San Diego Zoo
After a restless night, having been woken up at 1:30am by some noisy neighbours being rather inconsiderate, we eventually got up and going, and headed up the road to the San Diego Zoo.
This zoo is highly regarded around the world as one of the best, and it certainly is very impressive. It covers a huge area, with a large number of animals – including many we don’t typically see in Australasian zoos.
We arrived around 10:30am and started off with the bus tour, which took about 35 minutes and showed off most of the highlights of the zoo, with commentary explaining some of the history of the zoo and what animals are where. The open top double decker bus allowed a great view of the animals and the surrounding zoo grounds. It had been recommended to us to do the bus tour first, so that we could get our bearings around the zoo and find where things are that we would want to go back and visit – a recommendation I will definitely pass on to others – it really helped to work out how to navigate this huge zoo.
After the tour, we set out on foot and explored, stopping for lunch around 2pm, before continuing on until we departed just around 5pm – quite an exhausting day, and we didn’t even get to see everything (we decided the Australian animals could be skipped !).
The main feeling we had about the zoo at the end of the day was – yes, it is very very impressive (and the grounds are just fantastic – wonderfully landscaped and awesome collection of flora) … but overall the zoo has a significant feeling of what we call “old zoo” … many of the enclosures were just concrete, with very little natural about them. Some of the enclosures were great, but most were pretty small, and don’t really do justice to the animals.
That being said, we can see signs of change; they are currently undergoing massive redesign of some sections, which I would be very interested to see. It is a very old zoo, so a lot of the enclosures will have been there for a long time; I’m sure over time, they will refurbish more and more and continual improvement will make a difference.
Our favourite part of the zoo would definitely be the Giant Pandas (on loan from China) – they have a really well designed enclosure area (isn’t all that large though), which allows you to get a great view of them – something we simply don’t get to enjoy back home.
I’d heartily recommend to anyone who is in the area to go and visit San Diego Zoo – but allow a full day, and be warned that it is quite hilly – possibly even more so that Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. They do have a bus service which can be used to move around the zoo, which does help, and they have escalators at key points to make getting from the “canyons” up to the higher areas much less taxing.
I’ll post more about the zoo and some photos over at the ZooBeat Forums
You can see more of these photos in our gallery: San Diego Zoo