Every Single Animal at the San Diego Zoo, Ranked for the 100th Anniversary
Animals. Some are amazing/majestic/adorable. Some are disgusting/terrifying/evil. This year, the San Diego Zoo is celebrating its 100th year of being home to both kinds, so we decided we'd do you the favor of ranking the animals from worst to best. We considered everything from survivability, likeability, skills that border on superpowers (e.g. the ability to generate a new tail after the other one's been severed), and more.
(Also, though the Safari Park's animals have their own good and bad qualities, it didn't open until 1972, and since we're celebrating the centennial, those animals won't make an appearance on this list.)
Anyway, we'll get to it. This is the internet, and we expect debate, so feel free to make your case for your favorite animal in the comments.
131. Dung beetle
Dung beetles enjoy spending time outdoors (looking for poop), trying out new restaurants (where they serve poop), thinking about their life's purpose (to eat poop and lay eggs in poop), and crocheting.
130. Tarantula and 129. Spider
Spiders are pure evil. From the way they kill their prey (by trapping it, vomiting digestive fluid on it, and watching it die), to the fact that they have eight legs and more than two eyes, every spider everywhere should be killed slowly and deliberately, one shoe thrown across the room at a time. Challengers?
They're great survivors, unfortunately.
It's like if a snake and an earthworm had a baby, and that baby came out blind with tentacles.
126. Naked mole rat
Its dating profile would be something like: "I like to eat poop. I'm blind. And I can't go out with you because there's a queen in my colony that's got her eye on me (she's got her eye on a bunch of other dudes, too, it's kind of a bummer). But I will always love you."
125. Tasmanian devil
Worst dinner party guests ever. They had an awful childhood (there were 50 of them, only four survived, yada yada), they scream when they eat and rarely close their mouths, they smell, eat off of other people's plates… they're never being invited over again.
Biting San Diego house cats and hikers since... always.
These reptiles also live in San Diego, sadly.
122. Giant African millipede
120. and 119. Both kinds of stick bugs
... boring and disgusting.
Pretty? Yes. Worth wandering around the zoo looking for? Absolutely not.
See No. 114.
111. Lizards and 110. Salamanders
109. Toads and 108. Frogs
Frogs are better, in case you were wondering (which you probably weren't).
They have excellent sight, which helps them detect predators at great distances. What's more amazing is that anything would actually want to eat this disgusting creature.
If you're in the market for an intricate nest of sticks that took forever to build, the bowerbird's nests… AREN'T FOR SALE. What's wrong with you?!
105. Bali myna
It's Bali's official bird, annnnd that's pretty much all it has going for it.
104-100. Kingfisher/Laughing kookaburra/Cockatoo/Ibis/Pelican
99-95. Parrot/Secretary bird/Gouldian finch/Sociable weaver/Lorikeet
...we don't care about.
You get it.
He's the bird that's furthest away from being a bird. Therefore, we like him the best.
88. Gila monster
Poor things. They're from Arizona.
87. Goat and 86. Sheep
"Let's go find the goats and sheep!!!!!" said no zoo-goer ever.
85. Wild cattle/Buffalo
See logic from Nos. 86-87.
84. Prairie dog
You know the classic tune: "Home, home on the range. Where the deer and the antelope play"? It was about these "American antelope." You're welcome.
82. Mountain lion
Professional camping-trip ruiners.
So they're like deer, but slightly different. And… they're brown. And… *falls asleep*.
Way too into themselves.
79. California condor and 78. Andean condor
These scavengers poop on their own legs to cool themselves down and NO YOU SHOULD NOT TRY IT.
77. Komodo dragon
They're the world's largest lizard… They're cannibals… They're dragons that don't breathe fire… Not into it.
75. Coconut crab
Massive, which makes them terrifying. But they also climb trees and pick and eat coconuts, which is kind of bad-ass.
The adult males have the most amazing colored feathers, which they fashion into expandable fans, twisted wires, air conditioners, refrigerators, hammers, and… (JK, only the first two things).
Final grade: B+. Marks against it for being non-poisonous, and pooping on us at that birthday party that one time.
She's not a player. She just crushes (still-living animals) a lot.
During mating season, sometimes two to 12 male anacondas will try to mate with one female anaconda at the same time, resulting in a "breeding ball," and it's the stuff of nightmares.
They can stand on one leg for eternity, and we can only do it for like three minutes, so props.
They're not spitting on you. Oh, no, no, no. They're throwing up on you…
These South American llamas don't need to drink any water, which is a pretty handy superpower.
These relatives of the giraffe do need to drink water, and they have to splay their legs to reach the ground to get it, which seems wrong, evolutionarily speaking.
65. Singing dog
A national treasure of China, this wildebeest/sheep mix seems oh-so-wise, like if it opened its mouth, it would be to tell you the secrets of the universe. Or the exact day and manner in which you will die... which would not be as cool, obviously.
63. Galápagos tortoise and 62. African spurred tortoise
You would have a hard time breaking out of your shell, too, if it were attached to your spine.
61. Rock hyrax
60. Giant anteater
Thank you for all that you do.
It's nose and upper lip are combined. Not exactly model material.
56. Honey badger
Honey badger don't care. Honey badger don't even care that's he's had over 78 million views of his breakout video on YouTube. Honey badger's too good for that sh*t.
55. Harpy eagle
Looks like it's going to peck your eyes out at any moment.
54. Crowned eagle
See No. 55.
53. Steller's sea eagle
She's the heaviest known eagle, which is probbabbbbbly because she really overdid it during that last salmon run...
52. King cobra
Rebellious… Dangerous… Snake ladies, stay away.
People have been known to breed them with domestic cats to make savanna cats to keep as pets. We have feelings about this.
Has multiple names but prefers to be called "fossa," because its scientific name means "hidden anus."
47. Tree pangolin
It's pointy, nocturnal, and wants to be left alone. Like a scaly Edward Scissorhands.
46. Fennec fox
Ears on ears on ears...
Meerkat life is basically an underground version of The Godfather. But instead of shooting each other with machine guns, these warring families run at each other to the death, which seems worse somehow...
The female's buttocks swell when she's ready to breed. So there's that.
Pluses: he's rocking the permanent-tuxedo thing. Minuses: he doesn't have any thumbs, and we know we'd be lost without ours, so…
42. Spider monkey
Again with the lack of thumbs…
Three words: epic cat beard.
Pluses: it has one of the coolest means of evasion around (rolling away from its predators). Minuses: it looks like a mole shoved into a waffle cone.
A sloth can eat, sleep, mate, and give birth upside down. This dude isn't lazy. He's crazy-talented.
… aka "rainbow butt."
Other members of the opposable thumb club.
34. Fishing cat
It taps its paw on the water to simulate insect movement to attract fish, which shows A) how clever it is, and B) how stupid fish are.
33. African penguins
Their coats are oh-so-fashionable, a classic black-and-white that will never go out of style. But their timeless fashion sense is offset by a major fault: these South African birds bray like a donkey, and it's awful.
32. Maned wolf
Their pee smells so much like weed that the Rotterdam Zoo once called in police to try and sniff out a pot smoker. So next time you get caught smoking weed in a public place, just blame it on the maned wolf.
31. Gray wolf
What it lacks in color, it makes up for in everything else.
30. Amur leopard
They're not from the Sahara, they're from the Russian far east, and they'd appreciate it if you'd check your stereotypes.
At the Zoo, these guys are roommates with otters, and when they play together, it's the best exhibit. Hands down.
What's the difference between a caribou and a reindeer? One was fortunate enough to be included in Christmas folklore. Also, how about those antlers?! They're like a bone nest covered in skin that fall off and grow back every year. What is that about?!?!
You'll probably never see one of these lemurs, because they're nocturnal. But that might be a good thing, because in Madagascar, they're considered to be a symbol of death.
Curled up into itself, it looks like a far more adorable sea urchin. And actually, hedgehogs were called "urchins" at one point, inspiring the name of the spiky sea creature. You have been learned.
25. Ring-tailed lemur
And the best tail award goes to…
24. Red-collared lemur
And the best collar award goes to (we don't want him to feel left out)...
Way too cool to be cats.
19. Andean spectacled bear and 18. Sloth bear
Automatically cool because they're bears.
Introspective. While the chimp is at the bars on a Friday night, the orangutan is at home watching reruns of Oprah's SuperSoul Sunday.
16. Brown bear
Capybaras are like the chill, good-looking ambassadors of the rodent world. We want to simultaneously hug the capybara and ask him if he'll be on our trivia team. He is an all-star.
Playas gonna play (by building slides on rivers out of mud, not by two-timing their significant others and such).
A group of hippos can be called a "bloat," a "pod," or a "siege." Why you would call them a "bloat" or a "pod" when you can call them a "siege" is beyond us.
12. Sun bear
The bibs around their necks, legend says, represent the rising sun. Animals with legends > animals without legends.
11. Pygmy marmoset
Too. Much. Cuteness. You should probably watch this video.
Impractical AF. We love them, anyway.
Legend has it that in 1916, when San Diego Zoo founder Dr. Harry Wegeforth was passing by, he "heard the roar of caged lions that were a part of the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition, and decided then and there that San Diego was ready for a zoo and convinced the city to follow his lead" (source). Would there be a zoo without these very famous, very majestic animals? Who knows.
"Terrible Tigers" or "Pink Flamingos." Whose kindergarten soccer team would you rather be on?
Koalas are cute, but they make some seriously poor life choices. They feed their children poop, they're asleep almost all the time (show some more ambition, please?), and when they actually are awake, there's a good chance they're seeking out carnal romance with some hot koala in the next tree over, but they don't use protection. Koalas are riddled with chlamydia! (Up to 90% infection rates in some areas of Australia). So yes, koalas are cute. They're also misguided.
6. Polar bear
They evolved 1-3 million years ago, and now they're in serious danger of going extinct due to global warming. *Sobs* *Proceeds to eat entire tub of ice cream*
A temper tantrum never looked so good.
4. Giant panda
They'd be higher on this list if they weren't so bad at being animals. First, they have no interest in mating. Second, they're tired all the time because their food source (bamboo) is lame and nutritionally deficient. Get it together, Bai Yun. We want you around for awhile.
They're our closest relatives (along with the chimpanzee), and unlike us, they're really, really nice. They’ve evolved to avoid conflict at all costs, and are thought to be better Good Samaritans than humans, doing random acts of kindness, etc. Thanks for making us look bad.
Just lumbering around for millions of years proving how much better (and smarter) they are than us.
1. Red panda
Like a cross between a fox, a raccoon, and a bear, the red panda's cuteness knows no bounds. Even its defense mechanism -- standing on its hind legs to look intimidating -- is adorable. They're terrible at surviving, but hey, nobody's perfect. We like you just the way you are, red panda. Never change.
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