Rex’s Roar at The San Diego Zoo

Rex’s Roar is a 5,000-square foot site renovation, built by Swinerton, at the front entrance of the San Diego Zoo. The focal point of the project is the 10-ton, 27-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Rex the lion landing on one paw. This fascinating cantilevered structure is made possible by the large 50-ton footing on which Rex rests his paw, and by his stainless steel skeletal frame which supports the 200 bronze pieces that make up his body.

Rex is surrounded by multiple bronze animals such as flamingos, turtles, meerkats, and even an alligator. These animals, embedded in the architectural concrete with colorful glass aggregate, help illustrate Dr. Harry Wegeforth’s (the zoo’s founder) dream of uniting people with wildlife.

The statue of the ferocious feline helps conclude the zoo’s centennial celebration and it alludes to the story of how the zoo was started in San Diego. As the story goes, back in 1915 a male lion named Rex arrived in San Diego as part of the Panama-California International Exposition. After the exposition ended, Rex and several other animals were living in cages along what is now Park Boulevard. One day, Dr. Harry Wegeforth and his brother Paul were driving past Balboa Park when they heard a powerful roar. It was then that Dr. Wegeforth was struck with the idea of creating a zoo in San Diego.

Rex now stands proudly at the main entrance of one of the most prestigious zoos in the world and has become the symbol of the zoo’s efforts in wildlife education and conservation.

Total 402 Votes

Tell us how can we improve this post?


Verify Human or Spambot ?

  • Orchid Nominee

  • Project Address:

    2920 Zoo Dr., San Diego CA 92101

    Project Owner/Developer:

    San Diego Zoo Global

    Owner Contact Name/Email:

    Kambiz Mehrafshani /


Contact Us

Contact Us



P.O. Box 122228
San Diego, CA 92112-2228
Federal Tax ID: 95-3513927

Sign Up

Stay on top of your Architectural news

Orchids & Onions is an educational and fundraising program of the San Diego Architectural Foundation, a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization dedicated to education and the promotion of outstanding architecture, planning and urban design throughout the San Diego region.

Get in the Mix