Monday, July 18, 2011

San Diego Zoo: Go Before Your Kids Get Any Older!

We arrived at the San Diego Zoo at around 9:30 am. It was only a five-minute drive from our hotel in the Gaslamp quarter (if you're looking for a place to stay, see my review of Hotel Solamar: and the concierge even gave us a coupon for $5 off each admission ticket. The admissions price is expensive ($40 for adults; $30 for children, ages 3 to 11) but you're really paying to support the wonderful conditions at the zoo. Compared to the San Francisco Zoo, where the polar bear paces with boredom, the San Diego Zoo is paradise. The animals seem active, the habitats look beautiful, and the grounds are extremely well-kempt. Our goal was to see the pandas but we spent a good half hour marveling over the koalas.

So cute!

Polar bear--not pacing!

Caribou (a.k.a. reindeer!)

When we got to the panda exhibit, we discovered that the twenty-three-month-old Yun Zi had just woken up and was searching for food. We were only a few yards away from him. It felt like we could reach out and touch him. After visiting the panda at the Atlanta zoo, we had expected a glass partition. We thought we would have to stand in line and brave a hoard of visitors, but we had a very peaceful experience. (Allen's coworker said he stood in a long line to see the pandas, so visit them in the morning.) While we were observing Yun Zi, the educator guide told us interesting facts about pandas. For example, once a baby panda reaches maturity, he must be separated from his mother, as they will fight each other for food. Also, they are carnivores. They don't hunt but if a small animal fell in their lap, they would eat it. What are the chances of that happening?!

Yun Zi searching for food

Yun Zi having breakfast

Yun Zi's dad still snoozing

The one-day pass includes rides on the sky tram and the buses. There is a bus that takes you on a guided tour of the exhibits as well as buses that give you rides from one bus stop to another so you can cover more territory instead of wasting time walking up and down the hills.

Baby giraffe spotted from tour bus

Before we left, Phoebe stopped by the petting zoo. As with the pandas, we lucked out again. A zoo keeper plopped down a pile of hay just as we walked in.

Phoebe feeding goat
Although the zoo closes at 9 pm, we were pretty satisfied with our experience by 2:30. We had only seen about a third of the zoo but even Phoebe had had enough. You should go!

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