Can you believe it is still smoky in Norcal? Somebody contact the wind gods and get this stuff out of here! I am tired of it. I wanna go out and play. Whine whine whine. Since the smoke wasn't going anywhere we decided we better make the move. The Earnshaw Clan made their way to San Francisco for a day at the zoo. Now I have been to my fair share of zoos (I know it is shocking to those who know me) but I have to say that the SF Zoo is one of my all time favorites. Why? Well for one it is across the street from Ocean Beach. This means you can take in the gorgeous views, run across the street for some sand and surf therapy, or just enjoy the cool air when it is 95 degrees elsewhere. Secondly, they have gorgeous grounds. All the eucalyptus and cypress just makes the whole place smell like San Francisco should. Thirdly, they have a wonderful children's zoo. Perfect for toddlers and animal loving mommy's alike. So sit back, relax, and enjoy our day at the zoo by proxy.
First tip when you get to the SF Zoo- don't pay the $6.00 for parking. Just park on Sloat Street and walk a block or two enjoying the ocean view along the way. If you feel the need to give the zoological society that six dollars then give it to them in the form of a souvenir purchase so you have something to show for your journey. Or be super cheap like me and just grab a couple smashed pennies which are located near the entrance.
Next head over to the nature trail which will be to your left after you give the lovely attendant your ticket. It is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and it is filled with little hands on learning stations. Teenage volunteers will tell you all about the salamander, hedgehog, king snake, or ferret that they are showcasing. I think this is such a wonderful program because it gives children a hands on experience with wildlife that they may not otherwise be familiar with. I personally enjoy quizzing the teenage volunteers and making sure they know their stuff. The kids love touching turtles, petting snake skins, or licking raptor (thats a bird of prey for those of you not in the know) bones like Ben did. I know. Gross. If only we got that move on camera.
There is also a really great prairie dog and meerkat exhibit inside the children's zoo area. You can get nose to nose with one of these adorable creatures with only a panel of glass separating you. There is something about those little guys that makes me want to pull up a chair and watch them for hours. The kids loved playing in the prairie dog tunnel and laughing at their antics. Ben got a kick out of being so close and watching the prairie dog try to get at his pretzel through the window. Mari was full "ooooh wows". A sure sign of entertainment.
The petting zoo is fantastic. Sure its full of sheep and goats but at least they are exotic sheep and goats. Since I love me some sheep I was happy getting a rare glimpse at a Navajo-Churro. Ben enjoyed chasing an African Nigerian Dwarf Goats with a brush in hand, trying to update its "do". Mari wanted to brush a goat but wasn't convinced that touching it wouldn't result in a rapid goat attack. She instead brushed a bench and made repeated attempts to offer the goat her brush as a sign of peace. In addition to goats and sheep there are ducks and alpacas and donkeys and horses. Something for everyone. Oh- and tractors for the kids to ride on. Lots of fun!
The rest of the zoo had your usual lions and tigers and bears (oh my!). We of course had to check out the tiger enclosure and see the improvements that had been made since the infamous Christmas Day attacks. There was a large glass wall and plenty of safety improvements. No tiger was getting out of there again I assure you. One of the highlights for the kids was hearing the lion roar. They got so excited and did their own roars right back to the lion. We had to pull them away from that exhibit!
There is a great lemur and primate area. The lemurs were lazy and laying on the grass below us but the gorillas were active and ready to put on a show. It was so fun to watch them eat and climb trees. They are so quiet and peaceful. It is a shame that that man has destroyed so much of their territory and their status is endangered.
One other great part of the San Francisco zoo is the African Savannah. It is so fun to get up close and personal with giraffes, zebras, and exotic birds.
I know not everyone can get to the San Francisco Zoo but there are so many great zoos all across the world. Each of them holds an opportunity for children to get face to face with animals they might never actually see anyplace else. When children develop a love and respect for animals at a young age they are much more likely to be aware of how their actions effect the planet as they grow older. We have wiped out so many species and many, many more are very close to extinction due to man's destruction. My hope is that if enough children learn to love and respect wildlife and appreciate their importance to the planet maybe we can turn some of these patterns around. So check out a zoo near you with your kids! Help them grow some brain cells and appreciation for the world around them.
If you would like to see the rest of the pictures from our trip (there are some good ones if I do say so myself) than click on the link below.
If you would like to find a great accredited zoo or aquarium near you by using this link:
If you would like to take your own visit to the San Francisco Zoo check out their website for hours and directions:
If you do visit a zoo tell me about it and send me some photos. I would love to share them with your fellow readers! Enjoy your own adventures!