Visiting zoos is something we try to do whenever we travel and over the years we have compiled a list of our favorites. The San Diego Zoo is one that has always been on our list of “must see” places and we decided it would be a great way to kick off the vacation by visiting on Christmas Day. The zoo is located within Balboa Park in San Diego. The area is in the middle of the city yet you feel like you are a world away. It is truly breathtaking!
We weren’t the only ones with the “Let’s spend Christmas at the zoo” idea as the place was PACKED but the crowds didn’t slow us down. The sun was shining making it an absolute beautiful day to take in this amazing zoo. The zoo was moderately priced with an all day admission for a family of four running about $200. This included unlimited rides on the aerial tram, the zoo tour bus and the hop on, hop off Kangaroo bus. We began our visit by walking through the African exhibit admiring many amazing animals along the way. We quickly realized that the zoo bus tour should have probably been the first thing we did upon arriving. The double decker buses take each zoo visitor on a 45 minute narrated tour of the zoo. The zoo is HUGE and this tour is a great way to get a quick view of the exhibits and then determine which areas you want to explore further by foot.
One of our favorite exhibits at the zoo was the cheetah enclosure. Two of the San Diego cheetahs were selected to be trained as Zoo ambassadors and were paired with domestic dogs. It was amazing to see dogs and cheetahs living and playing together in the same enclosure. We learned from the zoo bus tour that pairing a dog with a cheetah helps the cheetah relax and feel more comfortable in its surroundings. The cheetahs are paired with their “dog buddy” when both are just babies. They play, spend time together and become best friends. The relaxed body language of the dog helps the cheetah to learn that there is nothing to fear and calms the tendencies cheetah have to flee and helps them to understand that everything is okay. It was truly an amazing site to see a golden retriever living and playing with a cheetah.
The zoo truly was an amazing place! We spent the entire day walking around and just enjoying the animals and the beautiful plants and trees. Our zoo admission allowed us to leave and re-enter later in the evening for Jungle Bells. At sunset, the entire zoo transformed itself into a glittering, winter wonderland with lights on anything that didn’t move. We decided to leave the zoo for a brief geocaching adventure while waiting on sunset. When we returned, we grabbed hot cocoa and hopped on the Kangaroo bus to take in the sights and sounds of Jungle Bells. The Kangaroo bus is a wonderful hop on, hop off bus with five stops throughout the zoo property. It is a great way to get from various points within the zoo and save yourself some walking at the same time.
Of course, we had to do some geocaching as well. Lucky for us there is a Virtual inside the Zoo. We were able to quickly gather the information for the San Diego Zoo Virtual (GCHBT3) as we did our tour. We also found:
All in all, we had a fabulous time at the San Diego Zoo. It definitely made for a special Christmas Day and one that we won’t soon forget!