Through the support and guidance of these important organizations, San Francisco Zoo & Gardens is able to provide world-class care and wellness to our collection of rescued, rare, and endangered animals.

San Francisco Zoological Society

The San Francisco Zoological Society was established in 1954 as a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the support of the San Francisco Zoo. Today the Zoological Society has more than 25,000 members, making it one of the top 10 zoological societies in the country.

The San Francisco Zoo represents a uniquely successful partnership between the City of San Francisco and the San Francisco Zoological Society. A single management structure integrates all areas of animal care, operations, education, and public services. The joint operation is funded through gate admission fees, retail sales, Membership dues, contributions, and direct support from the City. The Zoo is governed under the Recreation and Park Commission and a 60-member Board of Directors governs the Society. A Joint Zoo Committee is made up of three members of the Recreation and Park Commission and three members of the Board, which oversees policy and provides a public forum. The Zoological Society’s long range plan sets forth four major goals for the Zoo: development of the New Zoo, fostering the Zoo’s role in animal conservation and research, improvement of the Zoo’s capacity for educating the public about wildlife conservation, and enhancement of the Zoo as a recreational facility.

Ongoing fundraising programs and events generate financial support for these goals. Major Zoo fundraising comes from the Membership program and its annual fundraiser, ZooFest.


American Association of Zoo Keepers

The San Francisco Zoo maintains an active chapter of this national association to promote professional development of our keeper staff and raise money for conservation organizations. Our From the Heart party brings together animal keepers from throughout the Bay Area and Northern California to exchange information, have fun, and support conservation. We also participate in the national Bowling for Rhinos fundraising effort, organize enrichment and training at the Zoo, and will soon be offering new programs for our guests as well. The following projects have received underwriting from the San Francisco chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers through our various fundraising activities:

  • Kakapo Recovery Program, New Zealand
  • Socorro Dove Project
  • Snow Leopard Conservancy
  • Ecology Project International
  • Northwest Namibia Desert Dwelling Elephant and Giraffe Project
  • Sun Bear Project in Indonesia
  • Friends of the Urban Forest
  • Orangutan Foundation International

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

The San Francisco Zoo is proud to be an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. The Zoo joins over 200 other professional zoos and aquariums in North America, cooperating in important captive breeding programs, conservation and science work, providing expertise in domestic and worldwide conservation issues, and educating the public about wildlife.

Through the AZA’s accreditation process, institutions undergo detailed review and inspection of its facilities and operations. Institutions that have met the AZA’s accreditation standards become professional accredited members. As an AZA member, the Zoo works cooperatively with other member institutions in a variety of important conservation and conservation education programs, such as Species Survival Plans (SSP) which manage the breeding of selected endangered species in order to maintain a healthy, self-sustaining captive population that is genetically diverse and demographically stable.