San Antonio's first zoo consisted of a collection of animals assembled in San Pedro Park in the 1800s. In 1914, Colonel George W. Brackenridge, one of the city's leading citizens and founder of the San Antonio Express-News, placed buffalo, elk, deer, monkeys, a pair of lions, and four bears on land he had deeded over to the city in what is now known as Brackenridge Park. This collection became the San Antonio Zoo.
In November 1929, two of the first cageless exhibits in America--the Barless Bear Terraces and the Primate Paradise--opened, offering visitors unprecedented views of animals. When the Richard Friedrich Aquarium was dedicated in 1948, it was described in the local press as "the world's greatest." The Hixon Bird House, funded through the efforts of Colonel Frederick C. Hixon, opened in 1966, featuring a simulated tropical rain forest and free-flying birds. The zoo's bird collection is now one of the world's largest.
The zoo is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is home to a wide variety of animals representing 750 species on 56 acres, of which 34 acres are public pathways. More than 1,000,000 guests visit the San Antonio Zoo annually - 13,155 of those being children participating in education programs and 80,000 school children coming on field trips.