America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College

Moorpark Teaching Zoo Sign
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Don't want to drive 45 minutes to the nearest zoo?  Well then, stop by local Moorpark College to visit the student-run America's Teaching Zoo

This five acre zoo housing nearly 200 exotic animals is part of the college's Exotic Animal Training and Management Program and is open each weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (excluding holidays).  This interesting collection has included all sorts of animals, like alligators, geckos, monkeys, tigers, camels, snakes, ocelots and more. Animal show times at 12 pm and 2 pm. Animal demonstrations from 3:30-4 pm.

Galapagos Tortoise at America's Teaching Zoo

Galapagos Tortoise at America's Teaching Zoo

Students in the program are required to work most days and weekends.  For a truly unique wild animal experience, stop by and check it out. Don't expect anything fancy. This is a very low key place, but lots of fun as it is usually not very crowded and you can get really close to the animals. This huge Galapagos Tortoise is Clarence. Learn more about him here.

Admission (as of July 2019) $9 for adults and $7 for kids and seniors (checks and cash only). Under age 2 is free.

Visit zoo.moorparkcollege.edu or call 805.378.1441 for more information.

Another handsome occupant of the zoo - “Ghost,” the bald eagle.

Another handsome occupant of the zoo - “Ghost,” the bald eagle.

The Zoo is located at 7075 Campus Road in Moorpark.  Take the 101 North to the 23 North to the 118 East.  Exit Collins and turn left at the stop sign.  Go through 2 stoplights and turn right into the 2nd entrance past the stoplights.  Turn right in the parking lot and continue up the short hill to the right.

A zoo volunteer feeding the lion.

A zoo volunteer feeding the lion.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

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The 133 acre Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens first opened in 1966. The Zoo is home to more than 1,100 mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles representing more than 250 different species of which 29 are endangered. In addition, the Zoo’s botanical collection comprises several planted gardens and over 800 different plant species with over 7,400 individual plants. The Zoo receives over 1.5 million visitors per year and is owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles.

There's a children's zoo area with a petting zoo and fun exhibits. There's also a play area for kids that is quite popular.

Some advice! The line to get into the park can get pretty long on weekends. My advice is to buy an L.A. Zoo Membership! There is a $134 one-year family membership (as of June 2016) that gives you FREE admission for 2 adults and all of your kids, plus 2 one-time guest passes.  If you have a family of 4 and visit the park twice a year, this membership SAVES YOU MONEY as the regular entry cost is $20 for adults and $15 for ages 2 to 17. Ages 62+ is $17. (Pricing as of June 2016.) Plus, there was NO LINE to get in with your membership card! That alone gave us an extra 30 minutes in the park today.  Lastly, the card gives you 10% off your meals and gift shop purchases.  Seems like a no brainer!

Zoo membership also gives you free or discounted admission to zoos and aquariums across the country.

The Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, Reptiles (LAIR) exhibit opened in March 2012. There is a damp forest section that has Fiji Island banded iguanas, poison dart frogs, Guatemalan palm vipers and Fly River turtles, an area where you can watch staff taking care of the animals, tortoises, lizards, crocodile swamp, desert reptiles and much more. We also learned that Mexico has more reptile species than any other country on earth.

The L.A. Zoo is located at 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles. Visit www.lazoo.org or call 323.644.4200 for more information.

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Hippo relaxing at the Los Angeles Zoo

Hippo relaxing at the Los Angeles Zoo

Nicely appointed kids' play area at Los Angeles Zoo

Nicely appointed kids' play area at Los Angeles Zoo

Rhino at Los Angeles Zoo is just kickin' it

Rhino at Los Angeles Zoo is just kickin' it

Zebra at Los Angeles Zoo is having a snack

Zebra at Los Angeles Zoo is having a snack

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Santa Barbara Zoo

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The 30 acre Santa Barbara Zoo is a great family outing, with beautiful landscape, low key, clean environment and cool breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean.

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There are over 500 animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo and my family's favorites include the giraffes and the penguins.  One of the most unique features is feeding the giraffes. For a fee of $8 you are situated face to face with these friendly Masai giraffes as you give them a snack. Open weekdays from 11:30am to 1:30pm and weekends 11:30am to 2:30pm.

The penguin exhibit is mesmerizing as you are treated to happy go lucky penguins frolicking in the water.

There are plenty of other animals, exhibits and places in the park to just hang out and have a picnic lunch.  And the train ride is always fun.

So drive the 45 miles up the coast, take the kids to the zoo, grab a bite, feel the sand, do some shopping and you've got yourself a nice day out.  Better yet, buy a tax-deductible zoo membership and visit the zoo several times per year with the kids.

Speaking of membership, if you have a membership at the Los Angeles Zoo, your card will get you 50% off admission at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Conversely, a membership at the Santa Barbara Zoo will get you 50% off at the Los Angeles Zoo. Nice!

The Santa Barbara Zoo is located at 500 Niños Drive, Santa Barbara.  For more information, visit www.sbzoo.org or call 805.962.5339 or 805.962.6310.

Open every day 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., except 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas.

Ticket Prices (as of August 2016) are Adults 13-64: $17, Children 2-12 $10, Seniors 65+: $13 and Children under 2: Free. Parking: $7 (free with SB Zoo Membership)