San Diego Zoo is unquestionably fantastic. With amphibians, birds, insects and spiders, mammals, and reptiles, it’s home to over 3,700 rare and endangered animals representing more than 650 species and subspecies. It’s impossible to choose favorites when there are so many unique animals to see, but we chose our top 5 favorites of the day based on our interaction with them, their cool behavior, and the fond memories we created base on our experiences with them. Do any of our favorites make your top five list?
Number 5: Gorillas
In the very heart of the San Diego Zoo, are western lowland gorillas in a natural landscape of cascading waterfalls, an open meadow, and climbing areas. This majestic looking gorilla appeared tame and pensive. He almost seemed cuddly. Then, showing us his power, he ran along the glass wall. As I watched his massive, muscular arms move much more quickly than I’m capable of moving, I gained a new appreciation for his power and speed. I knew I wouldn’t want to mess with that guy.
Number 4: Pandas
Who can resist the endearing face of a giant panda? These animals are so popular that there was a wait to see them but it was worth it. Such a playful, lovable creature, Athena instantly fell in love. As it chewed on the bamboo and leaves, Athena sang “You brush your teeth, ch ch ch ch, ch ch ch ch,” and mimicked his actions. The other guests were just as entertained by Athena as the pandas. She was the star attraction.
Number 3: Grizzly Bears
The animal personalities were shinning through and the grizzly bear was no exception. He rolled over and around a log like a child playing with a toy. Athena tried to climb inside to play with him and we had to remind her that you can’t pet all animals. Her lack of fear is astounding, encouraging, and frightening all at the same time.
Number 2: Elephants
One of the highlights of our day was hanging out at Elephant Odyssey. Athena loved playing on the rocks next to the elephants and when an elephant sprayed us with water, she let out a boisterous laugh like an adult. I had never heard her laugh so long or so hard. We stayed for an additional 30 minutes with hopes of having a similar experience while Athena talked to the elephants and followed them around. It might have been a highlight in her life.
Number 1: Hippos
I don’t have a particular affinity for hippos. Actually, I think that they are repulsive animals, but our hippo encounter was the funniest situation of the day. We got close to the glass and Athena had an inquisitive look on her face. When I asked her what she was looking at, she said, “Look at the big hippo poopies.” We laughed which only encouraged her more and she spent the rest of the day saying, “Big hippo poopies.” When her Gymboree teacher asked her about her weekend, she said, “I played hippo poopies.” When I asked her what she wanted in the grocery store, she yelled out, “Hippo poopies.” Although it’s rather embarrassing, I have to giggle every time. I don’t know who is more of a child, me or her?