Monday, May 10, 2010
San Diego Animal Park is owned by the San Diego Zoo. It differs from traditional zoos in design. There are very few bars or cages here. Its a lot of wide open spaces where the animals can run semi-free in large natural habitats. For people who love photographing animals but hate the cages that ruin the photos - this is the place to be. My favorite places at the park were the Cheetah display and the Elephant display. The cheetahs had a fairly small habitat, but they posed beautifully and I could have stood there for half a day taking fantastic photos. The elephants on site were rescued from a kill-off from a preserve in Africa. Although they were on protected land previously, they were still fairly wild, so I imagine they appreciate the enormous habitat that was designed for them. They are also breeding like bunnies which (very difficult in captivity) tells me they are very happy here. I couldn't believe the number of baby elephants!
One of the other interesting activites was the African safari tram which takes you through a huge free-range area of herbivores. Giraffes, rhinos, antelope and a dozen other critters I can't remember the names of. I road the tram twice so I could get photos on both sides.
Also took a ride on the giant balloon which gives a very beautiful aerial view of the park. Although...for future reference, I highly suggest you skip the balloon on windy days. On the way down, the wind picked up quite a bit and we all got a little motion sickness.
The San Diego Zoo is a treat to anyone who enjoys zoos, animals, incredible landscaping or has any interest in sciences. They are a world ranked zoo, but they are also a world ranked botanical garden and stress education through out the park. If you have a favorite, they are sure to have a beautiful place for you to sit and watch. The zoo is huge. I struggled to see it all in one trip and was almost successful (but not quite). I highly suggest for anyone going, you need to plan 2 days to do it comfortably. One day is just not enough.
Even in December, there were plenty of babies at the zoo. The panda pictured is fairly young - and they had a week old infant that you could view via monitor. There was a 2 day old giraffe that is just adorable. A pair of New Guinea Singing Dogs had three puppies that I wanted to roll around with (except that whole - they really are wild animals thing). The San Diego Zoo has a very successful breeding program for the California Condor and were - in large part- responsible for the successful population in the wild. Because they are being released, they have no human contact (except for the momma condor hand puppets) but there were plenty of adults that weren't able to survive in the wild for viewing. I arrived just in time to watch them eat lunch.
Have I mentioned how much I love my camera...