June 17, 2017

Animals in San Diego

by Rosemary

We spent eight hours at the San Diego Zoo. Apparently that wasn't enough, because two days later we went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

This Malaysian tiger is unaware that its species is critically endangered.
Like most of the animals we saw, it looks comfortable and relaxed.

The panda enjoys an afternoon nap.

A dozing bonobo sinks into the grass.

Even a grizzly bear looks sweet at naptime.

The recommended daily dose of cuteness is provided by a baby gorilla and the meerkats.

The basic ticket prices are the same at the Zoo and the Safari Park. (We got a slight discount by buying both together.) But from that point on, the Safari Park seems geared toward squeezing more and more money out of its visitors. For example, there is a short tram ride included with basic admission. The wait for the tram can be 30-60 minutes, standing in the sun. For an $8 upgrade, some visitors can get ahead of the line. There is a cheetah run each afternoon. People who want to stand a little closer to the cheetah enclosure can pay $8 for the privilege. Most of the Safari Park's animals are in large fields, intended to simulate a natural environment. It is possible to glimpse them from a few viewpoints in the park, but taking a cart or truck "safari" to get a closer look requires paying another fee ($50-$111 or more). Parking at the Zoo is free, but at the Safari Park it's $15. Food and drinks at attractions are always a bit pricey, but the Safari Park is over the top, charging $5.69 for a non-refillable soda, or $11.99 for one that can be refilled. Yikes!

We don't regret going to the Safari Park, but we felt that the Zoo was a much better value, with more animals to see, easier access, and more comfort (the Safari Park is in Escondido, where it's at least 10 degrees hotter).

We were impressed by the number of rhinos at the Safari Park - with babies!

Antelope lounge in the grass.
Fortunately for them, the lions are in a completely separate enclosure.

It was great fun to watch the elephants splashing and sparring. We captured some of it on video.

Of course, there is a lot more to San Diego than its zoos. Coronado Island has beautiful beaches, fancy hotels and restaurants, upscale residential areas, and a cute shopping district.

This whimsical sculpture by Daniel Stern stands outside the Coronado Community Center.
Balboa Park has 1200 acres of walks, hikes, gardens, and museums, as well as street performers, free organ recitals, and all kinds of eccentric characters.

You can enjoy exotic flowers in the Botanical Building,
or drive a wicker chair down the main walkway.

The Japanese Garden is a peaceful place to cool off after an eventful afternoon.

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