Zoo Mission & History
San Antonio Zoological Society Mission
It is the mission of the San Antonio Zoological Society to foster appreciation and concern for all living things.
We are dedicated to providing:
- The highest standards of care for our animal and plant collections.
- A diverse educational and high quality recreational experience for all visitors.
- All the resources at our disposal for conservation of the Earth’s flora and fauna.
San Antonio Zoo History
San Antonio's first zoo consisted of a collection of animals assembled in San Pedro Park in the 1800s. In 1914, Colonel George W. Brackenridge, one of the city's leading citizens and founder of the San Antonio Express-News, placed buffalo, elk, deer, monkeys, a pair of lions, and four bears on land he had deeded over to the city in what is now known as Brackenridge Park. This collection became the San Antonio Zoo.
Throughout its history, the Zoo's volunteer leaders have not only provided generous financial support, they have also encouraged innovation. In November 1929, two of the first cageless exhibits in America--the Barless Bear Terraces and the Primate Paradise--opened, offering visitors unprecedented views of animals. When the Richard Friedrich Aquarium was dedicated in 1948, it was described in the local press as "the world's greatest." The Hixon Bird House, funded through the efforts of Colonel Frederick C. Hixon, opened in 1966, featuring a simulated tropical rain forest and free-flying birds. The Zoo's bird collection is now one of the world's largest.
Hixon understood well, as have the Zoo's many benefactors over the years, that great zoos are far more than collections of exotic animals; they are also centers for world-class research, education, and conservation.
Much about the San Antonio Zoo has changed since Colonel Brackenridge assembled his collection of animals in 1914. While the Colonel may not have imagined what the San Antonio Zoo would become, we can only hope that he would appreciate all that the Zoo has accomplished for the people of San Antonio, for science, for children, and for the Earth itself. For 99 years, the collective efforts of dedicated individuals have helped the San Antonio Zoo become one of the best in the nation.
The Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals representing 750 species on 56 acres, of which 34 acres are public pathways. More than 1,000,000 guests visit the San Antonio Zoo annually - 13,155 of those being children participating in education programs and 80,000 school children coming on field trips.