San Diego has a rich and varied history, though its origins are best left for wiser heads to contemplate. Though there is much to do here, there is only one standout that has brought me all the way here: the San Diego Zoo. Now, you may ask, haven’t I already been to a zoo? Yes, but I wanted to see some pandas. But haven’t I already seen some pandas? Yes, but I want to see *all* the pandas.
There are various arguments as to whether zoos are ethical in principal (even though the “first” zoo, the London Zoological Gardens heavily focused on the research side, rather than the keeping-the-animals-and-punters-happy side). San Diego Zoo, for its part, also operates a Safari Park with open, more “natural” spaces, and the animals from the zoo are often swapped with those in the Safari Park to allow them space to roam. There’s also the argument to be made that these animals, due to the encroaching behaviour of man, might be unable to survive in the world.
Ahem. Well. It’s interesting, actually, how your perceptions of an animal can change based on seeing them in a new light. For instance:
In spite of suddenly becoming terrifying, they remain very impressive beasties: the lady feeding them little treats point out that, though the front hooves are resting on her, they are not exerting pressure, so much as providing a bit of stability. Which means all of the animal’s weight is on:
Okay, fair warning, most of post is just adorable animals, but that does comprise about 96% of the Internet (displacing all our sad, neglected porn). So here’s:
Now when I was visiting, there had recently been a wittle baby panda born, but baby panda and mum panda weren’t out and about when I was visiting. But we did get to see this – if I may – absolute playa.
Although he’s shrimpy (by panda standards), he has managed to rack up quite a number of conquests and subsequent baby pandas. But he doesn’t let success go to his head, he just sits around getting high on bamboo.
By the way, I’d like to say that whatever you may feel, I’m being very reserved with the panda pictures. There are 102 pictures of red pandas that I didn’t post. Instead, we trek on from the panda zone:
Now the next pairing is a little unusual. In the same enclosure are two critters: one is Bakka, a South African cheetah, and the other is Miley, a husky-mix domestic dog.
Okay, not so much fighting crime, but rather that the dogs help the cheetahs get comfortable in the zoo and form close bonds. The zoo believes that it’s the dog’s calming influence that has helped their cheetah breeding program be so successful. Yes, I am suggesting “dog pimp”. Elsewhere, see if you can spot the leopard:
(No really, I don’t know where the bubbles came from)
There is only one thing I regret about spending all of my San Diego time at the zoo: the zoo has a gondola lift that carries you the length of the zoo. As you take in the skyline, you spot this building:
This is the Museum of Man and they have an exhibit all about beer. I regret a little. But you know what makes up for it?
Y’see, there’s a red panda in the hollow of that tree and his pal comes bundling down the branch and plonks his foot down on him as he goes past (leading to that red panda image of the two of them above). Yeah, San Diego Zoo is worth it. Plus, that gondola lift thing is pretty neat in and of itself:
Next time: we’re getting a bit more into the heart of California, hitting up apocalyptic bookstores in Los Angeles, encountering musical roads and trying to make it in Hollywood.