Location (indicated in orange on the map): San Diego Zoo, west of front plaza
Habitat/Region featured: tropical forests of Africa and Asia
Size: 3.4 acres (1.4 hectares)
Opening date: June 2005
Dining facility: Safari Kitchen
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Monkey Trails and Forest Tales
Our newest and most ambitious habitat
The regal and colorful mandrill will mesmerize you with its stare.
Prepare yourself for an entirely new way of experiencing the San Diego Zoo! The most elaborate and ambitious animal habitat in our history is now open, ushering in a new era. Joan B. Kroc's Monkey Trails and Forest Tales is the naturalistic home to more than 30 species of African and Asian birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, some of the world's most exotic and endangered wildlife. You can enjoy a three-dimensional journey into the depths of a tropical forest and a new understanding of the diversity and interconnectedness of life on Earth.
L'Hoest's guenons are one of four guenon species found in Monkey Trails.
An elevated walkway located across from the Zoo entrance takes you directly through the tree canopy where you will encounter some of the most rare and endangered monkeys on Earth: golden-bellied mangabeys, Schmidt's guenons, and mandrills, one of the largest and most colorful of primates. Or you can enter along the Asian forest path that begins across from Absolutely Apes, where you'll encounter two different species of exotic pigs, a family of huge Bornean bearded pigs and a busy group of Visayan warty pigs, the most endangered pigs in the world. And be sure to look for the secretive and mysterious clouded leopard, rarely seen in zoos but fascinating and beautiful to watch.
An African aviary is filled with exotic birds like amethyst starlings, yellow-rumped tinkerbirds, and sociable weavers, sparrow-like birds that build spectacular communal nests that resemble haystacks in trees. And at the western end of Monkey Trails is an African riverbed habitat with aquatic tanks for watching underwater activities and behaviors. Endangered pygmy hippos and slender-snouted crocodiles live side by side. And up in the trees is yet another monkey species, the Wolf's guenon.
The mysterious and secretive clouded leopard is a resident of Monkey Trails.
Across from the hippos and crocs are eye-popping displays of reptiles and amphibians. One large tank is designed to look like the undercut edge of an African riverbank habitat filled with dwarf crocodiles. Smaller exhibits house pancake tortoises, green mambas, fire skinks, and scorpions, along with endangered succulents and cycads.
- A huge ficus tree we call the Big Fig is over 50 years old. The 220-ton (224-tonne) tree was moved from its old location at the Zoo to its new home in Monkey Trails. It took 4 weeks to move the tree 214 feet (65 meters) at a rate of 91 inches (231 centimeters) per day!
- The aloe and thorn acacia trees in the African aviary are the same species the birds inhabit in the wild.
- Monkey Trails replaces some of the oldest and most outdated Zoo exhibits, including the Monkey Yard, which was built in 1922. The old monkey yard held lots of animals in a small space, but now we can have larger groups in more naturalistic environments.
- To turn the flat pavement mesa into a forested canyon, nearly 1,300 dump truck loads of dirt were removed from the Monkey Trails site prior to construction. That amount of dirt would fill up 213 city buses!
- The first animal babies to be born or hatched in Monkey Trails were amethyst starlings. This bird species had not successfully reproduced at the San Diego Zoo before, but shortly after the parents moved in to their spacious new home they built a nest and laid three eggs! Look for the starlings in the African aviary.