Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lions and tigers and bears...

I can't figure out how to post pictures here without one stacking on top of another. I'm sure there's a way, but I don't have the proper motivation or technical savvy to accomplish it. Instead, I put our San Diego vacation photos up on Facebook. You should be able to browse through them even if you aren't a Facebook member. The snapshots feature an assortment of animals, including me and Serafin! Take a look here:


The photos are laid out chronologically, beginning with our visit to the Wild Animal Park, which ends with a swimming duck. Our San Diego Zoo visit starts with the orangutan photos and concludes with a shot of a tree wallaby. We took the remaining pictures at Balboa Park.

The Wild Animal Park admission includes a tram ride, which, honestly, wasn't very impressive. The animals are so far off in the distance that you don't get a great view unless they happen to be situated nearby. Even with my small pair of binoculars, I couldn't see much of significance on the ride. We caught some closer views while walking around the Park and looking at the individual exhibits. You'll notice that there's a lion lying right at the plexiglass in the first two photos. We got lucky with those. He sauntered up to the glass just as we were standing there. When we were at the elephant exhibit, a special tour group came to feed them, so we also got to see the pachyderms a little closer than expected. That's the thing. You can take advantage of photo caravan rides or insider tours if you pay $70 and up per person. Getting up close and personal doesn't come cheap. Then again, we had some chance encounters of our own without paying anything extra. In addition to the lion and elephants, the meerkats popped out of their burrow while we were peering over the edge of their enclosure.

I hadn't been to the San Diego Zoo since I was about 5 years old. I don't have any memories of it, but I've seen pictures of me standing by a Zoo sign and next to a petting zoo goat. The biggest draw for me this time around was the pandas. You have to wait in a separate line within the Zoo just to see them, but the line inches along steadily. Once you make it into the panda space, there's a zookeeper on a microphone giving background information, telling visitors not to make loud noises or talk above a whisper, and nudging folks to keep the line moving. In terms of somewhat closer views, we saw the following: an orangutan right behind a plexiglass wall, a snow leopard pacing the edge of its cage, a giant anteater walking back and forth in front of its enclosure, and a giraffe leaning down to investigate a group of people.

Balboa Park is so expansive that we didn't get to see everything. There are a number of museums, but we decided to go to only one: the Museum of Man. Other than that, the Japanese Friendship Garden happened to be closed on Mondays, which was the day we were there. Had we researched these things beforehand, we could also have caught a concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, which houses one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs. In lieu of the free concert they offer on Sundays, I took a picture of Serafin on the stage.

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