I’ve spent a bit of time talking about our recent bouts of homesickness. Thankfully I can report that we’re all cured for a while and we’re moving onwards and upwards.
Why? We went home! We heard the ads on the radio, we heard the talk around town and we thought, “why not?”, we need a bit of Koalafornication at the San Diego Zoo. (Although a bit of David Duchovny Californication might have done the trick too).
It’s such an easy drive from LA straight down the 405 to San Diego there’s no excuse not to go–regardless of whether you’re visiting LA or live in LA. It should be about a two-hour drive but nearly died when the GPS told us it would be a lot more. My precision timing had us to the zoo just after 10:00 which I figured would be early enough to get a park, get our tickets and avoid the long queues for the Pandas. Instead it had us coming in at closer to 11:00. Sigh. Why are we always late? (Actually I’m partly to blame because I insisted on being Superwoman and baking fresh Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday).
It turns out the GPS wanted us off the 405 to avoid traffic. We went with our gut, stayed on the 405 and we were there just after 10:00. Success. (Note: we could’ve been lucky, if you’re stuck in traffic on the 405 it can add hours to your trip so it might pay you to detour).
The carpark was filling fast and there were queues at every ticket window. Either this zoo is really popular or we’ve come at the wrong time. Or both? I’m pleased to report the queue moved quickly, just enough time to take a family selfie, look around and we were in. Once we were inside we didn’t feel like the zoo was so super busy that there were people everywhere so it was nice. All good. Straight for the Pandas.
It’s so good having older kids who can read a map, less for me to do. We opted against the bus (as it seems this is where most of the entrants wanted to go) and decided to do the SkySafari. Bit of a queue but it moved quickly and it would get us to the Polar Bears and Pandas so we could walk downhill in time to have lunch at the Sydney Grill.
I heard a story that the San Diegans love their Pandas. The town goes into “Pandamonium” when one of the Pandas does something and when one gives birth it’s like the future King (or Queen) of England is born. And why not? Pandas look like they should be cuddly and fluffy and because we’re not going to go near them let us believe that. They are so cute. Besides it’s good to see a town get behind their very own.
(Tip: Even if there is a queue for the Pandas there are things to see on the “journey” so don’t be put off by it).
The highlight of our morning wasn’t the Pandas though–it was the Polar Bears. How fun are they? They are show-offs, stirrers and just big kids who love to have a good time. Check this:
After lunch we headed to the impressive Koala Exhibit. Thoughts of Austen Tayshus’s Australiana came straight to mind: “How much can a Koala Bear?” Loved the fact that the hosts on the buses had to spell out, “Did you know the Koala is not a Bear?” on their way past the exhibit and I wonder a) how they came to be known as a Koala Bear (or a Koala Be even–you know who you are Phillippa Jones!) and b) how Americans are still surprised by that fact.
But as good as it was the Australian Outback wasn’t the highlight of our afternoon. No, the Tortoises were. Yep. The Tortoises. All the way from the Galapagas. The over 100 years old and still going strong. It was feeding time and one of the tortoises (let’s call him Piggy) ate a whole head of lettuce then started playing tug-o-war with his mate’s dinner. Not nice for the mate (not mate as in partner but mate as in friend) but fun to watch. Love surprises like that.
Top Billing: the star of the zoo is
But who gets top billing of the day? This Magpie deserves top billing as the star attraction. Say “hi” and he’ll say “hi” back. No word of a lie– click on the links and watch these!
And as if that surprise wasn’t enough we were getting a drink and they were letting some birds go in an afternoon ritual where they get to stretch their wings and go for a fly. Thanks for the special show, we really were special guests.
Along the way I heard a boy say to his Dad, “Can you find someone to carry me?” Couldn’t agree more. That’s what the buses and SkySafari is for though so we had to do one more trip on the SkySafari–this time back down the hill.
You’re either a regular zoo goer or you’re not. I fall into “you’re not” category and loved every minute of it spending the day with the family at the San Diego Zoo. It’ll be one of the days I’ll treasure in our Californian adventure.
Typically when you’re young, keen parents you take the little kids then you may or may not remember to bring them back when they’re older. It’s great when they’re older and you go and appreciate different things. Stop thinking about it and do it–you can’t possibly regret it.
xx It Started in LA xx
PS: It Started in LA & family were guests of the San Diego Zoo. Thanks so much for hosting us. We had such a fun time and would love to do it again. It’s a good idea to buy tickets before you go and here’s a link I prepared especially for you.
PPS: I’ll leave you with this image of Mother Duck heading out with her little ducks. Gorgeous. Surprised, however, by the number of people who thought that meant they could go up to the little ducks and pat them. Lucky the zoo had it all under control with one of the keepers keeping a closing eye on them to make sure that didn’t happen. Good job (as the Americans like to say and that I’m trying to avoid using quite as much as I do).