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San Diego, CA

The San Diego, CA Zoo is a Once in a Lifetime Experience

Posted by 
Carol Lennox
Carol Lennox
 29 days ago
The leopard at the San Diego Zoo.Photo by Alexander St. Louis on Unsplash.

As we are leaving the San Diego Zoo, my sister Elaine joked, “Why did I think it was a good idea to spend the whole day at the zoo when we only have two good knees between us?” We were too vain to use the mechanized conveyances the San Diego Zoo provides. Next time, though, we will take advantage of all the amenities the San Diego Zoo has to offer. Getting to see all of the zoo is worth sacrificing vanity.

I’ve been to San Diego once before, when I took my son for his university graduation six years ago. When I tell people who know San Diego, they always ask, “Did you go to the zoo?” We didn't when we were there the first time. Everyone my sister told she was going to San Diego with me to visit my son and her nephew said, “You have to go to the zoo!”

The San Diego Zoo is quite beautiful, filled with California foliage of palm trees, conifers, cactus, bougainvillea, and hundreds of flowering plants. Most of the habitats are larger than those in other zoos. The gorilla enclosure in particular is spectacular with several rushing waterfalls over huge rocks structures. It's filled with swings, rope climbs and hammacks.

Many of the animals are endangered, and the San Diego zoo provides safety, breeding programs, and studies of behavior. While we were there, a leopard was out of sight for awhile because they make plaster casts and prints of her feet as part of a study. Her prints are used to compare to those in the wild to determine types of leopards and their maturation. When they released her into her habitat, the zoo attendant put frozen leopard food out on a rock just inside the fence for her to lick, keeping her in full sight of the zoo-goers. She also threw meat into a tree and onto a platform so visitors could see her jump and leap to get them.

The elephants and the dwarf hippos have bathing pools, which they utilized both to drink and to cool off. Although the high temperature in May was around 73 degrees farenheith. Perfect zoo weather.

The rock structures in the elephant, gorilla, chimpanzee, and bonobo enclosures are used to hide food and toys so the animals can solve puzzles. The elephants also have hanging balancing squares with food they can access with their trunks, causing these mobiles to swing.

There is quite a bit of walking involved in traversing the shaded trails of the San Diego Zoo, and one area has an incline. Southern California is hilly. It's advisable if you have physical issues that impact walking that you use one of the motorized vehicles to get around the zoo. They also have wheelchairs available, and the San Diego Zoo is accessible to all.

My sister injured her knee six months ago moving a couch. I injured mine three years ago dancing the Bachata. We were, however, able to see the majority of the zoo without using transport.

There are three ways to get to the level where the monkeys are kept. We took the stairs, but there are ramps as well. The stairs led us to the amazing gorilla enclosure and the majestic silver back male gorilla. Sadly, the bonobos were all in their sleeping quarters when we were there at 4:30 p.m. In order to see all the monkeys, I recommend arriving in the morning and going there first. The San Diego Zoo opens at 9:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m.

We chose to ride the air lift across the park to the exit toward closing time. It provides an aerial view of the entire zoo. It's operated by Alaska Airlines, and is free to zoo visitors. You can choose to ride it one way across the zoo, or take a round trip.