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Where To See Elephants In California – Complete Guide

If you’re looking for somewhere to see elephants in California then you’re in the right place.

There’s plenty of places to see elephants in person all over California, from Los Angeles to San Diego including zoos, safari parks and elephant sanctuaries. 

This post will tell you all of the best places to see elephants in California and includes all the information you’ll need for a fun day out. 

Best Places To See Elephants In California

1. San Diego Zoo

One of the best places to see elephants in California is at San Diego Zoo.

San Diego Zoo currently has 5 elephants that live in their Elephant Odyssey area which is 7.5 acres. They have 2 Asian elephants and 3 African elephants in their herd.

The zoo has been home to elephants since 1923 when their first 2 elephants, Empress and Queenie, arrived on a train from San Francisco.

The zoo also features an Elephant Care Center where you can often see staff washing the elephants or training them. 

San Diego Zoo is a fun day out and they have lots of different animals to see in addition to the elephants.

Address: 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

You can see the elephants at San Diego Zoo in the video below:

2. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Another great place to see elephants in California is at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park which is 31 miles north of San Diego Zoo.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park currently has 8 African elephants and their numbers are growing. The 2 newest baby elephants were born in 2018.

The herd of elephants in San Diego Zoo Safari Park are African elephants and the herd has 2 large open-range areas to roam around in. 

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is an excellent place to see elephants as you can view the elephants from an aerial walkway.

You’ll likely see elephants taking a dip, playing in the mud or just roaming around. 

The safari park also has lots of other animals to see including giraffes, tigers, cheetahs and much more.

They offer the closest thing to a real African safari in the US.

Address: 15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027

Did you know you can also see sloths in California?

Check out the video below of the elephant herd happily playing in the mud at San Diego Zoo Safari Park:

3. PAWS Ark 2000 Sanctuary

The PAWS Ark 2000 Sanctuary is an elephant sanctuary that you can visit in California.

This elephant sanctuary currently has 7 elephants who have 2,300 acres of land to roam. 4 of them are African elephants and the other 3 are Asian elephants.

PAWS rescues elephants who have previously been held captive and exploited.

Most of their elephants either came from zoos who were not providing adequate care or from circuses. 

You can join one of the PAWS ‘Seeing The Elephants’ tours where you can see the rescued elephants in person, learn about them and also learn about how they are cared for by the sanctuary. 

Address: 1065 Pool Station Rd, San Andreas, CA 95249 

Check out the video below which shows one of the elephants, named Toka, roaming around at the Ark 2000 Sanctuary:

4. Oakland Zoo

Oakland Zoo is another great place to see elephants in California. 

Oakland Zoo currently has 3 African elephants in an enclosure that is 6.5 acres and features a swimming pool, trees, grassy hills and a mud wallow.

They are well looked after here by the animal care staff.  

Oakland Zoo is just a short drive from San Francisco. When you arrive, you’ll likely be able to see the elephants grazing, foraging for food or relaxing in the swimming pool or mud wallow.

The zoo also partners with charities in Africa to help protect animals in the wild from poachers.

Address: 9777 Golf Links Rd, Oakland, CA 94605

Check out the video below where the elephants are being sprayed with water on a particularly hot day at Oakland Zoo:

5. Los Angeles Zoo

Los Angeles Zoo is a great place to see elephants in California.

Los Angeles Zoo currently has 4 Asian elephants in their Elephants of Asia exhibit.

The elephants here have a 6.5 acre enclosure filled with bathing pools, sandy hills, a waterfall and a mud wallow. 

The zoo has 4 different viewing areas and has plenty of opportunities for you to learn about the elephants, conservation efforts and more.

Address: 5333 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027

You can meet the elephants of Los Angeles Zoo in the video below:

6. Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Another place where you can see elephants in California is at Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

In their African Adventure exhibit, Fresno Chaffee Zoo has re-created the African plains and savannahs for their elephants. 

Fresno Chaffee Zoo currently has a family herd of African elephants at their zoo.

If you’re looking for an elephant encounter in California, then you can take part in the Trunk Time tour where you’ll watch an elephant training session and help feed them.

Address: 894 W Belmont Ave, Fresno, CA 93728

Check out some of the elephants at Fresno Chaffee Zoo in the video below:

7. Monterey Zoo

Monterey Zoo is another place where you can often see elephants in California. 

All of the elephants at Monterey Zoo have come from circus, carnival or entertainment backgrounds.

Monterey Zoo currently only has 1 African elephant named Butch. They used to have more but the other elephants passed away from old age.

Before visiting, please check the Monterey Zoo website as at the time of writing, the zoo has temporarily relocated Butch to another zoo so he can live with other elephants.

They plan to bring him back to the zoo soon with other elephants to keep him company.

Address: 400 River Rd, Salinas, CA 93908

If you like elephants, you may also be interested to know where you can see gorillas in the USA.

Thanks for reading this post on where to see elephants in California. 

Wherever you are in California, there’s plenty of options here to see elephants in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and more. 

These include zoos, safari parks and elephant sanctuaries.

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