This year I realized a childhood dream. I became a member of the San Diego Zoological Society. I have always loved the San Diego Zoo and especially enjoyed the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The zoos are world class and their breeding programs for endangered species are spectacular. Best of all they provide the opportunity for children and adults to get up close and personal with animals they would otherwise never see while giving them an education on why every species is important and worth protecting. Or ecosystems are such delicate balances of life and one hole in the food chain can be catastrophic. But this isn't meant to be lecture on conservation. This is a post on why you should grab your kids and get to the zoo!
My mom and I took the kids on a lovely fall day in January (fall in January? Yes! Or so it seemed). The weather was perfect for walking around the massive, hilly zoo without breaking too much of a sweat. The animals seemed to be enjoying the weather as well because they were out in full force! The gorillas came right up to the glass and were interacting with the guests. The orangutans were putting on a fabulous show during feeding time (Unfortunately so was Ben. Nothing like a massive tantrum in front of 40 people and a troop of Orangutans.I should also mention that Ben was most fascinated by the electrical outlets the zoo had in ground. I swear that boy is a piece of work) We got to catch a rare glimpse of the the snow leopard, an animal almost never seen in the wild. The river otters were basking in the sun and the polar bear was doing his best to make you believe he was a cuddly snuggle bear instead of a killing machine.
We saw a duck with a blue bill and flamingos with bright pink foliage (did you know flamingos are pink because of the shrimp that they eat). The panda bear decided to climb up high in the trees to take in the view (according to the docent this was a first for this panda).
My favorite part of the day was when we got to see the baby koala cuddled up and snuggling with its mama. I swear it was one of the cutest things I had ever seen. This weekend was Koalapalooza in honor of the baby koala. They had a number of Australian themed activities and a name the baby koala contest. It seems there is always something special happening at the zoo.
The new Elephant Odyssey exhibit will be opening in the late spring. According to the Zoonooz Magazine, "Elephant Odyssey will take you on a journey through time, from when mammoths and saber-toothed cats roamed Southern California to their relatives and counterparts living today." I can't wait!
The San Diego Zoo is a perfect example of what all zoos should strive to be. Fantastic exhibits full of enrichment for the animals, activities and education for the visitors, and hope for the so many endangered species that might not otherwise have a chance.