Summer Adventures 2019: San Diego Zoo Safari Park (AKA The Wild Animal Park)

Map of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Wild Animal Park) for reference throughout this post

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great holiday weekend!

This may seem like a random post to publish, but I want to try out something different for my blog. As summer is coming up, and living in San Diego, there are lots of fun things to do here, as either a tourist or a local. I decided that now would be a good time to not only visit these places, but also document them for this lovely blog. If anything, I’ll look back on these posts for all the fun memories.

Now, let’s get to the main event!

Last Friday, a friend of mine from high school came down to visit, and brought along with a friend of her’s from college. We (My friend, her friend, my boyfriend and I) all wanted to do something fun together, and my lovely mom, who as a member, receives four free guest passes for either the Zoo or the Wild Animal Park, let us use her guest passes so that we could go to the Wild Animal Park (thank you, again). Before I continue, I know that’s not officially called The Wild Animal Park anymore (It’s now the San Diego Zoo Safari Park), but it’s the name I grew up with, so that’s how I’m going to refer to it.

Anyways, the four of us were, for the most part, there the whole day (we arrived around 9:30 am and left around 4:30 pm), and had some awesome animal sight seeing experiences. From seeing baby giraffes that are only a few weeks old, to watching the cheetah run that they hold at the park every afternoon, it was fun all around.


The first thing we did when we got to there was head straight for the tram. Especially during the busiest times for the park (weekends and holidays) the tram gets packed really quickly, so it’s always best to head there first. During this tram ride, we got to see three baby giraffes. Two  of these giraffes were adjusting to life in the enclosure after being kept in a safe area for a couple months after their birth, as the San Diego weather has been a lot colder and rainier the past few months, and not the climate that the giraffes are used to acclimating to. The other baby giraffe, along with its mother, was spending its second day in the enclosure after being born a few weeks earlier. We also saw only one white rhino hiding in the shade, some vultures, and various species of deer and sheep.

After we exited the tram, we headed over to the elephants, which are one of my favorite animals to see, as they’re always so active whenever I see them. During this visit, there was a baby elephant rolling around and playing in the shade, as it was starting to get a little warm. Apparently, the zookeepers aren’t filling the elephant’s pool until the baby elephant learns to swim, as they want to make sure that it is able to swim as the pool itself is very deep. Another fun fact is that their enclosure is going to get remodeled in the near future, and the theater area next to their enclosure is going to be taken down and used to expand the elephants home even more.

After seeing the elephants, we decided to head up to Tiger Trail, where they were holding an event they called The Tiger Talk. One zookeeper talks about the Sumatran Tiger’s at the park, and their conservation efforts for them, while the other zookeeper basically places food for the tiger around the enclosure so that visitors can get a close up view of it. They have a few tigers there, and the tiger who we got to see during the talk was eight year old Joanne. The photos below are courtesy of my friend and my boyfriend, as all the photos that I ended up taking were dark due to the lighting.

After the Tiger talk, we had lunch, and then went to the new exhibit, Walkabout Australia. At this point, the exhibit houses red necked wallabies, western gray kangaroos, southern cassowaries, matschies tree kangaroos, magpie geese and various plants from Australia. There is an enclosure ready for more kangaroos, but it isn’t occupied at this point. One part that’s really cool is a grassy section where you walk along and get closer to the wallabies and kangaroos. As this section isn’t a petting zoo, you aren’t allowed to pet the animals or stray off the designated walkway, and the animals always have the right of way when they’re crossing over the path. One of my favorite things about Walkabout Australia is the Bonsai Pavillion, which is a bonsai tree garden that has a calm, peaceful vibe (especially at a place that can be quite crowded).

After going through Walkabout Australia, we ventured through Condor Ridge, where we learned about how condors help get rid of diseases (except West Nile) when they eat animal carcasses, because of the how they digest their food. We also got to hold a condor feather, and flap it about to demonstrate the heaviness and resistance of the feather. One of my favorite parts about visiting the Wild Animal Park, is how passionate and interactive everyone who works there when it comes to talking about the animals, whether they’re a zookeeper or a volunteer. They always have interesting anecdotes and facts that adds a little something more to each exhibit.

After we left Condor ridge, we wandered around, until ending up at the Gorilla Forest. The gorillas had just eaten and were getting ready to take an afternoon nap. In fact, one gorilla grabbed a mat and was dragging it across the enclosure into the shade to lay down on. Then as we read through the bio cards that they have posted for each gorilla, I found one gorilla that shares my birthday (although it was born in 2011, so its quite a few years younger than I am). We also found a few gorillas that had been born in the 70’s and 80’s (I don’t know why I didn’t notice that before), and could be identified by the silver hair on their backs.

Once we saw the gorillas, we got ice cream, as it’s always a tradition for me, whether I’m at the Wild Animal Park or the Zoo, to get soft serve ice cream. I don’t know why, but the soft serve there always tastes delicious (maybe because it gets hot after a long day there). They also have other treats, including a pineapple float (similar to a rootbeer float, that my friend’s friend ordered) made with pineapple soft serve and Sprite, served in an actual pineapple.

When we finished eating our food, we went back towards the tram to go watch the Cheetah Run. The Cheetah run is held every afternoon at 3:30 pm, and not only do we watch how fast an actual cheetah runs (once or twice, depending on how the cheetah is feeling that day) but, we also learn more about cheetahs and their conservation efforts, as the cheetah population has been in heavy decline over the past one hundred years, to the point where extinction is becoming more of a reality each day. For example, in Kenya cheetahs are an issue for farmers because they’ll come after the livestock for their food, which lead to cheetahs being shot and killed to protect the livestock. Then, a program was introduced where farmers are provided free dogs to bark at the cheetahs and chase them off, and help reduce the number of cheetahs being killed for that reason. Since cheetahs are built to run as fast as they do, they lack the muscle build to be strong and actually fight with other animals, so their flight or fight response is to run away. The Wild Animal Park has also been assisting in efforts to identify the other reasons why cheetahs have been dying out so rapidly.

20190330_132647-e1559078688335.jpgOnce the cheetah run was over, we wandered through the African Outpost and The African Loop, and make our way back to the entrance to leave. On our way out, we went through another one of my favorite parts of the Wild Animal Park, the Lemur Walk. The Lemur Walk is an enclosure where you can walk through and see the lemurs up close and personal (This time we saw three of them).


Besides that, I think that’s all I have for today!

Thank you for reading, and I will see you on Friday with another post!

Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof



Published by enordhof

Hello! I love writing about a variety of topics, such as books and music, and have my own blog, I also do freelance work, which you can see more of on my portfolio website,

5 thoughts on “Summer Adventures 2019: San Diego Zoo Safari Park (AKA The Wild Animal Park)

      1. I’ve been to San Diego once… with the cheapest small town people on earth……


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