Charles Paddock Zoo, Atascadero

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San Luis Obispo, CA
Charles Paddock Zoo, Atascadero
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Charles Paddock Zoo is located in the big, shady Atascadero Lake Park. Unfortunately, it's a sad and sorry place. For the price of your ticket you will walk around the zoo in less than ten minutes. Tiny enclosures will sadden you. There is no open space for picnics except for one nice stretch of pine trees and benches. Other than that it's just one small square enclosure after another. You walk past one miserable-looking wallaby only to find more miserable wallabies sitting in a square of dirt in the next enclosure. This zoo should be closed down.
The absolute worst part, that will stay with you and haunt you after you leave, is the Bengal Tiger exhibit. There you will see a depressed tiger (beautiful, muscular creature with nowhere to run) in a tiny tiny enclosure with dirty foamy water and nothing to look at except walls on three sides and goats he can't catch on the other side. His eyes are the saddest thing. For the sake of our entertainment, he spends his life this way. His days of experiencing the pure thrill as he runs at top speed are over. After seeing him lying there with all life and hope gone from his eyes, I am disgusted.

Continue to directions...

Lion sculpture.


The grounds of Charles Paddock Zoo.

Tiger enclosure.

Not the happiest tiger I ever saw.

Meerkat on a log.


Parrot with colorful tree behind.


The smallest square of trees, marked by the red tab (click "satellite"), is the entire area of the zoo. The rest is Atascadero Lake Park.
Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children aged 3 to 11, and $6 for seniors aged 65+.
Open daily 10-5 (Apr-Oct) and 10-4 (Nov-Mar). Closed Thanksgiving (fourth Thurs in Nov) and Dec 25.
The zoo is in Atascadero Lake Park at 9305 Pismo Ave, Atascadero CA 93422, call (805) 461-5080. It is along Highway 41, west of Highway 101. There is a large parking lot.
Exit Highway 101 southbound at Santa Rosa Rd and head west on Portola Rd for a mile. Turn left on Morro Rd and then take the second left on Pismo Ave. Exit Highway 101 northbound at Santa Rosa Rd. Turn left on Front St. Turn left on Santa Rosa Rd and drive for a mile. Turn right on Marchant Way.The park and zoo will be on your right.


Click on map for interactive view


Add your comments
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CPZoo Fan

Wed, 27 Apr 2011

The Charles Paddock Zoo is a zoological institution accredited by the AZA (American Zoological Association). In order to became an accredited institution the zoo has to pass several inspections and meet an imense number of criteria such as size of enclosures, enrichment programs, nutrition, veterinary care and others. Every single animal at the Charles Paddock Zoo receives excellent care.
And for those who write and agree with things such: "wallaby wishing he had never left Australia", guess what??? These animals were NEVER in Australia. Do you know why? Because they've all been bred in captivity! So if you think they would be better off in the wild, I'm sorry to tell you that these animals probably wouldn't survive in the wild. These animals are not bred to be released, they are bred to be part of zoological institutions.
Unfortunately some people are not capable of appreciating the hard work and effort that is put in into the daily care of these animals nor have enough knowledge about zoos and their mission statements to understand what zoos stand for.

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Wed, 05 May 2010

Zoo Fan wrote: "Animals have no such human emotions"

Well they might not have HUMAN emotions but I am 100% sure my dog feels emotions. When he is happy he is wagging his tail when he is frightened his tail goes between his legs,... if that isn't emotion then I don't know what is. Why would a tiger not have similar emotions.

I've seen that Tiger enclosure and it's just too small for such an magnificent and large animal.

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Reply from Supervisor Amy Gilman

Tue, 04 May 2010

"...expanding the tiger enclosure has concerned many people and is high on the Zoo's priority list...With optimal fund raising, it is possible that construction for the tiger enclosure could begin in about three years."

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Tue, 04 May 2010

Why buy a tiger if you don't have room for it?

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Zoo Fan

Tue, 04 May 2010

The review of the Zoo is utterly lacking, and more about the editor than the Zoo or the animals. Projecting human emotions onto animals is a common mistake people make. The tiger is not "depressed" with the "saddest eyes" and "hope gone"...etc. That is all manufactured by the editor, and a disservice to the Zoo. Animals have no such human emotions. The fact is that the tiger and other Zoo animals are far better cared for than most people's pets...and these are not pets, but wild animals. The Zoo even has enrichment programs to keep the animals active and healthy. If the editor really wants support better enclosures for the tiger, she should make a significant donation to our Zoo Society group to build the new exhibit, which is already planned.
I think the Zoo is a marvelous place, and I support it with my Zoo membership, etc..

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Tue, 04 May 2010

New research in cognitive science tells a lot about the "human" emotions of animals.
I am not an animal activist- I don't even own a pet- I'm just a traveler and parent shocked by what I saw.

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Sat, 13 Feb 2016

Good place to bring small children.

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Animal Lover

Mon, 19 Jul 2010

Animals exhibit instinctive behaviors and learned behaiviors based upon the species and their environment. The captions in the pictures on this site are clearly based upon the editor's feelings, not the animals. A wallaby "wishing" and an unhappy tiger? Really? The C.P. Zoo practices animal enrichment based upon the type of species to enhance their physical, social and psyhological well-being. This includes habitat enrichment, sensory enrichemnt, food enrichment (such as hiding the food so the animal forages for it),etc. Zoos such as this have enrichment plans/schedules for each animal. Contrary to the unfortunate characterizations here, the animals are well cared for and perfectly fine.
If you really want to help the animals, donate to the Zoo Society there. They are constantly working to improve the Zoo.

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Fri, 01 Apr 2016

It's been 6 years since this article was posted, and as far as I know the tiger encloser hasn't changed (correct me if I'm wrong) My husband and I visited Charles Paddock zoo several months ago. When we were there the tiger seemed stressed, was pacing back and forth and making these grunting, moaning noises. That to me seems like a depressed and stressed tiger. This poor tiger needs a bigger enclosure asap. If the zoo can't afford to build a bigger enclosure then why don't they send him to another zoo/sanctuary that can house him with the proper space? Afterall, isn't it about the overall wellbeing of the animal?

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Fri, 01 Apr 2016

Aimee, thank you for your post. It is sad to hear that nothing has been done since I last visited this zoo six years ago. Very sad. I'm glad there are other people that have the sensitivity to see that this tiger is not happy. I appreciate your post.

Last Updated: Wed, 06 Sep 2023 19:56:36 GMT

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