Walking and talking with the Animals

sKY & slaDE at the San Diego Zoo entranceHippo dreamsQueen of the HipposPanda-liciousSan Diego has a world re-known first class Zoo that I’ve always wanted to visit. With lousy weather back at the drop zone, it seemed like an ideal time to play tourist and navigate this city from the ground (read blog entry from yesterday where we explored San Diego from the air). Balboa Park and the Zoo seemed like a good location to start. The vast variety of animals housed here is extraordinary. For the most part, you name it and we saw those animals from around the world.

  • My favourites by far were the dancing ballerina Hippos, the pecking Peacocks and the Giant Chinese Panda.

2 Giant CatsHanging HubbyLearning something new everyday!Meerkat ManorDespite our awesome visit today, I’m still somewhat torn by the concept of zoos within the confines of an urban area.  Although incredible research and conservation efforts may take place, helping certain species to survive, the lack of freedom and space available for these creatures might be considered inhumane and even jail-like, with limited room to move around, flourish and grow freely and without restricted boundaries. And the larger the animal, the bigger the tragedy. For example, take an elephant or a killer whale. Only just recently, a female trainer was mauled killed by a 12000 pound killer whale at Orlando’s Sea World Shamu Stadium. When you take dangerous wild animals out of their normal natural environment, I wonder what affect it has on their psychological, physical and social well-being and needs?

Scary HyenaA not-so-wise OwlFlaming FlamingosPumba the WarthogThe array of colours, sounds and smells throughout the Zoo were enlivening and thrilling. We made an effort to witness the different feedings and shows where we could during the day. The bird show had us tickled with laughter and awe; so much so that we particpated in the second showing of “Take Flight: An Avian Adventure” (think Harry Potter-like giant Owls and incredibly colourful singing parrots mixing with exotic rare birds and birds of prey such as a Peregrine Falcon and an American Bald Eagle). However, the winners of my affection were the dancing Hippos thrust in chaotic mosh-pit maneuvers both above and below water. Hippos intrigue me (read about my wild Hippo Malawi encounter here) to the point of fanaticism. Pissed off PeacocksBeauty bountiful feathered PeacockBut with the experience I had in Africa, I’m thinking that you’ll understand my fascination :). An Arctic WolfAnd then the culmination of our day led us to the panda bear exhibit, with Mama Panda Bai Yun enjoying her lunchtime snack of bamboo. Did you know that Pandas, a true bear, will not eat the outer bark of the bamboo plant, so they tear off the outer green skin before eating the fibrous bamboo?

All in all it was a glorious day of discovery and delight intermixed with feelings of sadness and educated contemplation. Wanting to top the day with an ocean sunset, we drove out to Mission Beach, grabbed ourselves a frothy tasty hot chocolate and nestled ourselves in to a comfy sand dune for the sun’s ocean dive. Mission Beach sunsetSpectacular colours and rhythmic waves lulled us into peaceful silence and gratitude; we are so thankful for a glorious Californian trip thus far. Pods of seaweed everywhereTruly, we are SO blessed! Not only do we have the freedom to travel and pursue our dreams at such a ripe young age, we have each other to explore the realms of opportunity together. FabulouS!

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