Backstage Pass at the San Diego Zoo

Backstage Pass at the San Diego ZooI am not a big zoo person. I love the animals, but there is just something about them being in enclosures that makes me sad. I know all the reasons why it is good to have zoos, but I get bummed anyway.

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Opinions are always my own and I’ll never promote something I don’t use or believe in.

Mr. Misadventures and I had no plans to go to the zoo they day we headed to Balboa Park, but after just a few minutes of walking through the gardens and seeing sign after sign for the zoo we decided, “why not?”

It has literally been at least twenty years since I had been to the San Diego Zoo (and about as long for the San Francisco Zoo to be honest) so I was excited to go again because by reputation they are supposed to have one of the best zoos in the country. I figured if I was going to go one, why not the best?

While waiting in line (a long line, after all it was the Christmas break) I began studying the ticket board and notice the mention of a Backstage Pass. Backstage passes to concerts are cool. Baclstage passes to shows are pretty cool. Why not a zoo?

It was the coolest thing I have done in a long time and I think I have I do my fair share of cool things.

The Backstage Pass is a custom program allowing 90-minutes of up-close access to a wide range of animals. It is a daily event that is limited to a small group of people. I think the maximum group size is 40, the day we went there was about 25 people – the $99 per person probably keeps a lot of people away (P.S. going to the zoo is not cheap! but all the money goes to supporting the animals and the zoo).

I learned interesting things about each of the animals and had the opportunity to take some great up-close photos. I used a 100 mm lens and got these amazing photos. We got to feed and touch two rhino brothers.

San Diego Zoo Backstage Pass Rhino

We got to get near a precocious zebra who’s best friend is a donkey.

San Diego Zoo Backstage Pass Zebra

We got to check out a wolf with a distinct personality. I learned how cool aspect of how wolves howl. The trainer had also do our best wolf howl and while we were doing that the wolf listened. She had us do it a second time and then the wolf howled back, but he howled back in a tone that was missing from the group…who knew they were that “musically” inclined!

San Diego Zoo Backstage Pass Wolf

And isn’t this utterly adorable?

San Diego Zoo Backstage Pass

The markings on these cats were impressive.

San Diego Zoo Backstage Pass

Another highlight was learning about the cheetah and his best friend, a pound puppy. Cats of all shapes and sizes are nervous by nature and the zoo matches them up with dogs that are unflappable which calms the cheetah. Since they are buddies since they were babies, the cheetah doesn’t see the dog as a meal!

San Diego Zoo Backstage Pass Cheetah and Dog

It was such an awesome experience and if you have the extra dollars to set aside to do this on a future trip, do it. It is well worth it.

23 Comments

  1. Katie @ Domestiphobia.net
    February 4, 2013

    I tend to feel the same way about zoos, but what a cool experience!!

    Reply
  2. Mikki Cross
    February 4, 2013

    I have been to That zoo years ago but never got a “backstage pass” . It sounds awesome. I don’t know that I would let any of them drape themselves along my shoulders, but it would be fun to watch someone else allow it to get that close .

    Reply
  3. Rachel A.
    February 4, 2013

    I love the zoo! The animals are so beautiful.

    Reply
  4. kris s.
    February 4, 2013

    My little wildboy adores the zoo; having a backstage pass to such a fab zoo would make his year! Lucky, lucky you!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      February 4, 2013

      @Kris, I am sure your son would love it!

      Reply
  5. OMG I love these photos!!!!

    Reply
  6. Bobbi Lee Hitchon
    February 4, 2013

    I feel the same way about zoos, but this does look really cool. The photos are amazing and that cheetah and dog friendship is so cute! I thought I saw a wolf in Yosemite, then found out there are no wolves in California, so it was most likely a coyote. Since then I have a burning desire to see a wolf, preferably in the wild, but it be cool to see one in a zoo too.

    Reply
  7. Terra W
    February 4, 2013

    Oh the memories! We had an annual membership to the SD Zoo for years, which included the Wild Animal Park too! My kids loved visiting their favorite animals that would have never had a chance to see in real life there. We no longer live in CA, but thanks for taking me down memory lane for a few minutes!

    Reply
  8. Debbie Corbin
    February 5, 2013

    how fun!

    Reply
  9. Megan
    February 7, 2013

    Zoo’s always make me sad, I want to go see them but I feel so terrible for them 🙁

    Reply
  10. Rachel Salinas
    February 7, 2013

    I love the San Diego Zoo, but I bet it would’ve been so much more awesome if we had backstage passes!

    Reply
  11. RANDY FULGHAM
    February 7, 2013

    HAVE HEARD THIS IS THE ZOO IN THEU.S.–WOULD LIKE TO GO THERE SOME DAY

    Reply
  12. dawn johnson
    February 7, 2013

    That cat is gorgeous!

    Reply
  13. Anita Leibert
    February 8, 2013

    I totally love animals, but just as yourself, It makes me sad to see them in cages or in small quarters. I visited my local zoo aprox. 7-8 years ago and it was just awful how small of areas the animals had. I’ve never been to the San Diego zoo, so I can only hope the animals there have more space. You took some very awesome photo’s while you were there! I especially love the one with the wild cat on the woman’s shoulders. Is that you? Must have really been a fun experience. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
  14. Tara
    February 8, 2013

    We love the San Diego zoo. Such beautiful animals!

    Reply
  15. MD Kennedy
    March 3, 2013

    So cool! Five years ago my half-brother, who works for the Padres, arranged for our whole family to get a “back stage” tour at the SD Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. We got to feed blood to baby tigers, saw the lions up close (they were really eyeing the little ones – FOOD!) and pet endangered species. One of the most memorable events of our lives! I am torn about zoos, but do appreciate the work that the SD Zoo does for research and breeding – and the Wild Animal Park has spaces that are so much more like their natural habitats….even though fenced in.

    Reply
  16. Darlene Demell
    June 19, 2013

    I haven’t been to a zoo since I was a kid and that is a very long time ago. The cheetah is a very pretty animal and I love the wolf. I love tigers and their markings are amazing. Even the zebra and its markings, they are so uniform. The world is awesome with all the different animals in it. The zoo is the best place to see a lot of these animals.

    Reply
  17. carla bonesteel
    July 18, 2013

    I’ve been to the SD Zoo many times, but never got to experience it this way! You are so lucky…I would LOVE to talk to wolves!

    Reply
  18. Mary Dailey
    July 18, 2013

    I love zoos and I would love to see this one!

    Reply
  19. Tiffany
    July 18, 2013

    Very cool experience, love the photos

    Reply
  20. Rita A
    July 24, 2013

    What an exciting way to see the zoo! I never knew they had such a tour.

    Reply
  21. Kyla Hickey
    August 16, 2013

    My first trip to San Diego was last year, but I wasn’t able to make it to the zoo. I had heard such amazing things about this particular zoo and now I’m even more interested in checking in out, especially with this “backstage pass”! It’s so cool that you were able to get up close to some of these incredible animals.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top
shares