The San Diego Zoo is one of the largest, most progressive zoos in the world with over 4,000 animals of more than 800 species. It is privately operated by the nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego on 100 acres of parkland leased from the City of San Diego, and ownership of all animals, equipment and other assets rests with the City of San Diego.
There is an extensive new elephant exhibit presently being built, but we enjoyed seeing them up close munching on some tree branches. See more on the zoo's elephant web cam link.
The little giraffe seen in this photo was born this past spring.
Exhibits are often designed around a particular habitat. The African Rain Forest habitat featured gorillas, and you can see a few in the photo below. There is a hard plastic window viewing area and many gorillas were asleep right at the edge of the window! It was fascinating seeing them so close up. Look at the size of this one's feet!
You can see how the windows wind around the exhibit walls to allow for the best view.
The San Diego Zoo is extremely active in conservation and species preservation efforts. It has a "Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species," and many species are bred in captivity for release into their native habitats where appropriate.
Below is the underwater viewing area of hippo exhibit in the "Ituri Forest" section. Every now and then they would raise their noses above water to breathe. They look happy!
One of the most popular exhibits is the "Giant Pandas Research" station. The zoo and China agreed on a 12-year research loan of two giant pandas, and presently there are four Pandas in residence.
No, he wouldn't turn around.... I guess he's a little camera shy. I know how that feels!
The zoo has a Panda Cam so maybe you can get a peek at what he looks like if you click on the link.
The "Polar Bear Plunge" area is one of the most famous highlights at the San Diego zoo! It represents the Arctic tundra, and has Siberian reindeer, Pallas' cats, northern birds, and native plants, along with polar bears, on exhibit. We had a lot of fun watching this bear play with a ball in the under water viewing area ! There is also a polar bear web cam available. The zoo cools the water to 58 degrees so the bears seem to enjoy swimming most of the time.
Male and female Zebras standing together look like bookends.
Camels always appear to be smiling to me.
A Koala in a eucalyptus tree. The San Diego Zoo has the largest koala population and the most successful koala breeding program outside of Australia.
The "Owens Rain Forest Aviary" offers bird lovers an up-close look at more than 200 feathered friends representing 60 species and about 180 birds. The free-flight aviary simulates the sights and sounds of a real Southeast Asian jungle environment. It focuses on exotic species from Southeast Asia and Australia, including flowers, ferns, and foliage indigenous to that region.
The "Wings of Australasia" aviaries presents some of the diverse jewels of the San Diego Zoo's bird collection, one of the premier collections of birds found anywhere in the world. These aviaries are currently home to over 100 birds native to Australasia. There are 36 exhibits within five modules of aviaries designed to house multiple species of birds.
If you love birds this is the zoo to visit!San Diego's mild Mediterranean climate makes it possible to grow more different kinds of plants than almost anywhere else in the United States. There are many winding paths lined with tropical trees and flora and fauna.
There were many beautiful and fragrant flowers in bloom everywhere!
Caribbean flamingos have been exhibited at the Zoo since 1932, and they have been at the front entrance for over 50 years. They are called the Zoo's "unofficial ambassadors!"
The San Diego Zoo is part of Balboa Park. Balboa Park is made up of more than 1000 acres and offers fifteen museums, various gardens, arts and international culture associations managed and maintained by the Developed Regional Parks Division of the City of San Diego Park & Recreation Department.
Many of the museums along Balboa Park's Prado are housed in magnificent Spanish Colonial Revival buildings, originally constructed for the 1915–1916 Panama-California Exposition. It was the first time that this richly decorated, highly ornamental architectural style had ever been used in the United States.
The Museum of Man with the California Tower which has carillon bells that chime every 15 minutes.
The Casa del Prado, also known as the Casa, and the adjacent Casa del Prado Theatre are historic reconstructions of buildings from the 1915 Pan American Exposition. They are also the home to a number of youth arts organizations, the Park and Recreation dance program, and the San Diego Botanical Garden Foundation and library. The exquisite churrigueresque sculptural architectural ornament can been seen in the following three close ups:
The Botanical Building houses more than 350 species of plants and displays which are changed seasonally.
Later that same day we went to Petco Park to see the San Diego Padres baseball team vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The handsome and historic Western Metal Supply Company Building has been renovated and incorporated into the ballpark. The 98-year-old structure houses the Padres Team Store on the first floor, with a door opening onto a standing room area in left field. The second and third floors feature festive private suites. A restaurant on the fourth floor provides terrace dining with superb views of the field. You can see it in the photo below.
This is where we had dinner and we sat on the terrace to watch a few innings. This is the view we had from that vantage point.