I’m not sure how I feel about zoos. On the one hand, it is great to see animals in the flesh and close up – on the other, they really should be in their own habitat. My experiences on this trip have also been fairly evenly balanced: Central Park Zoo seemed to be pretty good, with the emphasis on awareness of conservation issues. The Bear Park near Rapid City was pretty disgusting – loads of bears wandering about doesn’t seem too bad, but there was no mention of releasing them into the wild nor conserving areas where they would live.
So, when I visited San Diego, I had to way up my feelings about visiting one of the most famous zoos in the world. It has to be said that San Diego Zoo gets really good reviews, particularly in terms of the size of the areas for the animals and how it protects endangered species. So, I had no real issue going there, as long as the reviews were right. Thankfully, they were.
It was a remarkably hot and sunny day, so I slapped on plenty of sunscreen and drove to the zoo. There was plenty of parking and I got the feeling that the place wasn’t that busy. It’s not quite the holiday season here. From what I’m told it pretty much starts after the 4th July. My feeling was right. There was no queue for tickets and I wandered around, only really experiencing small crowds around the apes and the hippos.
I did have to queue to see the Giant Pandas. One of them had had a baby, so it had been arranged that people can file past slowly. The queue wasn’t that big, but it was moving really slowly. A sign informed us that we have to remain silent throughout, yet there is a keeper speaking into a microphone and blaring out of loud speakers telling us stuff about the pandas! If pandas are as intelligent as they (the so-called experts) reckon, they must be bored as hell having to listen to that over and over again!
There are bus tours and a Skyfari (it’s an open cable car that takes you from one side of the park to another) to help you get about. I chose to walk most of it. I took the Skyfari to the far end and walked my way back.
The usual animal viewing thoughts apply:
A lot of the animals were asleep in an area barely visible.
Some were visible, but asleep.
Some were not visible at all – how long is anyone prepared to stare at an enclosure before doubting whether there is anything in there at all?
Some were wandering about and doing stuff – I think this is what makes the apes so entertaining. Obviously, there is the whole human connection thing, but they always seem to be up to something…even if it’s throwing poo.
I really enjoyed the place and I spent most of the day there – I thought I would only be a couple of hours. I would normally wander from enclosure to enclosure, but I stopped at a few to watch the animals for a while.
I took loads of photos, some of which I will post soon.