San Diego: At the zoo! - Grampies Go Coastal - CycleBlaze

January 20, 2013

San Diego: At the zoo!

Thirty two years ago we brought our kids to the San Diego Zoo, and it made a big impression on us. We have always wanted to return,

What is it about the zoo, and especially this zoo? I think it's a matter of colour, design, and atmosphere. Here are the bold and also the subtle colours of the animals, from the pink flamingoes, to the striped zebras, to the tarantulas. Here is nature's design for each of the unique life forms on display. And here is a paradise like park, full of tropical plants, tall trees, pathways and gulleys.

The zoo also tries valiantly to stress its role in habitat restoration, species protection, captive breeding and reintroduction, recycling, and so forth. All this makes us feel better about having animals in cages, but I bet 99% of visitors are here to look at the colour and design. And oh yes, the animals are sooo cute!

Possibly to the horror of our biologist daughter, we are among the 99%. So like most others, we snapped a zillion photos, with stress on the animal superstars like panda, elephant, polar bear, etc. We walked for eight hours, that is, from the moment they opened to the moment they closed. And guess what - we're going back tomorrow because we only did the half of it!

Our visit was not just " ooo, look at the (you name it)" {click} {click}, though you will see the results of some of that below.

First anecdote: We started with the bus tour of the site, to get an overview. The two staffers who greeted those lining up for the bus congratulated us all on beating the rush and being at the park early. They said that in the cool morning they are fresher, and could deliver us a better visitor experience. Then they did a little dance. Later, while waiting for a bus to come into position at the loading point, one of them closed a barrier chain, but then paced back and forth behind it, swinging his head, in the manner of a bored zoo animal. It was all deliberate, of course, but low key, and showing a flash of understanding of the zoo experience from the animals' perspective.

Second anecdote: Dodie spotted the opportunity to feed the giraffes. You just had to pay $5. Later you would receive three giraffe cookies and be admitted to an area where the giraffes could lean down and take them from you. Limited tickets went on sale at 11 and you could feed the giraffes beginning at 12. At 11 a long line formed, and we were of course there, near the front. Dodie bought me a ticket, since it is I that childishly had to do this. She would be the photographer.

We got back to the giraffe area at 12:15 and found a long line, and we were not near the front. So Dodie gave me the ticket, and I joined the line in the sun, while she retired to the shade near the actual giraffe area. After a while a lady came up to me and said that Dodie had spied her little daughter, Sophia, terribly disappointed because tickets to feed the giraffes were long ago sold out. Dodie suggested Sophia piggyback on our ticket and one of our three giraffe cookies.

But just before this I had discovered that the ticket had disappeared from my grasp, or pocket, or whatever. I was in a bind, because to go consult Dodie about it or go searching the grounds behind I would have to leave the line. But just just standing there, I had no ticket! So I got Sophia's mom to hold the spot in line and went searching for the ticket. Found it! So it meant that Dodie's kindness was instantly rewarded with a giraffe feeding for all of us. Some kind of life lesson there.

Oh, p.s., when the giraffe bent down to Sophia, she freaked. Can't win them all!

Our hotel, chosen because it is closest to the Zoo
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The people begin to pour in early. Later in the day they were quite thick, but shared nicely when it came to viewing space along railings, etc.
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The people begin to pour in early. Later in the day they were quite thick, but shared nicely when it came to viewing space along railings, etc.
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Dancing, funny staff member
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Pairing dogs with big cats is part of a plan to get the cats out among the public. That is all just public relations, but we love the idea.
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Cat walkers!
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Gefahr of the day!!
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The lineup for giraffe feeding tickets
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Feeding a giraffe!
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Sophia and her parents.
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