109 in Escondido

The number one attraction on our to-do list in San Diego was the Safari Park.  I had been there about 20 years ago, but as is typical of my travels, I didn’t get a long tour – just the back of a truck to feed giraffes.  While this was a fabulous experience, I had always hoped to get back for a thorough visit.

It was a 40-minute transfer up to Escondido and we had our ride scheduled so we would get there right at opening as the website had said that it was “first come, first served”.  We didn’t need to worry – the pandemic has definitely changed people’s leisure habits – it wasn’t crowded.  In fact, as the day wore on, there were fewer and fewer visitors.

The park is like a zoo, except fewer animals with larger habitats, separated into different areas: Gorilla Forest, Condor Ridge, Elephant Valley, Tiger Trail, etc.  Due to covid-19, all the various tours by safari van and truck were cancelled, so we were faced with getting through the whole park in one day.

We started with the Tiger Trail and that’s where we met the first of the volunteers stationed around the park to answer questions.  These are my favorite people; it’s always fun to ask questions and chat about the animals and the park.  The tiger in the photo is Rakan, a two-year old Sumatran tiger.  He came to the safari park when he was five-months old from the Smithsonian Zoo, after his mother aggressively rejected him.  For the entire time we stood and talked to the volunteer, Rakan laid majestically behind very thick glass, as if it was his turn for the photo op.  YA snapped this great photo.

As the day wore on, YA started to complain about the heat.  I was quite hot as well, but I thought it was probably just all the walking around.  I had looked at the San Diego forecast that morning – high of 85.  Well, turns out that when you drive 45 minutes north of San Diego, towards the mountains and desert, the high is a bit higher.  In fact, at 2 p.m., the temperature was registering at 109.  Yikes.  And the safari park is NOT built on a flat land.  I know that for every up we had a down, but by the afternoon, it felt like all we did was climb up!  We went through a lot of diet pop and water but powered through; who knows if either of us will ever get back to the park.  The other areas we really enjoyed were Condor Ridge, Elephant Valley and Gorilla Forest.  I suppose it’s not a surprise that there were great volunteers at all those locations.

It was a great day and I don’t think either of us have ever appreciated how cool 85 degrees feels after you’ve walked all over a safari park in over 100!

What animal do you like to visit at the zoo?

29 thoughts on “109 in Escondido”

  1. I grew up enjoying visits to a zoo but having been on safari or game drives in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Tanzania it is very hard to enjoy any animal caged up, even if the habitat is large and similar to their normal environment. There is nothing like seeing a large herd of elephants, wildebeest, giraffes, impalas, zebra, lions, etc. roaming free in their natural habitat (and with their natural predators). I am aware that for a number of endangered species, zoos are their last and best chance for survival. Places like the Safari Park do a good job of providing animals with an environment close to their natural surroundings. But I just can’t enjoy these places like I used to.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. One of the things that I didn’t know before I went to the safari park is that they are one of the places that has been most successful in raising and releasing the California condor. So you are correct that zoos are places that are helping some species to survive.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, and I meant to say that you are right—seeing giraffes and elephants and lions on safari in Africa is such an experience that I can’t even compare it to anything else.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. K-Two, it might help you to think of zoos as tools–transitional devices–to help youngsters engage with animals. Kids love zoos, and zoos help kids care about critters. In that context, it is normal to like zoos when you are young but then later understand how limited and artificial zoos are. I think it is better to take a kid to a zoo than to never expose them to fascinating living things. The animals in zoos don’t enjoy natural lives, and yet their lives aren’t really bad now that zoo keepers have improved their work and improved most zoos.

      As someone who is passionate about the natural world, one of the things that scares me most is the prospect of generations of kids growing up with no contact whatever with the natural world and its critters.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I am not against zoos – you are correct about their usefulness for engaging with youngsters as well as for assisting in the survival of endangered species. But due to my experiences with animals in their natural surroundings, it is hard for me to see them in a zoo no matter how improved they are now compared to when I was a youth.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, I agree. The wild life is the natural life, the way animals should be allowed to live. I’m probably more political than you. I see zoo animals as ambassadors who live artificial lives that help people care about animals in general. Those artificial lives serve a greater purpose.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I was going to say; daughter loves to watch them swim and play.

      The Panda’s at the National Zoo in DC are fun to see — if you get to see them. They don’t always do much, but, it’s just neat to be able to see them.

      The side story that I remember about the zoo was taking a taxi to the zoo, but it turned out to only by about 1/2 mile from the hotel. So then at the end of the day, after walking all over and wearing ourselves out, we decided we could walk back to the hotel. Except I couldn’t even get out of the park. Walked all the way to the end of a parking lot only to discover we couldn’t get out that way. And were now further away from the hotel than we were to start. Called a Lyft back to the hotel from there.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. As a kid I loved zoos, now I’m ambivalent about them. I also recognize that if if weren’t for zoos, I would have never seen an elephant, giraffe, lion, tiger or primate of any kind. I understand K-Two’s perspective, and can also clearly see the validity of Steve’s.

    I appreciate that zoos have improved tremendously in the last forty to fifty years or so in terms of habitat and care for the animals, but obviously, any wild animal kept in such a confine is restricted in ways they wouldn’t be if they lived in the wild. I also recognize that at this stage of the game, zoos play a vital role in staving off extinction of some species.

    For me, it’s a tossup between the sea lions and the orangutans as to which are my favorites. If I had grand kids, I know I’d take them to the zoo. Hell, as it is, I go there occasionally by myself. The Como Zoo has come a very long way since I first discovered it in 1973, and I think it is a treasure. The Minnesota Zoo is magnificent, as far as zoos go, but I rarely go there.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My favorite zoo animal is the orangutan. They are known in zoo circles as the best escape artists. When they escape, they don’t go far, almost as if the escape is an amusing trick they enjoy. To my mind, orangutans have figured out they are captives but have adapted nicely to it.

    A friend watching an orangutan recently saw that she had got her hands on a nail and a small patch of cloth. She must have observed a zoo visitor sewing, for she passed the nail repeatedly through the cloth, simulating the action of sewing. When human keepers entered her space, she casually hid her precious nail in a tiny crack, obviously concerned the nail would be confiscated if the keepers saw it. When they left, she brought the nail back and resumed sewing. Orangutans are cool.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. VS – there are several safari moments that were favorites. The best one was watching two lion couples mating by the side of the road. We watched them for about a half hour. After each coupling was over, the males would walk a short distance away and then just collapse on their sides. We were supposed to be very quiet, but the first time we saw this behavior, we literally roared with laughter. At Chobe National Park in Botswana, we saw a lioness with her twin cubs. At that time there were only 18 lions in the park and none had been spotted for over three months. It was pretty special. We were in the Serengeti at the start of the Wildebeest migration. Our safari vehicle was practically surrounded by these marvelous creatures. In Amboseli National Park in Kenya our safari vehicle was stopped for about 20 minutes while a large group of elephants (mostly moms and babies) crossed the road with Mt Kilimanjaro in the background. I could go on and on and on……….

    Liked by 5 people

  5. The friend who saw the orangutan pretending to sew also got palsy with a gang of giraffes. That was a surprise. Giraffes, it seems, have way more personality than wildlife documentaries show us. One of the giraffes she got to know was a prankster who liked getting behind her and bumping her with its nose. when she wasn’t expecting it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I can’t remember the last time we went to a zoo, but we used to go often to Como.

    We are animal people, and are really missing that aspect of the State Fair. That’s where we spend the majority of our time there.

    I could really use a solid 15 minutes watching the fish (a screen will not do).

    Liked by 1 person

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