Animal Portraits - San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is a beautiful, 100 acre park known for its lush gardens, naturalistic habitats and transcendent animal encounters. It’s an extravagant home to more than 3700 rare and endangered animals representing about 660 different species.

During my visit to the seaside sanctuary, I had the chance to observe, in person, animals that I would otherwise never have the privilege to see. It was a bittersweet experience because it hurt my heart to watch as some of the animals suffered from being held in captivity.

Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve had a passion for studying wildlife and my parents have passed down to me an acute sensitivity to animal’s feelings. I have a knack for perceiving their joy, curiosity, anger, fear and pain.

With camera in tow, I wanted to create an intimate picture of the animals I saw there so I focused on portraiture. Hopefully, the following collection of photos captures the beauty of these innocent creatures and expresses the sympathy I have for them.

Zoo critics claim that wild animals in zoos suffer physically and mentally because their complex social and behavioral needs cannot be met in unnatural manmade environments. They say many animals show signs of anxiety caused by the stresses of being held captive.

Lack of space is a major issue with animal rights activists as they believe most of the larger animals aren’t allowed the necessary room to roam. Some of them are forced into small cages where their every move is on display in front of the bustling crowds.

Zoo proponents argue that their main priorities are animal welfare, conservation and education. They believe that zoos give people from all walks of life the unique opportunity to experience and learn about the animal kingdom.

Today in this troubled world, wild animals must negotiate a labyrinth of challenges such as habitat loss, destructive weather, poaching and war. Proponents hope a visit to the zoo will inspire people to participate in protecting animals and conserving their environments.

I do think zoos offer a sort of protection as they play a critical role in the survival of threatened and endangered species. I just have a feeling that if the animals could talk, they would probably say - “We’d rather be free.”

An extravagant home

3700 rare animals

A bittersweet experience

Hurts my heart

Sensitivity to animals feelings

An intimate picture

Focused on portraiture

Innocent creatures

Animals need room to roam

Wild animals must negotiate a labyrinth

Proponents hope a visit will inspire

Zoos play a critical role


  1. I've only been to the San Diego Zoo twice. I wish I lived close enough to go more often. I'm amazed you got such great photos of the big cats. Every time I get to a zoo they are hiding somewhere sleeping, since they tend to be more active at night. these re really great photos.

    1. It's a beautiful place that offers people a chance to see some extremely rare animals. It was a nice day and the big cats were out and about in the morning. If we do make it out that way again, I'd like to go see the Wild Animal Park.

  2. Admiring the time and effort you put into your post and detailed information you offer!. It is cruel to lock them up in a cage, instead of letting them to live their way they want in the wildlife. I was going through this post while doing research about why animals should not be kept in zoos essay and the content of this essay changed the way I saw these pictures.

    1. Thanks, it is a beautiful park and I was lucky to be able to see some amazing creatures.


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