San Diego Zoo Opens Wildlife Explorers Basecamp

Just in time for summer, the San Diego Zoo opened its new Wildlife Explorers Basecamp. Built on the site of the former Children’s Zoo, this three acre interactive exhibit is designed to educate guests of all ages on wildlife conservation. It especially caters to  kids, showing them the role they play in creating a world where all life thrives.

Wildlife Explorers Basecamp is divided into four zones — Rainforest, Wild Woods, Marsh Meadows, and Desert Dunes. Eight buildings and habitats dispersed throughout the zones feature wildlife that live in these ecosystems. Each has unique offerings including water play, a tree house, touch-screen games, and artificial intelligence (AI) to name a few.

Here’s what to expect on your visit to Wildlife Explorers Basecamp!

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Explorers Basecamp Rainforest


A 10,000 square-foot building dubbed “Spineless Marvels” houses the fascinating world of invertebrates.

Inside, a huge, floor-to-ceiling fiberglass honeycomb signals visitors they’re entering the bee exhibit. Along the wall, glass panes allow a peek into a real-life working beehive.

While most of us know one or two bee species, there are in fact over 4,000 different kinds!

Spiders, scorpions, leafcutter ants, jungle nymphs, grasshoppers and other insects live here, too. Curators took graphics to the next level with colorful, cartoon murals depicting the role these creatures play in nature. The pièce-de-résistance is on the dome ceiling where an animated meadow is projected with hundreds of fluttering Monarch butterflies and dragonflies.

San Diego Zoo Wild Woods

Wild Woods

A 20-foot tree stands in the middle of this playground area. Children can run with abandon across a suspension bridge and through a tunnel made of rope, mimicking the nearby squirrel monkeys who swing on ropes and romp in their enclosure.

On hot days, the splash-pad complete with waterfall, meandering stream, and water jets offer a respite from the heat.

Cool Critters building in Marsh Meadows

Marsh Meadows

The aptly named Cool Critters exhibit is center stage in this zone. Pathways leading to the two-story building are flanked by water teaming with frogs and fish, giving the illusion of a marsh.

Step over the threshold into a world of crocs, turtles, eels, and iguanas alongside educational classrooms where learning opportunities abound.

Overhead, moving lights of blue and green resemble rippling water casting a bayou mood throughout the space.

Desert Dunes

This zone invites children to climb, scramble and hop among boulders or explore caves alongside fennec foxes, prairie dogs, and burrowing owls.

Lean about the wildlife who live in these desert conditions. The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is instrumental in educating the public about sustaining these animals in their natural environment. Thus far, they’ve reintroduced more than 44 endangered species to native habitats.

Providing places like Wildlife Explorers Basecamp demonstrates wildlife care and conservation science to guests. This in turn cultivates awareness of what steps can be taken to ensure we no longer have an endangered and extinct species list.    

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