San Diego Zoo

On Thursday we went to San Diego Zoo. Glen finished up at the conference around lunchtime and we caught an Uber car to the zoo. I’ve never used Uber before but the hotel has a promotion running whereby you get $20 off your first ride and considering a taxi would cost about $25 I thought we’d give it a go.

I set it up on my phone, ordered the car and we waited out the front. Glen was incredibly unsettled by the whole experience because he didn’t know how it all worked and I had very few answers for him other than that I’d called for a car, it was on its way, and somehow it would get paid for.

Our drive was from Zimbabwe and had been living in San Diego for 14 years. For some reason because this wasn’t a typical taxi ride, I felt much more inclined to talk to the driver than I would otherwise. The guy liked to talk so it was easy and plus we got to hear about the political situation in Zimbabwe.

We arrived at the zoo a little after 12. I’d arranged to meet Seth, a horticulturist who worked there and had been on exchange to Perth Zoo, at 12:30 and he soon arrived to greet us. We then went on a guided tour around much of the zoo, getting a horticultural perspective on a lot of things, which was interesting.

As Seth had been to Australia and brought back a number of cuttings and seeds, including some from our zoo, he showed us a variety of them and how they fared. Being such a similar climate (and today was something like 32°C), it was a bit like being at home.

We also got to meet a few of the staff and have a chat to them, as well as seeing their signage/printing workshop. I was very envious of this as they print their signs and maps in house and create custom-made intricate signage as well. Very cool, but it makes sense for a zoo this size and with its money.

We went for a ride on the sky gondolas before he had to head back to work. It was great to see him and talk shop for a while, and to have him spend the time with us.

Glen and I then had a bite to eat before trekking back across the zoo to find the baby hippo. Julian had let us know that a hippo had been born at the zoo recently so we were excited to see that. We eventually got to where we needed to be (the zoo is even more maze-like than ours) and found the crowd of people trying to see it. We got glimpses. It’s very cute, especially as it tried to keep its head above water.

We saw other animals along the way there and back, but having seen quite a few species, there weren’t too many ‘must-sees’ for us. We even gave the giant pandas a miss. The Zoo does a good job with its theming, the plants being a major part of this, but also the signage, the flooring, the sculptures and more. The zoning is a little different to what I’m used to or expect.

For example, the Elephant Odyssey section does indeed have elephants but the theme for it is Southern California 12,000 Years Ago, and includes life-size sculptures of extinct species that used to live in the area and then live exhibits of their modern equivalent. One example of this is the elephants versus the mammoths. It’s certainly a different way of doing it.

Around 3:30, we’d decided we’d had our fill, and our skin was already going bright pink (we didn’t have sunscreen and we were wearing singlets/tanktops…yes, bad Australians). I ordered us another Uber and a San Diego native picked us up and got us home pretty quick, all for just $12. Bargain!

After returning to the hotel, I went for a walk along the beach, while Glen had a nap. Lots of people were out soaking up the sunshine but there weren’t many people actually swimming. It was too damn cold. My feet went numb just walking along the shoreline. It was a pleasant walk though.

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