San Diego Zoo Wildlife Explorers Basecamp

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Explorers Basecamp

Welcome to more than three acres of adventure, all with one amazing goal: to encourage Wildlife Explorers to learn about nature, actively play, encounter new species, and develop empathy for wildlife.


What’s a Wildlife Explorer?

Young people are anything but passive observers of life. They interact, climb, and touch. They learn by doing. So, we reimagined the former Children’s Zoo from their perspective. Because when youths—and Wildlife Explorers of every age—discover their connection to the natural world, they understand the importance of creating a world where all live thrives.


Introducing… Basecamp

Pass under a trellis covered by giant leafcutter ant sculptures and discover the wildness of Basecamp for the first time. This new world is divided into four innovative outdoor play areas, each designed around unique habitats: Desert Dunes, Wild Woods, Marsh Meadows, and Rainforest.


  • Desert Dunes
    Climb rocks, explore caves, and play in a desert wash ecosystem. Interact with a giant rotating globe fountain and discover larger-than-life desert creature sculptures. And come nose-to-nose with wildlife like fennec foxes, burrowing owls, and prairie dogs.
  • Wild Woods
    Step into a waterfall grotto and get drenched as water pours over eroded bluffs. Look out for splashing jets that unexpectedly fill a stream. Then, climb the ancient oak tree by either the rope bridge, spiral staircase, or a fallen branch—and discover that nearby primates and coatis play in the same way that Wildlife Explorers do.
  • Marsh Meadows
    Trek into the marsh and watch the waterline rise as you head deeper. Watch for dwarf crocs, turtles, and fish gliding through the clear water. And as the marsh grows deeper, it teems with more wildlife.
  • Rainforest
    Explore a multilevel outdoor environment with towering trees and tangled vines. This mixed habitat is home not just to rainforest creatures, but also our wildlife ambassadors who roam Basecamp with wildlife care specialists for up-close encounters with Wildlife Explorers throughout the day.


When your adventure outside is complete, use our body dryers and then step inside for unique indoor experiences.


  • Cool Critters
    Discover a watery world of aquatic habitats under a moving river of light that ripples mysteriously in the underwater-themed environment. Spot the Fijian iguana, giant salamander, and axolotl, and explore our learning lab, where San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance scientists, wildlife care specialists, and educators engage Wildlife Explorers in hands-on learning experiences with some of our favorite scaly creatures.
  • Spineless Marvels
    You don’t need a spine to enter our two-story greenhouse with fluttering butterflies and moths. Then, peer into dark caves and inspect an entire village of busy leafcutter ants in their blacklight-illuminated “underground” colony.Climb inside a tunnel beside naked mole-rats, mimicking their behavior and learning about these unique burrowing rodents.And you’ll be buzzing about the experience of imagining life as a bee when you enter a giant honeycomb, complete with the sights and smells of a bee’s world, followed by a live demonstration with our apiarist.


A world of explorative play, adventure, and empathy for wildlife awaits you at Wildlife Explorers Basecamp. Feel what it is like to be wild. Only at the San Diego Zoo.


Get your tickets here!