Fall 2021 Tour Episode 2: San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo was a place we hadn’t visited in a long time, so we arranged to meet Kevin and Bailey, our son and his better half, there on Sunday, October 24, 2021. Runners, participating in the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & Half Marathon, foiled our plans.

Jon poses with the statue NGAGI depicting the male mountain gorilla from Belgian, Congo. Captured in1930 by OSA & Martin Johnson. Donated in 1931 by Ellen B. & Robert Scripps. Died January 1944. Weighed 635 pounds. Bronze modeled from life by Holger & Helen Jensen and donated by Rachel Wegeforth.
Even with the street signs and a map, we occasionally lost our way.

Closed freeway exits and road closures had us driving around in circles, trying to escape the traffic. Jon and I stopped at Crest Cafe for breakfast, thinking the traffic would dissipate in about an hour. Kevin and Bailey joined us. Unfortunately, the grid lock had not abated by the time we finished our meals, so we nixed the zoo idea and crawled along for an hour or more before we could shake ourselves loose.

Great Blue Heron
Nap time

Jon and I went back on Tuesday, which turned out to be a very fine day indeed, to visit the zoo. We started with the shuttle to get our bearings. Note to visitors: The best seats to see the animals and take photos is on the right side of the double decker. We had snagged two seats on the left side, which wasn’t so great.

The Koala Forest was my favorite exhibit. They look so cuddly.
The flamingoes are always a treat to watch.

The 1915 Exposition brought more than the architectural buildings to Balboa Park. It also brought exotic animals for display during the exposition. Sadly, many of the animals were abandoned and left to the City of San Diego to care for them.

Zebra shares the enclosure with a friend.
Birds of Paradise thrive in the San Diego climate.

In October 1916, the Zoological Society of San Diego was born and Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth served as president until 1941. Wegeforth was instrumental in the creation of “cageless” exhibits by constructing moats instead of enclosing them with wires.

Rhino munching his dinner
Watcha doin’ down there?

After a few unsuccessful attempts to hire a zoo director, Belle Benchley, the zoo’s bookkeeper, was named as the executive secretary with the duties of the zoo director. Later she was given the title of zoo director and served in that capacity until 1953.

Waterfall on the trail through Africa Rocks

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife alliance, a private nonprofit conservation organization, is now the parent organization for both the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, California.

Meet Amara the cheetah and Hopper the shelter rescue dog. Hopper and Amara were paired under the Animal Ambassador’s program at the zoo and have been together for about 10 years.

We selected Albert’s Restaurant for our lunch. The sit-down diner’s plentiful assortment of soups, salads, and entrees should satisfy most patrons. Wine, beer, and mixed drinks are also available.

Try Albert’s Restaurant for a relaxing lunch at the zoo.

After our meal, we walked around the enclosures, expecting to see more animals. We guessed most of the animals must have been inside eating their meals because there were very few out and about. Birds in the aviaries were the exception.

I love the colorful wings of this bird.
Hey, no smoking allowed. Oh, sorry. It’s only a branch.
Endangered Chacoan Peccary from Chaco, South America

The zoo’s 100 acres (40 ha) house over 12,000 animals of over 650 species and subspecies. In 2018, the zoo reached over 4 million visitors.

Is this guy or gaI a member of the giraffe family?
A show with your meal. These guys sat on a wall next to one of the outdoor eateries.
A mama and baby hippo swam around in this tank. I waited for a better shot and after 10 minutes or more; I was glad I snapped this one.
Okapi from Democractic Republic of the Congo grow skin covered horns called ossicones, like male giraffes. Endangered
Tapirs are closely related to elephants and rhinos.
The fang tooth suggests this is a crocodile.
More monkey fun.

I knew the bronze lion outside the exit gate was something special as soon as I saw it. I never guessed how special until I did a little research and found out how the lion sculpture could stand on only one paw. Rex’s Roar took two years from a sketch design to installation to create the 10-ton bronze sculpture with a stainless steel structure.

Rex’s roar one night after the Exposition is credited with saving the abandoned animals and creating what is now the San Diego Zoo.

Jim Burt of Blue Rhino Studios turned a design sketched by Tim Reamer, former San Diego Zoo Global illustrator, into a 3-D model that was enlarged through a 3-D printing process. Engineered by Thornton Tomasetti and cast by Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, California, Rex stands at 27 feet tall. Craigar and Mark Grosvenor made it all happen through their donation. Watch the Making of Rex on YouTube.

We had a great day at the zoo and another visit may be in the cards the next time we’re in San Diego. Maybe we’ll be able to catch sight of the animals we missed on this visit.

Safe Travels

4 thoughts on “Fall 2021 Tour Episode 2: San Diego Zoo

  1. What a great post! I really enjoyed visiting the San Diego Zoo through your post. It makes me want to visit our St. Louis Zoo which is an outstanding zoo as well. Just need the weather to warm up a bit. Our zoo is “forever free.” I love the idea that young families – and others – can visit without it being a financial burden. Parking is free nearby on the street – if you can find a spot. Otherwise, there are paid lots.

    Liked by 1 person

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