It’s all happening at the zoo

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Today the itinerary had us going to the San Diego Zoo, which is my one of my very favorite zoos. I’ve been visiting it since I was a little kid and it’s the zoo I measure all others against. It had been a long time since I’d been back, easily 10 or 11 years, so I was pretty excited:

I think I take a picture of this flamingo/peacock combo every time. I’ve probably photographed these flamingos great-great-grandparents. (How long do flamingos live, anyway?)

We got there pretty soon after they opened, which was great because it wasn’t crowded yet and they were feeding some of the animals. We made a beeline for the big cats, before they fell asleep for the day. Almost all of them were stalking around in front of their habitats, looking exactly like our cats at home. One notable exception was the mountain lion, who was watching us haughtily from up on high:

And the leopards, who were too busy chasing each other around their enclosure:

It was pretty ridiculous to watch them in action. We also swung by the pandas before that exhibit got crazy crowded. Everyone was sleeping, which was still pretty cute:

Later on, we would stand in a crazy long line to see them eating, which was even cuter:

Next highlight was the hippo exhibit, which has a unique underwater viewing area. Last time I was there, the hippo had a baby, which was so much fun to watch. So, I was delighted that they had a new baby boy, who was about a year old. When we got there, he was lazily chasing the ducks around his pen, which got him all riled up and then he started playing with Mama Hippo:

They were so cute. He even did a barrel roll in the water, which was something I didn’t even know hippos could do. Eventually, they petered out and retreated to take a nap on the other side of the pen, so we moved on. We managed to see most of the zoo before lunch, certainly all of our favorite parts. Such as the muddy polar bear:

And the lovey, sleepy tiger “cubs”:

I made T take a picture of me next to the extinct giant cat (apparently, this was a life-sized statue.)

After a little break for lunch, we hit the last few sections of the zoo we’d missed. For some reason, we had a hard time finding the Orangutan trail:

Apparently, it’s at the nexus of the universe… 😉 But we asked a nice zoo employee and he helped us out. (Hint, you have to go through the aviary… ) There were a bunch of youngsters playing down below, but I thought these two were so adorable just surveying all of the hub-bub.

Both of us were tired of walking around, so we took advantage of the bus tour that came with our zoo ticket and spent a very pleasant 45 minutes looking at animals from the comfort of a double-decker bus. (Very similar to tourists in NYC… ) We got a chance to see the baby koala actually awake (which is really rare, they sleep 22 hours a day.) and a few other fun things we would have missed. Then we hit up the Skyfari for an arial view of the zoo:

I was too scared to hang my camera over the side for a picture, so that will have to do… Then we re-visited a few of our favorite exhibits, just to make sure nothing good was happening. (This is where we got to see to eating pandas.) Then a last zoo snack for the boy:

We were pretty tired, but both agreed that we’d planned our day pretty perfectly. And even the cloudy weather had really worked in our favor, as it was the perfect walking around temperature. We’d been planning to go out for a drink after dinner, but were too tired for that to be appealing, so we opted to grab a bottle of wine and some chocolate at Trader Joes and have a drink on our balcony. It was very pleasant, sitting out there, looking out at the water and chatting. Despite my overall disappointment in our hotel choice, that was one area where it was a very excellent selection.

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