San Diego Zoo was founded in 1916 in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. After numerous wild animals were abandoned at the 1915 Panama California Exposition, the Zoological Society of San Diego took charge of the animals. In 1921, a permanent part of Balboa Park was set aside for the zoo. The City of San Diego and the Zoological Society made an agreement that the city would own the land, but the zoo would be operated by the Zoological Society.
Today, the San Diego Zoo has almost 4,000 animals and 650 species. The park sits on 100 acres and operates as a non-profit organization. The Zoological Association is one of the largest in the world, with nearly 500,000 members. The zoo is very active in breeding endangered animals, including the panda.
The zoo has had more than a few escape artists, however, including a koala named Mundu who hopped to a neighboring tree outside the park, two striped hyenas who escaped inside the park, and an orangutan named Hairy Houdini by the public, who escaped several times during his lifetime.