San Diego Zoo

19 Feb

Once we were back from Big Bear, Joseph and I decided that we were going to take a full day to go to the San Diego Zoo.

**WARNING:  I took a ridiculous amount of pictures so be prepared for a cuteness overload if you continue reading down**

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about the San Diego Zoo and that it was huge and you needed plenty of time to go.  Lori took Joseph’s parents and brother to the airport on Tuesday while we watched Chloe so we decided to wait until Wednesday to go so we would have the entire day.  Wednesday morning we woke up, got dressed and ready to go, made lunches and headed off to the zoo!  I was filled with little kid excitement because everyone knows what’s at the zoo that I love so much. 🙂 actually I love all animals but of course I was most excited to see the elephants…shocker.

When we walked up to the entrance, guess what we saw first?

An Elephant Plant!!

An Elephant Plant!!

We hadn’t even made it into the entrance gates before I got to see an elephant!  Sure, it was a plant but still…it got me even more excited.  AND to top it off, when we bought our tickets (by the way Lori is awesome because she has a membership to the SD Zoo and she gets little coupons and gave us two for discounted tickets so we only had to pay $15 each rather than the $30 or $45 that it normally costs) guess what the tickets were?

An Elephant and a Panda!!

An Elephant and a Panda!!

The two animals I was most excited to see!  Joseph argued with me saying he had dibs on the elephant ticket but he was just trying to ruffle my feathers.  Judge me if you will but every time I go to the Houston Zoo I cross my fingers that I will get an elephant ticket and for my ENTIRE life, it has yet to happen there.  But apparently the San Diego Zoo got wind that was making an appearance and decided to have everything turn out perfectly because it was the best zoo trip ever.  Don’t believe me?  Just wait.

First of all, I had been warned at how big the zoo was but I didn’t really grasp that whole concept.  I wish I would have had a pedometer on to see how far we actually walked because we were dying at the end of the day.  Take a look at the trail we took.

(Follow the ghetto red arrows)

Yes I did this in paint.  Don't judge me.

Yes I did this in paint. Don’t judge me. (click on the picture to enlarge)

When we went through the gates, we saw a sign that said “Baby Panda viewing from 9:30-12.”  It was about 9:45/10am so we decided to make our way to do that.  We saw a lady holding something and talking into a headset so we decided to pit stop and take a look.

Beautiful Owl

Beautiful Owl

The owl was fixated on a balloon floating in the air WAY far away.  We could barely see it in the sky but he didn’t blink the entire time we stood there.

We grabbed a map (see picture above) and took a right where we came across a small duck pond.  Joseph was pumped.  It was rather adorable how excited he was about all the different kinds of ducks, even if he did keep saying, “I wish I had my shotgun.”  But that’s besides the point.  He had me take a lot of pictures and we stayed there for about 20 minutes so he could read the info about all the different ducks and watch them for a little bit.


Mallard Ducks, Mandarin Ducks, Wood Ducks, and some type of Geese

We continued on up Sun Bear Trail where we found all of the bears and the otter to be sleeping so we passed rather quickly in order to get to the baby panda viewing.  There was a pretty long line but we didn’t care because we wanted to see the little panda seeing as this was the only opportunity I would have to see one in person.  The line moved pretty quickly and we could see through the fence that he was hanging out where we could barely see him.  By the time we got inside he was hiding behind his mother and I was dying to see him.  I whispered for him to come out (the lady talking about the pandas said they are very sensitive to noise and to be quiet…even if the baby fell from the tree like a rag doll because they can handle it…not to scream, or laugh, or gasp loudly and that it happens all the time. yes, I secretly wished I could have witnessed a fall).  Just about that time, he popped out from behind his mother so I was able to take some pictures of him.

Bottom left is the Dad, the rest are the Baby with the Mom

Bottom left is the Dad, the rest are the Baby with the Mom

The woman said that he was about 6 months old and weighed just around 20 pounds!  Too cute!  After seeing the baby and the mom, we walked over to see the Dad, Gao-Gao.  He happens to be the only male breeding panda outside of China!  The woman talking about him said that during mating season, in order to impress the female, he stands up on his front paws and puts his butt and hind feet high into the air because he is shorter than a lot of other male pandas.  I thought that was pretty funny.

After the pandas, we saw the birds of prey but none were in very good positions to get good pictures.  It actually kind of made me sad because they didn’t really have room to fly in their cages.  Plus, they didn’t have a bald eagle like the Houston Zoo so I wasn’t that impressed.  We carried on into the Polar Rim to see the polar bears and arctic fox!

Polar Bears

One polar bear was sun-bathing, one was swimming, and the other was playing with a large white barrel.  He would fill it up with water then pounce on it to shoot the water out of the side.  It was too cute!  What was weird is that he was looking down the whole time until I said, “I wish he would look up so I could see his face,” and he did.

When we walked by the arctic fox he was running around in his pen and was along the other side of the wall and I said, “He needs to come over here and be still so I can take a picture for Mom.”  (Mom likes watching nature shows about foxes and those kinds of things…)  And guess what the little guy did?

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He came right up to the edge of the pen where I was and stopped with just enough time for me to take a picture of him.  I swear I am the San Diego Zoo Animal Whisperer.

Next we walked over to see the koalas, wallabies, and a maned wolf with really long legs.  This thing was about 4.5 feet tall.

Koala and friends

Next we walked into the Elephant Odyssey.  They had weird elephant art through the ages and fossils of the animals found in Southern California way back when mammoths ruled the land…Oh and a massive elephant statue!

Elephant Art

We walked past the lions and Joseph had to take the picture of him for me because he was laying behind a big boulder that I couldn’t see over.  There was also an interesting warning on his cage…

How mad would you be if you were sprayed with King of the Jungle urine??

How mad would you be if you were sprayed with King of the Jungle urine??

We walked by the Jaguar pen and there was a side with glass instead of the fencing.  As I was walking up, so was a smaller Jaguar.  She was sniffing the ground and I squatted down on her level.  I was about 3 feet away from her with only a piece of glass in between and it was awesome.  I told her to look up because I wanted a picture of her face and guess what she did?  Obeyed the SDZ Animal Whisperer!  Check out this shot!

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And that’s without any zoom!  I’m pretty sure that was her thinking that if the glass wasn’t there, she would make me into her lunch but I didn’t care because she was beautiful and I got a great picture out of it!

We continued on to the elephants and of course I was super excited.  They were further away than the exhibit at the Houston Zoo so it was hard to get a good picture but when we walked around the back side, the handlers were bringing one of the females, Mary, into a pen to take a blood sample for some research.  They apparently send off their blood every two weeks to some scientists that are doing elephant research but didn’t give us any details.  It was the first time I saw an elephant having blood drawn and they took a whopping 20 cc’s which is basically nothing.


We walked around to where the male was held and not many people were around us.  I said hi to the big guy and he just stared at us and continued to eat hay out of a hanging barrel above his head.

Male Phant

When we started to walk further down towards the end of his area, he followed us (again with the animal whispering!).  It was really cute and I like to think that he liked me and wanted to be friends. 🙂

We ate lunch at some tables that over-looked the elephants, which was really pretty and allowed me to see the phants longer without completely boring Joseph to death.

After lunch, we walked by a bunch of random animals and saw these furry little warthogs.

IMG_2851 - CopyJoseph said he was ugly and I didn’t want his feelings to be hurt so I told him he was really cute and that Joseph was just kidding and he stared at me then tried to walk up to me but there was a big dip in the ground like they have at the bear exhibits that keep them from coming all the way to the edge.  I thought many people probably didn’t stop to visit them seeing as they aren’t the most attractive animals there so maybe he was just lonely and enjoyed the company (and the compliment haha).

We walked down Sun Bear Trail again to get over to Urban Jungle.  This time ALL of the bears were wide awake and out to play!  I think that is the first time I have ever seen a bear outside of his den and awake ever at a zoo and it was awesome because they all were!

Even the Otter was awake this time around!

Even the Otter was awake this time around!

As we were walking up to the Urban Jungle, we saw this area called Backstage Pass.  There was currently a group of people behind a barrier of trees being shown some kind of animal.  I peeked through to try to see and I think it was a Wallaby.  We walked a little further and when we looked to the right, you wouldn’t believe what we saw.  Remember how I said this was the best zoo trip ever and the timing was perfect?  Here’s another reason why…


Yes that is a cheetah and YES it is on a leash!  They were in a holding pen to our right and as we were stopped and watching it the handler told us to be very still and to not make any sudden movements because she was going to bring the cheetah outside of the pen and walk it to the one across the road right in front of us.  There was a cheetah.  On a leash.  Ten feet from us.  It could have ripped our faces off! (and by the look she was giving us, she seemed like she may want to…)  Good thing there were two people holding the leash just in case anything happened with the first handler…

We walked a little ways down the street until we saw this little zebra in a holding pen with a handler and it was doing tricks!  It was really cool!  The handler never spoke but the zebra obeyed commands given to her via hand signal.  She turned in circles, knocked over cones, picked up and carried toys, rolled a barrel, shook hands/hooves, took a bow at the end, and even smiled!  How many of you can say you’ve seen a zebra doing tricks?  In case the answer is none of you, I took pictures (and videos but you’ll have to wait to see those once I post them on Facebook).

Zebra Tricks

Unfortunately, I kept missing her smile but I got a video or picture of everything else.

We saw five giraffes, two of which were cute little babies.


That little guy in the middle was probably only Joseph’s height (which is tall for humans but short for giraffes).

We saw lots of monkeys.  Pigmy chimps, orangutans, gorillas, and random small monkeys.


That little pygmy chimp in the top right corner cracked us up several times.  When we first walked up to their exhibit, there was this little Asian family by us: mom, dad, and a little girl.  There was a chimp at the left side of the big window and the other 3 were away in the back right.  The dad of this family thought he would knock on the window at the chimp by us and I was thinking, “You should stop doing that because I’m pretty sure they don’t like that,” but I didn’t actually say it aloud seeing as they weren’t even speaking English.  All of a sudden, one of the monkeys from the back (pictured above) ran up and smacked the window really hard right where the little girl was standing!  If that glass wouldn’t have been there, that would have been one dead little girl.  It was awesome.  I felt bad for the little guy because he clearly was annoyed by them.  The chimps walked around to the other side and Joseph and I followed them to the other window.  There were families with other small children at the window and two little boys were laughing and talking loudly and that same little chimp ran up to the window and slapped at both of them.  I was thinking that maybe he just didn’t like kids.  I tried to get the second time on video but I didn’t hit record fast enough.  Sorry.

We continued past the Orangutan and Monkey Trails to the Hippo Trail then the Tiger Trail.  (as you can see from my ghetto arrows on the map up there, we did several circles trying to see everything)  The hippo was sleeping in the back and the tiger was way up high so I couldn’t get a good picture of either of them.  By the time we were done in that area, we were so exhausted and our feet were killing us so we decided to forgo the children’s section (even though I always walk through it at the Houston Zoo) and were ready to leave, satisfied that we had seen everything we wanted to see.

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We had a great time and I am so glad that we had the whole day to spend there because besides lunch, we were continually walking/looking at animals and spent a total of about 6.5 hours there!  Definitely needed a good chunk of the day for that!

Hope you enjoyed my ridiculously long post about animals and all the pictures I took.  Don’t worry you survived this post and get to see yet another California post tomorrow because I’m still not done! 🙂

2 Responses to “San Diego Zoo”

  1. Katie February 20, 2013 at 1:44 PM #

    Ahh I LOVE the San Diego Zoo but it is exhausting!

  2. Barbara February 20, 2013 at 7:50 PM #

    I loved your pictures –

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