San Diego Zoo Safari – Way better than a ZOO

tim hunter safari drums

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park was originally created as a breeding facility for the San Diego Zoo and has grown over the years into a stand alone public “theme park” / education / conservation park. There are a number of different ways to experience the park – from “basic” ($44.00 per day including a guided safari tram ride) to “ultimate safari” ($599 per 8 hour day – design your own adventure + personalized guide). The one that looks really cool is the “Roar & Snoar” ($160-225) where you get to spend the night at the zoo and have a customized look behind the scenes. We went basic and had a great day…

hunter safari goat petting

Half of the Safari is the somewhat traditional animal enclosures where you get to observe and experience the animals (Gorillas, Elephants, bats, birds etc.), a small portion is set up as a petting zoo and then the largest geographic section is designed to mirror the african savannah with wide open spaces and divisions only where required due to animals “not playing nicely”. The Savannah portion is really where the access differentiation comes in. With the basic package you get a guided tour on a safari tram, which goes along a paved road through the area. The information provided is very good and the guide works hard to point out all of the animals and stop when something elusive is spotted. The more you pay, the more access you have to the savannah area with some tours going directly into the animal enclosures and you get to feed the giraffes and get your picture taken. The tram safari was a long wait in line (30 minutes) but a very enjoyable experience that left everyone enthused and dreaming of our bucket list safari trip.

Near the end of the day was the Cheetah run demonstration and oh was it ever impressive. This is one of the few facilities in the world that is sanctioned to have a cheetah run in a public space off a leash. The cheetah runs down a 330 foot long track and can go from 0 to 70 miles per hour in just 4 seconds while chasing a mechanical lure attached to it’s favourite stuffy toy. To help relieve the cheetah of any anxiety, they pair them with a dog when young and they become best friends. It is really cools to see them hanging out together in the walk. The dog runs first and this gives the cheetah the confidence to do the same thing. VERY VERY IMPRESSIVE

 

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