It's been years since T and I have been here. In looking at the cost of tickets, it made more sense for us to get an annual pass, and there's even a discount if you're renewing an old membership. Let's see, I think our last membership was back in 2006... I called them up, they were able to find it in their system, and I was able to renew right over the phone! Sweet!
We checked out of the hotel, picked up Jacob, and made our way to the zoo! Along the way, we told Ian that today we were going to see...
The zoo doesn't open until 9am, but people were allowed to enter the park and wait for the rope to drop.
The kids and I found a photo opportunity that we could enjoy.
Ian found a really interesting feather on the ground.
And tickled the lion's nose.
At 9am, a flock of macaws were released and the ropes were dropped. For the rest of the day, Ian kept going on about how the birds flew to their home.
Where should we go? Tour guide Ian will lead us!
Let's start with the bus tour! It's a pretty good way to get around the park and see a lot of animals quickly. Plus it's a guided tour so we'll learn a little bit about the animals too. Some levels of membership have this tour included, and even some daily tickets include it. Those that don't can expect to pay $13 per person for this 35 minute tour.
It starts first with a video documenting the history of the zoo, and showing some of the things the zoo is doing today to promote conservation.
Alli doing her pointing thing again. This time at the giraffes on the screen.
While the bottom level of this double decker bus is shaded, it's also not as easy to see the animals. The top is exposed to the hot sun, but earlier in the day it's not so bad.
Ooh. The tigers are out. I hope we get to see them a little closer when we come back by here later.
Alli climbing on top of Ian to get a good look at the next animal.
It's a polar bear! They were enjoying a swim in their chilled pool.
Getting a good look at the elephants.
And a pair of California Condors.
It's pretty tough to get a shot of an animal that sleeps 22 hours a day.
Before the tour, each group posed for a photo. After the tour was over, I was surprised to see that our photos were printed and waiting for us to purchase. $30 seemed a little expensive for a group photo, and it was really odd to me that they'd print them all out. It felt pretty wasteful they'd print out all those on the hopes of a purchase. Why not go digital?
After the bus ride, we were thirsty. Looking around of course Ian spotted a booth that sold blue Icees. "Please may I have a blue Icee?" $7.49! Yikes! And sodas aren't much cheaper. $5.29 per cup, though you can get refills for 99 cents.
However, there was also an option for a souvenir cup for $10.99 that comes with free soft drink refills. After getting our fill of soda, T found out that you could get Icee refills for $3.50. Sweet! I believe for the day, we got 8 soda refills and 4 Icee refills.
Time to explore the rest of the zoo on foot.
One thing they mentioned during the bus tour was the opportunity to feed the giraffes. I've never done it before (that I can remember, maybe when I was little) and wanted Ian to experience it. There is a booth that sells tickets that opens at 11am, so we made our way there. While Jacob held the place in line, the four of us went to talk to a volunteer to learn a little more about the giraffes.
Volunteer Mary asked Ian if he knew how long a giraffe's tongue can get. She said that there's about 1 inch of tongue for every foot a giraffe is tall. Some of these giraffes are 18 feet tall, which means their tongues are 18" long! That's longer than your arm Ian!
Now what about the color or a giraffe's tongue? Their tongue is purple, hey, like your tongue Ian after drinking that Icee!
Mary also showed us a rhino horn and porcupine quills. Thanks! That was fun to touch all that stuff.
Time to get back in line. It's almost 11am. Ian was excited and so was I. Tickets to feed the giraffes are $10 for three small biscuits, and we were told that they only sell 100 tickets per day. With many groups in front of us buy anywhere from 2-4 tickets, I wasn't sure how long they were going to last. Later we saw they were still selling tickets at 12:45, so they must really not be that busy today.
Our tickets told us to come back between 12-1 to feed them. Let's go explore the rest of the zoo.
This grizzly bear must have been pretty tired. He only had his foot sticking out into the sun.
Alli, what do you see?
It's a fuzzy panda!
This zoo has plenty of steep hills. The kids got a free ride in the stroller, while I pushed them up hills so steep that it's recommended that ECVs find a different path.
It was fun seeing the zebra, leopards, reindeer, arctic fox, monkeys, and more.
The lion sleeps tonight.
We arrived back to feed the giraffes at 12:45 and there was quite a line in front of us.
At 1:05 it was finally our turn to feed them. The keeper told us to enjoy it and take our time, and we certainly did that. Ian was the brave one and was the very first to feed one. The extra long tongue slimed his hand pretty good.
That thing is enormous!
Looking at mommy and wiping his hand on his shirt.
Ha. I love how Ian has to stick out his tongue too. This next giraffe barely stuck out his tongue, but Ian still ended up slimed.
Daddy's turn. If you don't get your hand in the giraffe's mouth, can you really even say you've had a giraffe encounter?
Of course Mommy would pick the one that barely sticks its tongue out. Alli didn't seem phased.
In the end, we had about 2 minutes with just our group feeding the giraffes. That plus 4 people actually feeding them, I say that was $20 well spent.
Making our way to the front of the park, we caught the tail end of a bird show. Ian was impressed. "The bird can talk?"
Time to get a closer look at the tigers. And as luck would have it, they're taking naps right in front of a viewing window! Alli looks appropriately concerns and resisted any of my attempts to get her closer to the glass.
Cool to see them so close today.
Hills don't bother this little boy. He doesn't want to be contained in the stroller. He wants to run!
Theresa remarked "Ian you have so much energy!" He replied "I took your energy?" Ha. Probably in some ways, yes.
A turtle poses over a very still pond.
While Ian sees another turtle swimming against the aquarium glass.
Let's go to the petting zoo! Both kids really enjoyed the goats.
Alli started leaning down towards it. I wasn't sure what she was up to and was surprised when she gave it a kiss on top of it's head. We read picture books with her, and there are some animals (like doggies and kitties) that she'll lean forward and kiss the book. Didn't think she'd do it to a real animal though.
And this whole time I'm just thinking "we need to get Alli some shoes". I'm holding her a few inches above the ground so her feet don't touch.
It was so rare that we'd get to pet a sheep back at Big Thunder Ranch at Disneyland.
There's one last thing we have to do! Come on!
It's the sky buckets! Free for just about everyone, there isn't even a manned ticket booth for these anymore. I think it's just the "education/study" tickets that need to pay for this ride.
There is a strict limit of 4 people per bucket though, including infants, so we had to split up the group. It's also a little too small for strollers, so this is going to be a round trip for us.
Aww. Alli giving my nose kisses.
Hey! Where has that mouth been. Didn't you just kiss a goat?
Once we got to the other side we had to get out and wait in line again. Good thing it was only a couple minutes.
I would have loved to spend more time here, but we've got at least a 2 hour drive ahead of us to get back home.
We spent about 6 hours here and I feel like we could have spent a lot more time. We didn't get to watch any of the shows, and there were whole sections, like the reptile house and a few aviaries, that we skipped completely. Good thing we have an annual pass now and can come back again!
It was a great weekend in San Diego! See you again soon!
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