San Diego Wild Animal Park

  A yearly trek to a local icon

Trip Report 20160210

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The Experience

The San Diego Zoo if famous the world over for its facilities.  Many years ago, the downtown zoo expanded its facilities to include the Wild Animal Park (WAP) (recently re-branded to "Safari Park" but old names die hard).  Our zoo membership was up for renewal, so we decided to check out the Animal Park again and see what is new.

These photos were taken with a Sony A7RM2 body and a 24-240mm zoom lens.  I did notice that on some of the shots, the lens did not achieve "critical focus".  My conclusion is that the very-high pixel count of the camera body exposes any optical flaws in lenses.  How I am going to address this is "unclear" at this time, pun intended.

The photos below are what we saw.

We spotted this colorful macaw near the entrance.

A big group of Flamingos work the mud of the aviary looking for insects.

Number 28 is cleaning up after a mud bath.

This type of duck shares space with the Flamingos.

Next to the aviary was the Meerkat nest.

We hiked over to the gorilla enclosure and saw some lazy animals sleeping it off.

The largest silver-back in the ape enclosure.

One of the smaller apes.

Side profile of the large Silverback gorilla.

A very strange African Bush Pig surprised us by bolting from a structure and across one of the amphitheaters.

The pig does tricks for treats.

It likely took awhile to train this pig.

This is one funky beast.

The WAP has "commercialized" and now offers rides and attractions that are not part of the regular price.  This tethered balloon is available for $15 per person.  The cable underneath is the tether and is connected to a winch assembly built into the deck that pulls the balloon back to earth.

The WAP has a big footprint, many hundreds of acres are within the park's boundaries.  There are a number of ponds as well as grasslands.

The rhinos were on lunch break.  Note the baby at right-center of the photo above.

There were a significant number of giraffes at the park.  The keepers attach fresh greenery to tall poles to keep the giraffes happy.

Interestingly, despite the fact that the lushest leaves are at the bottom, they all eat from the top down.  I am guessing that it is easier for them to reach up than to reach down.

The giraffes are superbly adapted to eating arboreal vegetation.

The cape buffalo is a tough customer and one of the most feared animals in Africa.

There were lots of horned "plains game" wandering around the grasslands.

I believe these are oryx.

The markings on the face are called a "war mask".


Those horns are vicious weapons.  Their water trough has been designed to look like a hollowed-out tree.

Ah, yes.  Springtime at the zoo.  The WAP's breeding program is considered one of the best in the world and they "export" young animals of all breeds to other zoos.

We went past the elephant enclosure and there were 8 or so pachyderms running around.  Mid-day snacks are hay pellets delivered in boxes that have a small hole in one corner.  The elephants have to work at getting the pellets out through the holes to be able to eat.  Each elephant had their own approach to the problem.  Note the box at the feet of the baby elephant at the right of the photo above.

This female came over to give us the sniff test.  The perimeter wire is electrified so she gave it plenty of clearance.

One of the smaller members of the herd heads for a snack box.

The snack boxes get worked over until they don't rattle any more.  The bulk of their diet is regular hay.

An interesting bird resting on a log.

This deer-like creature is as small as a dog and is called a dik-dik.

There have been some improvements at the WAP, but generally these "improvements" are things like additional rides, the zip lines and other non-zoo features.  But, it is impossible to escape commercialism doing such endeavors so you have to set you expectations accordingly.  The WAP is a great place and very well done and surely one of the jewels of the San Diego area.  If you are in the area and have the time, you should plan to see both the downtown zoo and the WAP.

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