Animals in the City ~ San Francisco
Children Love Animals
If you have children and you live in San Francisco or are visiting, it's always fun to play "spot the animal." There are plenty of animal species in this vibrant city to find if you only begin to look. What follows are some of the animals I have found while walking throughout beautiful San Francisco.
Pigeons and Doves
Having been around since at least Roman days, pooping on statues, pigeons may just be the most sighted city animal, especially when you're downtown. They're considered enough of a menace that buildings now have pigeon ledges, which have wires sprouting up to discourage pigeons from roosting there. Still, what would a city be without pigeons and doves cooing in the background?
While doves are a less common sight in the city, I have come across them occasionally and find them to be lovely creatures. They are said to have a more aggressive personality than pigeons, despite their genteel appearance.
The Parrots of Telegraph Hill
San Francisco is home to a flock of green parrots. They are famous and even have a documentary made about them called, "The Parrots of Telegraph Hill."
The parrots are wild and believed to originate from an escaped domestic pair of Red-masked parrots. They can be seen occasionally flying around Telegraph Hill and the large trees of the Embarcadero. I have seen the flock twice ~ once flying between two trees near Fisherman's Wharf, and once close to the Embarcadero malls and the Ferry Building, bouncing and floating around the trees and the grass area. They are quite an impressive sight and I encourage you to look for them if you are visiting San Francisco.
The San Francisco Zoo
All kinds of animals can be seen with a visit to the San Francisco zoo. This world famous zoo is at the far end of the Sunset, close to Ocean Beach. Because of its proximity to the ocean I recommend dressing warmly when you visit. This is a popular destination for those visiting the city and for San Franciscans, especially those with children. Zoos are great for educating children about animals and their endangerment, and also help to keep many wildlife populations from extinction.
Turtles and More...
Turtles can be seen at Stowe Lake in Golden Gate Park. They often line up on a log of wood that jets out of the lake near the boat dock. If you rent a boat, or just hike the little island, you're sure to see more wildlife including ducks, geese, squirrels, herons, and possibly a mouse or two.
Wild deer have been spotted in Golden Gate Park, although finding them is not easy and a rare sighting should be appreciated if you should luck out. Please keep quiet and keep your distance. We share the park with them and they deserve respect and privacy.
San Francisco is home to a herd of bison, right in the depths of Golden Gate Park! The best way to see them is to take a bike ride out to them so you can easily stop and take pictures as Golden Gate Park is very popular and parking can be a problem. On Sundays many roads in the Park are closed to cars so that the bikers and joggers can get their groove on. The bison can be found in an enclosure in the farther Avenues, around the 30s or so, within Golden Gate Park. Look for maps along park roads to help you locate them.
Because of residential encroachment on wild land, skunks can make the occasional appearance in the streets of San Francisco, particularly in the more quiet residential neighborhoods like the rich Pacific Heights neighborhood. I have seen them at night while out on a run in the Outer Richmond near the coast. Once in a while the skunk smell permeates the neighborhood. It is best to keep your distance with these cute, quiet creatures.
Raccoons can be seen at night, particularly near the homes by the Presidio and in the Inner Richmond, but there are many neighborhoods in San Francisco that they call home. Occasionally they scamper from home to home or apartment complex to apartment complex, keeping in the dark alley ways and often going unnoticed (that is, until the next morning when the owner finds their garbage cans disturbed!) Because they are nocturnal, you will more often see them at night or in the late evening, so keep an eye out.