Fun & Weird

Visiting the San Diego Zoo: Bad Hippo Luck

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One thing to know about me & Jeanne is that we love looking at animals – SeaWorld, zoos, we’re excited. So it’s no surprise that we chose to spend our one afternoon in San Diego at their zoo.

I’d done a lot of research beforehand about the best available discounts. In the end, it turned out to be $4, either booking through Kijubi or using our AAA membership to get 10% off the $42 adult one day pass admission fee at the gate. In case our flight was delayed, etc, we decided to go with the AAA membership at the gate.

I’d been to the zoo once before and suggested we take the free 35 min guided bus tour first so we could scope out what areas we wanted to spend the most time visiting. It was a great bus ride, all the animals were unusually active and we briefly saw the hippo playing in his pool, cheetah cubs playing, camels enjoying a cool spray from a hose and more.

After the ride, we decided to visit the giraffes first, which was also the first stop of the express bus to take us further into the park. The giraffes were awesome – a nerdy elder who favored Bill from Freaks & Geeks – and some adorable baby giraffes, one only a month old.

After getting our fill of spotted cuteness, we got on the express bus to take me us to see the hippo, which was the sole focus of my attention. The last time I’d been there, he’d just lain sleeping in the sun all three times I went by. This time, having seen him playing not an hour earlier, I had hope! Alas, he was in his pool sleeping, his rump turned to the world.

Devastated I sulked my way up to the zebra exhibit with Jeanne where we tried to figure out what kind of zebra she was.

We continued up the hill (if walking, we recommend starting in the opposite direction from what we did) checking out all the shiny antelopes, the polar bears (sleeping), and entered the new elephant exhibit.

They had a cool tarp pit exhibit like La Brea, but having seen La Brea, I hustled Jeanne to the cheetahs to see if they were still playing. From the bus we’d seen the mother going for a meaty bone they’d placed in the water and the two cubs trying to get at it without getting wet. Very cute! This time they were lounging in the corner nearest the crowd, the mom chowing down on the bone and the adorable cubs chowing down on anything that crossed their line of sight.

From there we wandered to the elephants. They have a lengthy enclosure that encompasses an acre, so we were lucky they were hanging out at the far end near us, because at this point it was late in the day and we were tired and a little hot. After getting our pachyderm fill, we headed back the way we came to catch the SkyTram which came free with our ticket.

The SkyTram offers a beautiful view of the zoo and the surrounding area, as well as a cool breeze. If you’re going in the morning, the lines will be shorter on the far end of the park. If going in the afternoon, like we did, better to catch it at the front of the park for a shorter line since most people have already made their way to the back.

San Diego is definitely one of my favorite zoos – it’s huge, has happy-looking animals, and lots of transportation options. If only their hippo didn’t hate me…


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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