San Diego Zoo

Location: San Diego, CA

Today marks the first full day of our second anniversary trip. Our destination this year is San Diego, California to see the zoo and emperor penguins at Sea World. We had an uneventful direct flight here last night.

From previous visits, Ryan knew that the zoo was a full day ordeal, so we decided to get to the San Diego Zoo as soon as it opened. This required us to wake up very early at 7:30 AM (or 10:30 according to our internal clocks). Easy enough. We got to the zoo shortly before 9 and were one of the first through the gates.

Our first stop was to beat the crowds to see the pandas. We spent about 20 minutes here, most of which we were the only visitors at the exhibit. We got to get much closer than we normally would at the National Zoo. Bai Yun (mother) was mostly inactive, but she did treat us with an interesting view of her scratching an itch. Meanwhile Xiao Liwu (child) ate and later posed for the camera.

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When you got an itch… you gotta scratch!
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Bai Yun – aka Mama Bear
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Xiao Liwu – aka The Youngster. This looks like a GQ pose…

We next visited the large raptors where we saw the rare harpy eagle, andean condor, and a sea eagle.

 

Harpy Eagle
Harpy Eagle
Sea Eagle
Sea Eagle

We changed things up a bit and got up close to polar bears.

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A selfie with the polar bear! (from a phone camera)
A selfie with the polar bear! (from a phone camera)

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And because it was starting to get more crowded quickly, we decided to do the skyfari gondola ride before the lines got too long. We followed that up with a guided bus tour of the zoo. We sat on the upper deck of the bus to get a better view of the animals. Unfortunately we sat on the driver side, which turned out to be a mistake as most of the animals were visible only to the right side.

After the bus tour we went to the Outback area of the zoo where we saw Koalas, a tree kangaroo, wallabies, and a Tasmanian devil. The koalas were most asleep. But we did return to this part of the zoo in the late afternoon before we departed and got to see most of the koalas awake and eating. As great as the exhibit was, it was still much cooler be able to see these animals in the wild.

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Following the Aussie section, we visited the Urban Jungle, Africa Rocks, and Elephant Odyssey areas of the zoo. Here we would see many of the great African wildlife specimens, such as lions, giraffes, rhino, hippos and elephants. It served as a taste of things to come for our trip to South Africa that we are currently planning for next fall.

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The last part of the zoo took us to explore several of the large aviaries scattered around the zoo. We got to see some exotic and colorful birds from around the globe.

Collared Lory
Collared Lory
Toucan
Toucan
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (yes... that is the name of this bird)
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (yes… that is the name of this bird)
Flamingo
Flamingo

And of course… lots of monkeys!

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It was about closing time, and we had walked more today than we had on any other day during our travels.  We didn’t get to see every part of the zoo, but we came close, and we certainly saw all of the animals we couldn’t see back home. There is something to say for both being there to open and close the park.

We went back to the hotel and spent some time in the hot tub to soothe our legs, then went out Old City for dinner.

Tomorrow, we meet up with friends in Disneyland.

Total steps: 18,774 (about 7.5 miles)

Total pictures taken so far: 682

 

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