San Diego Wild Animal Park

Trip Report 20080212

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Owl being displayed by handler.

The Experience

One of the things that Kathleen and I have not done with any frequency is to do the "tourist thing" in our own town. San Diego has some world class tourist attractions (in addition to the beach) including the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park. After returning to town, we vowed to visit these attractions and take advantage of living in "America's Finest City".

The Wild Animal Park is north of San Diego, to the east of a city called Escondido. The park has been there for many years and has a great collection of wild animals, mostly from Africa. The hallmark of the park is that most of the animals live in open enclosures that mimic their native habitat.

The photos below are what we saw.

A rather colorful bird. Sadly, I did not note what species.

One of the meerkats took the post position with the best view of the crowd. He held this position for many minutes.

One of the many pink flamingoes.

This is one very odd kind of pig.

The park has a captive balloon that they use to provide views of the park. For an extra fee, you can ride in the basket. This is a big balloon and can hold perhaps 30 folks.

This is the base station for the balloon. The tether cable is passed through the circular fairlead and then runs to a big winch.

Normally when I think of vultures, I think of the 2-legged kind with suits and briefcases, but this fellow is much worse than any of them. Note the vicious beak and talons.

I have no idea what kind of animal this is, but its neck is very long and slender. Note the notches in his ears.

This bird is brilliant white which looks pretty interesting against a dark blue pond.

This bird was so odd he merited 2 shots. This is a horn-billed something-or-other, I did not note the name. The structure on his head looks like a bazooka.

This male must know that it is approaching Valentine's Day. Like every other male in the U.S., he is bringing his mate a gift only this dab of mud is a *bit* cheaper than the gifts that we will buy.

This is the better-looking end of the wart hog. He would not turn around, so I assume it was his own method of protest. Look at the tusks on this fellow.

There were a number of kinds of waterfowl in the ponds at the Park. I found the patterns in these feathers interesting.

This fellow had nice green patterns on his head.

The park has a substantial population of flamingoes.

This cheetah was on the prowl. The guides stated that there were three females in the group and that they were sisters born and raised at the Park.

The Park has a big pride of lions; one male, 2 females and a set of new cubs only 13 weeks old. Here, Leo baby sits several of the cubs.

One of the females spotted something interesting, likely one of the visitors. They are both delicious and nutritious.

Junior keeps a close eye on the visitors watching him.

Something caught the cub's attention as they came running. Here they scour the rock ledge.

Mom keeps tabs on the cubs.

Ouch!! Leo is getting bitten on the back by several of the cubs.

Life is good as a lioness at the Park. Note the tongue sticking out.

We decided to take the tram ride around the perimeter of the large enclosure. After boarding the tram, the sprinklers came on and doused the cheetahs. Since it was hot, they did not mind the mist. In the shot above, the mist can be seen obscuring the cheetah.

The park has a number of giraffes and at least one is pregnant. That cow is sequestered until she delivers, thus increasing the chance of survival of the calf.

This fellow has long, sharp horns and watched us carefully as the tram went by.

This rhino is more like a tank with hooves.

This is the most dangerous animal in the enclosure -- the Cape Buffalo. To paraphrase the guide, "...when you are slow and stupid, you have to make up for it by being mean and aggressive...".

Note the "war mask" on this fellow.

The guide claimed that this kind of cow was one of the first animals domesticated. I can only imagine how the first one was caught. This fellow was big and with a set of horns like that, they can pretty much do whatever they please.

Look at the rack on that center male!! Those are about 9 feet across.

Another tank with hooves. This fellow is catching 90 winks in the warm sun and did not move when the tram came by.

Leo had his fill of being bitten by the cubs, so he retired to the peace and comfort of the roof of a Land Rover that was placed in his enclosure. He was high enough that the cubs could not get to him.

The Wild Animal Park is a one-of-a-kind place. Their facilities are world renowned and their breeding program is one of the best on the planet. Should your travels bring you to San Diego, this must be on your "things to do list".

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