San Diego Zoo Day! Part 1 of 2

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

So as everyone here should now be aware - I love animals! The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park have always been great places of relaxation adventure and knowledge to escape the “real world” recently.


This weekend I decided to visit the newly reopened San Diego Zoo. The zoo has been letting everyone keep tabs on the goings on since Covid-19 started and since we as guests miss the Spring season we knew we had a plethora of cute baby animals!

Now parking at the zoo is in Balboa Park which means - it is free! The downside is the parking lot is for ALL of Balboa Park so you kind of need to arrive earlier then planned so you're able to get a good parking space. The Zoo has its own dedicated area for parking yet some locals know that’s a great way to start a walking path.

Once you arrive you will notice a pop up area taking up the closest section of the parking lot to the zoo entrance which for a Covid-19 Check-in area. You’re asked the standard Covid questions and then are given access to go inside. Masks are required at this destination so make sure you bring yours with you! This park does its best through signage and postings to help people keep the proper 6ft distance but it is smaller then the wild animal park so be prepared for some possible breeches of that spacing.

I am personally part of the Keepers Club (the Zoo's Annual Pass-holder Program) which meant today I got to try a special treat at one of the newest cafés in park. It also meant I got enter through a different entrance than normal visitors - although due to high capacity they seemed to of been standard ticket holders through it as well. Now I'll be honest - there was a decent amount of crowding upon initial entry but most of it is due to shop entrances and to the fact that that is where they have paper maps of the zoo to pick up. The use of the app is highly recommended. Once you clear that bubble it is much more comfortable and socially distant.


So once making it past the map pick-up station and crowds, I headed for the brand new Busy Bee Cafe! This cute little cafe is host to all kinds of locally made honey products from honey sticks, jars and treats! The sweet treats looked so cute in their little bee shapes!

For my lunch I got a Chicken Caesar Salad and a strawberry margarita . The Salad was an 8/10. It was a full Chicken Breast, well seasoned, over a plate of crispy greens and Parmesan cheese, with dressing on the side. I paired this with a Dasani Water and a Strawberry Margarita - because they don't have mimosas for brunch. Margaritas are always a 10/10 for me because alcohol makes life better in moderation.


After lunch it was time to start my trek heading first towards the Reptile House. Between the Safari Park and the Zoo, The Reptile House at the Zoo is the only place in San Diego where you can really see all forms of scaly friends! From Snakes, Iguanas, Geckos and more make this a must see when visiting. In this area there is also a collection of tortoises, one being a Galapagos tortoise who is estimated to be a over 150 years old - isn't that amazing!

We parted ways with our scaly friends which means I was now headed down towards Monkey Canyon - the area teeming all our favorite primates. Before heading down the trail, I saw the most adorable flamingos including our first baby sighting!(check out the video clip below!)

The Monkey Trail includes one of many aviaries at the San Diego Zoo. This aviary is unfortunately not passable if you or your party includes someone in a stroller or who is on wheels but that's OK who wants to ignore the beauty of these birds?

From there it was time to find the next baby on the list: The Hippo! The newest addition to the San Diego hippo family hasn't been named yet (to my knowledge). Mother Mabel was also there. The crowds around didn’t allow for me to take a picture but just know the baby looks like an adorable little boulder. Most people thought mom was a boulder until they saw the baby with her.Well once you hit the end of the hippo experience, you end up with a fork in the road. I decided to investigate an area that used to be occupied by the Panda Bears of China - they were returned in 2019. They still have the adorable snow leopards however to walk through before entering the Panda exhibit. Okay everyone - this may be my favorite area now. The same animals are in the area but the pandas are now the RED PANDAS!!! Do you know how adorable these creatures are!?!?


It was all downhill from there. Not in the bad way - the literal way. The zoo is mostly downhill so be prepared for a workout. This lead me to the lower duck ponds. This area is basically a lagoon and normally a “kangaroo bus” stop. Kangaroo buses are where you can jump off an on a scheduled bus that really helps when you want to avoid those hills. Sadly in the times of Covid, we suck it up and walk. I am so glad I did though. The hill may have kicked my butt but it was worth it. There was so much activity along the side of the trail. This steep hill has some of the zoo’s antelope and deer of the Savannah. I loved watching these animals frolic and play with each other.

This path follows steeply towards the North Pole and the polar bear experience. The polar bear was enjoying a wonderful scratch by rolling in the grass like a dog. I had never seen this behavior before and it was so funny! After leaving my bear friend, I headed to see my next baby - the elephant. Not so much of a baby anymore, it was great to see the baby briefly as once again crowds were an issue (You’ll find this as a theme of the day). The main source of activity besides the baby was the lions! They were having a great time talking and showing off.

Lastly were the secretary birds. These are some of my favorite birds in this trail. If you got this far, you get to enter my Giveaway -EXCLUSIVE to this blog! Enter here:

This has already been a journey and I have so much more to share! Before I go enjoy this quick clip montage of some of the cute animals I saw and stay tuned for part two next week! (I may even remember to film horizontally!)

Signing off for now,

Your Explorer

Patrick O’Connor

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