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Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens – Nature and Wildlife in LA

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens has something special in store for both animal lovers and those interested in botanical gardens.

This 135 acre zoo and botanical garden was founded in 1966 and is home to more than 1,400 birds, amphibians, mammals and reptiles. 

Comfortable shoes are a must, since there is a lot of walking but the venue should definitely go on your bucket list of things to do in LA. 

If you are in the Southeast California area, be sure to also check out my list of things to do in Sequoia National Park, another wonderful California attraction.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens combines animals and plants in lush habitats. Join me for a virtual tour. 🙉🙈🙉 Share on X

My husband and I tour the country in the middle of the summer in search of Botanical Gardens. Each one that I visit seems to have a special side to them that sets them apart from others that we have visited.

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens could each be unique and special in their own right but combining them into one attraction really takes the visit to another level.chimpanzee enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The LA Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world and also one of the most prestigious. Visiting this zoo will give you a chance to go from one exhibit to the next seeing exotic animals from all over the world.Giraffes at the LA Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Whether your interest is the apes and gorillas (as mine was) or you are more into wild cats, elephants and bears, there is something for everyone here.

If you are a zoo lover, be sure to also check out my post on the Cleveland Zoo. It’s another great place to see animals up close.

Touring the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

When you enter venue, you are immediately struck with the size of everything. From the enormous palm trees, to immense habitats and the number of animals, the attraction is one of the best that I have visited.Tall palm trees at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The scope of the Zoo and Botanic Gardens is easily demonstrated in this overview map. The place is huge and it took all of our energy to complete it in one day and we still missed some areas.Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens map

There are many parts of the zoo which allow visitors to interact with the animals for a small extra fee, One can mingle with the flamingos and feed the giraffes.Flamingos at the LA Zoo

For the children, a large carousel with big animals to ride on will provide a carnival type of feel.

The Habitats at the Los Angeles Zoo

One of the most impressive features of the zoo is the size and quality of the animal habitats and enclosures.  They are enormous, very spacious with plenty of shade and great vegetation.Exotic animal enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The enclosures were especially well suited to the individual animals.  Caves and areas to climb where prominent for the monkeys and other ape like animals which gave them a chance to “show off” for their audience.chimps playing at the LA zoo

The zoo is very large, so it took quite some time to tour. We spent the majority of a day there and weren’t able to see everything fully.

Indoor exhibits were also plentiful.  Two that appealed to me were a nocturnal house with Australian animals in (I lived in Australia for 15 years) and a large viewing area for snakes and reptiles called The Lair.The Lair exhibit for amphibians ad reptiles

The park is well divided into themed areas with animals of one type housed in adjoining exhibits to created a large overall space. 

Shows and attractions

There is a daily roster of special shows and attractions which offer a closer look at the animals. Some notable ones were:demonstrations at the LA Zoo

  • Sea and Sea Lion Demonstration
  • Elephant Care Demonstration
  • World of Birds Show
  • Otter Talk
  • Flamingo Mingle
  • Giraffe Feeding

And much, much more!

The venue also offers tours of some of the major areas of the Gardens such as reptile area and special behind the scenes tours of the giant river otter, and Elephant.

Combining the zoo with a Botanical Garden

While I love watching wild animals, my main interest is viewing gardens, and I was not disappointed.

As we walked around the zoo exhibits, it was wonderful to examine the well planted areas nearby which were populated with plants that were typical of the part of the world where the animals would live naturally.

Since the zoo is located in Los Angeles, one would expect to see lots of desert style plants and they managed this, in spades!


There were borders and borders of cacti, succulents and palms. But the look didn’t stop there. 

Staghorn ferns and colorful plants just waiting for butterflies were planted as a backdrop for the enclosures throughout the zoo.LA Botanical Gardens plants

If you are looking for laid out garden beds, all neatly labeled with the names of the plants, you won’t find that here. (check out the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Gardens in Indiana for this type of garden.)

Instead, at the LA Botanical Gardens, you will wander through a huge area of animals and plants seamlessly combined for one cohesive experience.

Australia Exhibit at the LA botanical Gardens

It was not unusual to see Australia trees and bushes giving a real look into the Australian countryside. (I lived in Australia for 15 years and this look was typical there.)

And then around the corner, Koalas and Kangaroos were housed in large pens with Eucalyptus trees and other indigenous native Australian plants.Australian wildlife at the LA Zoo

This gave the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens a cohesive look that really was very special.

The plants provide not just atmosphere for the setting but also food, and shade for the animals. The native gardens offer indigenous plants from eucalyptus to succulent and cactus gardens that are impressive in their own right.

Of special interest to me was the cycad garden which takes one back in time to the age of the dinosaurs.Cycad palms and dinosaur statue

There is something quite special about spending a day with a crowd of wild animals. The peacefulness of the attraction, coupled with the ample plantings gives one a chance to be at one with nature.

More Botanical Gardens 

If you also love touring Botanical Gardens, be sure to check out these places.  

And for animals of a different style, be sure to have a look at my post on the Oklahoma City Centennial Land Run Statues.

Visiting the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

If you are in the LA area, be sure to put the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens on your list of must see attractions.

The zoo is open every day of the year and parking is free. Although there is lots of shade at the zoo and plenty of places to sit and rest, be sure to bring sunscreen and a hat, as well as comfortable walking shoes.Shade and seat at the LA Botanical Gardens

Tip:  Buy your tickets early online. This will save you a half hour or so, should you visit on a really busy day.

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located at 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

Have you visited this zoo? Please leave your impressions of it in the comments below.

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