The carousel at the San Francisco Zoo is a rare menagerie carousel and is one of only fourteen in the world. It is also one of only seven carousels, built by the Dentzel family, existing in the United States. Why is this special? Because modern day carousel animals are made from cast metal and fiberglass but the old ones were hand carved from wood. Dentzel carousels in particular were known for their intricate lifelike animals, enhanced with whimsical trappings.
I'm glad to say the SF Zoo has taken good care of this carousel, renovating it several times over the years. It consists of 50 animals and two chariots. The outer animals are standers, meaning they have three or four feet on the ground and do not go up or down. They are however, the most beautifully decorated because they are the ones easily seen by spectators.
The two inner rows are made up of jumpers, moving animals with all four feet off the ground.
If you take the time to look, you will notice some fantastical additions to the saddle trappings.
The outer and inner panels that cover the machinery are worth noticing as well.
There is usually a “lead horse” (most decorated) on the outside row of the carousel. I don't know if this is the lead horse or not, but it was certainly my favorite!
The only drawback to this carousel is that it relies on recorded music; it does not have an organ. But it's variety of animals more than makes up for it and it only costs $3 a ride. Also, adults may ride free if they are standing next to their child.
Go to the SF Zoo's website for more information on location, admission and hours. And if you'd like to know more about the zoo, you can check out my other blogs:
Regarding The San Francisco Zoo
A New And Fantastic Playground At The San Francisco Zoo
Please Touch! Animal Sculptures At The San Francisco Zoo
Want to know more about carousels in the SF Bay Area? Check out the first blog in this series.