The San Antonio Zoological Gardens and Aquarium is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoo in Midtown San Antonio, Texas, United States. The 35-acre (14 ha) zoo has a collection of over 3,500 animals representing 750 species. The zoo’s annual attendance exceeds 1,000,000. It also runs non-animal attractions, such as the 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge San Antonio Zoo Eagle train ride, which first opened in 1956 and utilizes three Chance Rides C.P. Huntington locomotives.
The Richard Friedrich Aquarium was opened in 1948.
What is now known as the San Antonio Zoo began in 1914 when Colonel George Washington Brackenridge, one of the city’s leading citizens, placed bison, deer, monkeys, African lions, and bears on land he had deeded to the city. The land became Brackenridge Park and Golf Course.
The San Antonio Zoo opened two of the first cageless exhibits in the United States in November 1929 that offered visitors views of the animals not available in caged exhibits. The Richard Friedrich Aquarium was dedicated in 1948, and the Hixon Bird House, funded through the efforts of Colonel Frederick C. Hixon, opened in 1966. The zoo’s bird collection is now one of the world’s largest.
The San Antonio Zoo housed the first herd of addra gazelle in captivity in 1969 and continues to be active in the breeding program for this critically endangered species. Due to the former hoofstock quarantine point in San Antonio, the San Antonio Zoo has historically had a wide variety of hoofstock species.
The zoo is involved in breeding a number of endangered species including black rhino, leopard, golden lion tamarin, dama gazelle, Attwater’s prairie chicken, black mangabey, African lion, black-footed ferret, Komodo dragon, Andean condor, and Caribbean flamingos.
The zoo recently opened Phase II of the Africa Live project. Phase I brought a new exhibit for hippos with underwater viewing area and one for new Nile crocodiles as well as many other smaller animals. Phase II contains Angolan colobus monkeys, okapi, African hunting dogs, rock hyrax, and various species of birds contained in the second largest aviary in the world. On June 18, 2013, a two-headed turtle, along with three one-headed turtles hatched. The two-headed turtle was later named Thelma and Louise after the 1991 film. Thelma and Louise later died on July 29, 2014, from unknown causes.