Every major city has a zoo, but they’re pretty much a dime a dozen, so I typically don’t bother with them. The San Diego Zoo, however, is in a class by itself. It’s widely regarded as one of the best zoos in the country, if not the world.
The zoo is huge, with aerial trams and shuttle buses available to move visitors around. Give yourself plenty of time. I ended up spending more than four hours walking around the place and catching glimpses of some of my favorite animals, and I still didn’t see everything.
The San Diego Zoo is known for being one of only four zoos in America that houses giant pandas. These endangered animals are notoriously hard to breed in captivity, but San Diego has had more success mating pandas than any other U.S. zoo.
Unlike some of the other animals, the pandas were very active. The little panda did a lot of running around.
Here’s my favorite animal in the world: The komodo dragon! This is one of the few creatures in the world that will sometimes eat humans if given the opportunity. They eat the entire body, bones and all, leaving no trace of life. I love their ruthless, no-nonsense attitude.
The cute and cuddly koalas. Mitch Hedberg has a koala joke: “My apartment is infested with koala bears. It’s the cutest infestation ever. Way better than cockroaches. When I turn on the lights, a bunch of koala bears scatter. And I don’t want them to. I’m like, ‘Hey, hold on, fellas! Lemme hold one of you. And feed you a leaf.'”
Something draws me to the South American capybara, the largest rodent in the world. Look at those adorable flat noses.
Speaking of flat noses, I present to you the bearded pigs.
The living desert of Madagascar provided some visual context for the environment that some of these animals are living in.
Bears! Black ones and brown ones.
Flamingos. Lots and lots of pink flamingos.
The kids especially enjoyed the primates.
It was in the upper 50s and raining the day I visited. Poor monkey… someone get her a jacket!
Who doesn’t love the giraffes?
Back to the unusual animals. This small African antelope is called a klipspringer. The sign indicated that these guys can jump ten feet in the air from a dead standstill. They jump across boulders and ledges to escape their many predators. They also mate for life, making them perhaps the most monogamous mammals in the world.
They’re really cute too. I want a pet klipspringer.
The guanaco is similar to a llama. Go ahead and chew that grass with your freaky jaw!
Say hello to the zebras.
The peacock shows off his plumage.
Back to the big boys. The polar bears in the San Diego Zoo are smaller than most polar bears, but they’re still pretty massive.
The rhino was the one animal I felt bad for. They didn’t seem to have much room to roam. Two of them shared this tiny pool of water.
The hippo had significantly more water in his tank. He liked rubbing up against the windows where the tourists stood to watch.
Thanks to Fergie, I cannot see camels without hearing “My Humps” in my head. Look at those lovely lady lumps.
The elephants kicked up dust on themselves.
I always get excited for tigers in zoos, but they never seem to be doing anything but sleeping. Lazy cats!
What’s your favorite zoo animal?