Beauty and Beast: Sumatran Tigers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Jocelyn Murray July 26, 2014 No Comments


Wonderstruck… this might best describe how one feels when seeing the Sumatran Tigers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for the very first time. They are both beauty and beast exemplified in one majestic mammal.

Beauty and Beast: this Sumatran tiger exhibits power and poise, grace and grandeur in all its majestic magnificence


About Sumatran Tigers 


These tigers are kings among cats

Sumatran tigers are the smallest subspecies of tigers in the world today, yet one would not think so by seeing them up close. They are powerful and sleek, moving with the natural grace possessed by all cats. Endemic to the island of Sumatra in western Indonesia, these tigers live in tropical lowland and mountain forests where they hunt at night for prey including wild boar, monkeys, birds, deer and fish. Deforestation and illegal trade and poaching have threatened these critically endangered tigers, drastically reducing their numbers.


Our Experience

Tiger Trail at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park recreates the habitat of the Sumatran tigers beautifully

While we have been coming to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for many years now, I was especially looking forward to seeing the new Tiger Trail that opened this past May. The Tiger Trail recreates their natural habitat complete with rocks and streams, a cascading waterfall, a fresh-water pool and all kinds of tropical plants where these gorgeous cats roam amid the dappled shade. It may be hard to spot them at first, but if you look carefully, you will find them blending well with their many stripes among the tall grasses – a feature that helps to camouflage them from prey while hunting.

Nice kitty… one cannot help staring at these amazing animals

The Log Walk begins by setting the mood as visitors maneuver across a narrow-stepped walk through a forest of bamboo and other tropical plants, leading to the Pondok—a hut representing a market stand for wildlife products. Conservation volunteers give informative talks about such markets and the steps taken to prevent illegal trade and poaching. Beyond that is the Sambutan Longhouse with plenty of places to view the tigers up close, whether diving into a deep pool, standing on their hind legs with their extraordinary front paws on the mesh enclosure, or while simply stretching out or rolling on their backs under the shade of a tree. One cannot help feeling mesmerized by these beautiful beasts which grow up to eight feet long, and weigh an average of about 260 pounds.

The Tiger Trail is exceptionally well done. We felt immersed in its environment, and could easily imagine being transported far away to the island of Sumatra. What an amazing experience to get up close to these gorgeous cats!


Don’t Miss These

See the world’s fastest land mammal run at the Cheetah Safari

The African Tram tours the wild plains of Africa at the park

While the park is full of wonderful exhibits, it can take some time (and a lot of walking) to see it all. All of the exhibits recreate the natural habitats of the animals with superb detail. You will feel as though you have traveled across the planet to Africa on a real safari.


Don’t miss the following exhibits and experiences: Cheetah Safari, Lion Camp, Elephant Valley, Gorilla Forest, Asian Savanna, and the Condor Ridge.




The Africa Tram is an open-air tour which is included with admission and features the African Plains with spectacular sightings of animals like giraffes, rhinos, zebras and more. The Balloon Safari (additional fee)  is another fantastic experience that gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of the park. The park also offers safari adventures (including overnight camping), animal encounters, animals shows, volunteer programs and lots of informative keeper talks.


Fun for Kids

Children can enjoy the Conservation Carousel ride with endangered species (additional fees apply), the Village Playground, Petting Kraal, Samburu Jungle Gym, and Cool Zone. These are wonderful places for them to roam freely and get some of the wiggles out of their system.


Shopping & Dining

Everything from toys to t-shirts, jewelry, books and more can be found at the shops scattered around the park. There are plenty of dining options with cold drinks, snacks and meals as well. Shaded areas with benches, restrooms and drinking water fountains give tired visitors a welcoming break.


Planning Your Visit

This white egret makes its home in the park’s peaceful Lagoon Loop

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is open every day of the year including holidays, from 9 a.m. During peak season in summer, it stays open until 7 p.m., then until 6 p.m. (until September 1) and then until 5 p.m. during fall and winter. It is best to come early in the morning when the animals are most active and before it gets too hot. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, as is sunscreen and plenty of water to keep hydrated. The park rents strollers on a first-come, first-serve basis, though it is best to bring your own. Plan on visiting those areas and exhibits that are high on your priority list first, before your tots get tired and cranky. Wear cool, comfortable clothing, shoes and hats. And above all, bring your sense of adventure and be ready to embark on an unforgettable experience!

avatarAbout the Author:

Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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