Tuesday, September 16, 2008

San Diego Zoo ~ Balboa Park ~ Padres Baseball

The day before my husband had three days of convention meetings to attend, we tried to see as much of San Diego together as possible. First on our agenda was the San Diego Zoo. We have been to many wonderful zoos in many states, but everyone told us this one was not to be missed.
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.

The Zoo offers optional guided bus tours and an overhead gondola lift called the "skyfari" for a fee.

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.

Click on this photo to enlarge it to see the adorable face of this panda siting in the tree! I almost missed seeing her!

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.

Many of the park's attractions are along El Prado, a long, wide promenade running through the center of the park that you can see in the photo below.
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 Plaza de Panama Fountain with the House of Hospitality in the background, where the visitors center is located.

The Spreckels Organ Pavilion is the home of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ with over 4,500 pipes. Constructed for the 1915 Pan American Exposition and given to the city by John and Adolf Spreckels, the Pavilion is located in the heart of Balboa Park and is the setting for a wide variety of public and civic events. Free, public organ concerts by the Civic Organist or guest artists are presented at 2:00pm every Sunday afternoon of the year.

The Botanical Building houses more than 350 species of plants and displays which are changed seasonally.

The San Diego Natural History Museum is one of the oldest scientific institutions in the western United States.

There was so much to see and do in Balboa Park I returned one day by myself, while my husband was in convention meetings, to attend the current "Georgia O’Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle" exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art , which is one of the country's leading art institutions, with approximately 500,000 visitors annually.
Balboa Park is certainly one of San Diego's gems!

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.

This is the view we had from our right field seats. We seemed to be surrounded by Dodgers' fans!

Since it was a long day, and we were tired from all the walking we did in the zoo and Balboa Park, we left after the seven inning stretch when the Padres were winning 2-1, but we later learned they lost the game 6 -2. I hate to see the home team lose, so I'm happy I wasn't there to see that happen.

All in all we had a wonderful day, and I was happily anticipating meeting fellow bloggers Cori and Joanne for the first time the next day -- next blog post!


Betsy said...

That zoo looks amazing! I was always partial to Koalas growing up! :)

dana said...

Oh, Pat, the San Diego Zoo looks incredible. I have to admit that I am really squeezed on time--getting ready for a sale on Sat.--so I just skimmed the text and feasted on the fabulous photos. I will check this later, to read in detail and watch the film of the animals. That polar bear and panda bear exhibits---MY favorite! We went to the zoo in DC and got to see pandas! So exciting. I just KNEW your photos would be terrific and you certainly came through with some great ones. Glad you're home safely. Dana (Missed you!)

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!
What a fabulous trip to San Diego you had! I've heard the zoo there is one of the best in the country and it looks like it's true. Your photos are absolutely beautiful! You got such good shots of the animals and some of my very favorites.
I'm so excited, and jealous, that you got to meet Joanne!! That's so incredible! She said she just loved meeting with you and had so much fun talking with you. Two of my favorite people in one spot, who knew? I'm glad you had such a wonderful time!!
Hugs, Sherry

Edie Marie's Attic said...

PS. I had trouble with blogger post the other day and we had to power down our computer to get some of our normal computer functions to fix themselves. I gave up on working on any posts that day!

Joanne Kennedy said...

What a fun post. I love animals of every kind. Sometimes I just love to go to the zoo but then other times I think about it and I hate they are trapped in there. I know the zoo does great things for some animals and most are there because of one reason or another and not that the zoo trapped them in the wild. So I have to think good things when I go there or I get sad. I'm crazy I know.

I have not been to the San Diego zoo in many years. It sure has changed. They didn't used to have the glass walls. There were just open spaces and then big ditches between you and the animals. I guess they figured out some animals could fall down there or something. So it was changed.

Great shots though. You take wonderful pictures.

Sorry to hear about your daughters car. What kind did she have? How is she feeling now? Poor thing.


Kathy - Have Suitcase-Will Travel said...

I so enjoyed this post Pat, I got to feed that baby Giraffe when we were there (me and about one hundred children haha), I just love Giraffe's. I had to skip right on by the camel though, and Balbao Park is amazing isnt it, you sure had a busy day, glad you enjoyed it, hugs, Kathy.

My blogs down for the time being, but will still be around reading and commenting with my morning or evening cup of tea.

Gina said...

Fabulous photos Pat..it's almost like being there!..and your panda shot is adorable..even if it's from behind..and those underwater ones are incredible!! Aren't koalas the cutest?
I'll never forget the time I held one :D Have a wonderful weekend Gxx

Cori G. said...

HI Pat,
Such amazing architecture! Did you see the Shakespearean Theater "The Old Globe"? They have an excellent cafe next door.
It looks like you had such a wonderful time and it's great that you could share it with your hubby.
Have a wonderful Friday.
XO Cori

Lisa B. said...

Wow what a full day! That is a beautiful zoo and you got some amazing photos!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, wonderful photos! what a wonderful trip it looks like you had.


Nihal said...

What I know is that the San Diego Zoo is the world's most famous zoo w/ variety of animals. I'd love to see it more than Hollywood, lol:)
Those close-up photos of the exquisite churrigueresque sculptural architectural ornaments are magnificient! Without an architecture of our own, we have no soul of our own civilization, don't you.

A very rich article, thank you soooo much again Pat.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

How fun: I saw that same Georgia O'Keefe exhibit. Wasn't that a story to wonder at, all those talented women and the man that they connected through.

I'm a native San Diego girl, worked at the SD Zoo in college and my grandfather raised the money for the 1930's exhibition at Balboa Park. It is such a treat to see my home town through another blogger's eyes.