

For an updated list of exhibits and activities that are currently unavailable, visit the L.A. Zoo website.

Baby giraffe at the L.A. Zoo
Phillip and his son | Photo: L.A. Zoo

New at the Zoo

In April 2022, the L.A. Zoo announced the birth of a Masai giraffe - at 6 feet 7 inches, he's the tallest giraffe calf in the Zoo's history! Read the Zoo blog for more about some of the species currently with young at different ages, along with their adorable pics.

Billy the elephant at the L.A. Zoo
Billy the elephant | Photo: L.A. Zoo

Elephants of Asia

The largest habitat in the history of the L.A. Zoo, Elephants of Asia occupies center stage at the heart of the Zoo. The sprawling exhibit boasts a waterfall, deep bathing pools, a high-tech barn, and plenty of room to roam.

Female jaguar Johar at the Los Angeles Zoo
Female jaguar Johar | Photo: Los Angeles Zoo, Facebook

Rainforest of the Americas

The Rainforest of the Americas brings the wonder and beauty of this amazing ecosystem to life in a 2.2-acre immersive experience. Your jungle adventure begins in a two-story Amazonian stilt house - perch on the upper level to peer into the harpy eagles’ hillside habitat or observe otters cavorting in the lagoon below. From the lower level, come face-to-face with piranha, stingrays, and more. Continue along the winding path to encounter howler monkeys, Baird’s tapirs, dwarf caiman, jaguars, and a dazzling display of poison dart frogs. Along the way, stroll through a strangler fig, sit in an oropendola nest, and soak in the sights and sounds of the Amazon.

Armenian viper at The LAIR in the L.A. Zoo
Armenian viper at The LAIR | Photo: L.A. Zoo


The award-winning LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, Reptiles) exhibit showcases more than 60 species of amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles - many of which can be seen at no other zoo in the world. The LAIR is divided into six sections: the Damp Forest, Betty’s Bite & Squeeze (named for longtime L.A. Zoo champion Betty White), Care & Conservation, Arroyo Lagarto, Crocodile Swamp, and the Desert LAIR.

Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel at the L.A. Zoo
Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel | Photo by Jamie Pham, courtesy of L.A. Zoo


Located next to Treetops Terrace, the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel features 64 unique hand-carved wooden figures and a universally accessible standing chariot. The carousel is open on weekends from 10:30am to 4pm. Entry is $3 per person. Children under 42 inches in height must be accompanied by one adult (at no additional charge).

Another family-friendly attraction is the Neil Papiano Play Park, a universally accessible playground that invites kids of all abilities to play together. The playground includes animal-themed sculptures for climbing, toddler and grass areas, shaded benches and tables, and misters to help cool off on hot days.

Nigerian Dwarf goat at Muriel's Ranch in the L.A. Zoo
Nigerian Dwarf goat at Muriel's Ranch | Photo: L.A. Zoo

The whole family is invited to get up close with goats and sheep in the animal contact area known as Muriel’s Ranch, located in the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo. The Ranch houses Shetland sheep and Nigerian Dwarf goats, a small species that only reaches a height of two feet - the adults weigh between 20 and 50 pounds. These colorful and curious goats are a kid-friendly size and a must-see for the young and young-at-heart. Brushes are available for guests to groom the goats! Muriel's Ranch is open from 10am to 1pm on Monday and Thursday-Sunday.

Reggie the Alligator at the L.A. Zoo
Reggie the alligator | Photo by Jamie Pham, courtesy of L.A. Zoo


Here are a few of the food options to enjoy at the Zoo during your visit:

Named for the Zoo's beloved North American alligator, Reggie's Bistro is located next to the International Marketplace gift shops at the main entrance. Reggie’s Bistro serves up fresh salads, wraps, burgers, sandwiches, and kids’ meals. Pepsi products, craft beers, and California wines are available.

Opened in July 2022, Bean Sprouts is conveniently located near Rainforest of the Americas and a Safari Shuttle stop, and offers their signature "hip & healthy" menu for the whole family.

Guests are welcome to bring their own food and drinks, and picnic at tables near the main entrance, or at several shaded areas located throughout the Zoo. Glass, disposable straws, and alcoholic beverages are not permitted.

Safari Shuttle at the L.A. Zoo
Safari Shuttle | Photo: L.A. Zoo

Getting Around

The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens spans 133 acres. There's lots of walking, so comfortable shoes are a must. Strollers, wheelchairs, and scooters are available to rent on a first come, first served basis. Purchases must be made with a credit card. The rentals are sanitized before and after each use.

Another option is the Safari Shuttle, which stops at six different spots along the perimeter of the zoo. There is an additional charge to use the shuttle. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2.50 for kids 2-12. You can ride it as often as you like.

KultureCity Quiet Area at the Australia Section in the L.A. Zoo
KultureCity Quiet Area at the Australia Section | Photo by Carl Myers, courtesy of L.A. Zoo


In March 2022, the Los Angeles Zoo was certified by world-renowned non-profit KultureCity as a sensory inclusive venue. The Zoo joins over 900 other KultureCity certified venues in five countries serving those with sensory needs.

At the International Marketplace, sensory bags equipped with noise canceling headphones (provided by Puro Sound Labs), fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads will be available to all guests who may benefit from their use. Prior to visiting the Zoo, families should download the free KultureCity App from the App or Google Play Stores, where they can view what sensory features are available at the Zoo and where they can access them. Also on the app is the Social Story, which will provide a preview of what to expect while enjoying a day at the L.A. Zoo.

Jaguar and kid at the L.A. Zoo
Jaguar and new friend | Photo by Jamie Pham, courtesy of L.A. Zoo


If you are a family of four with school-age kids and you plan to visit the zoo more than once in the coming months, it is well worth becoming a member at the Family level. You’ll enjoy unlimited free visits during your membership, express zoo entry, members' only exhibit previews, docent led tours, discounts at zoo gift shops and restaurants, and free or discounted admission to more than 170 zoos and aquariums, including 15 in California.