Over the weekend, we took Allie on her first trip to the San Diego Zoo! With Zack’s mom in town, we knew we wanted to show her the zoo at some point before she left and this weekend was the perfect time to go. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was in the low 70’s and we had a great breeze all day as well. Plus the zoo is pretty shaded already so it made for a really comfortable day. None of us were overheating and feeling gross throughout the day which was super nice considering we’ve been getting 90+ degree weather a lot lately.
We weren’t 100% sure how Allie would do but she was perfect! She’s normally super good during the day, especially when we’re out and moving around so I wasn’t too worried, but you really never know. especially when it’s warm and sunny out. For all I knew, the sun and warm weather would make her uncomfortable. But nope! We fed her first thing this morning, again when we arrived at the zoo (while us adults had our coffee), again about 3-4 hours later and then one last time before we headed home. In between those feedings, she was fast asleep! How perfect, right?!
Aside from Zack’s mom being in town, another one of the reasons we wanted to check out the zoo was to see their new exhibit: Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks*. The overall exhibit is still in the process of being built, but I was super thrilled to see the penguin habit* was all set and ready for visitors. I love penguins so this habitat alone was worth the trip for me.
The San Diego Zoo’s new Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks* highlights some of Africa’s most extraordinary species, as you wander through six different habitats from savanna to seashore. Africa Rocks is the Zoo’s most ambitious exhibit project to date. This expansive, multi-species tribute to African wildlife has transformed what was the steep grade and 1930s-era exhibits of Cat Canyon into an easily accessible, gently winding pathway with state-of-the-art homes for animals and garden spaces for plants. Africa Rocks consists of six habitats: Kopje, Ethiopian Highlands, Acacia Woodland, Madagascar Forest, West African Forest, and Cape Fynbos. Descriptions:
- Kopje – These boulder-strewn islands in grassland savanna are home for a variety of animals that live their lives among the rocks, including meerkats, hyraxes, and klipspringer antelope.
- Ethiopian Highlands – This rugged mountain habitat is made up of craggy, granite peaks and plateaus. The unique species adapted to this environment include Hamadryas baboons, geladas, and Nubian ibex.
- Acacia Woodland – This open woodland habitat features shrubs and grasses among thorn-bearing acacia trees. Leopards prowl here, vervet monkeys chatter in large family groups, and a colorful bevy of birds flit and nest among the branches in a huge walk-through aviary.
- Madagascar Forest – Madagascar’s forests are among the world’s most distinctive, with dramatic limestone formations and spiny dry forest plants. This is home to species found nowhere else on Earth, including the extraordinary tree-leaping lemurs.
- West African Forest – The dense, tropical forests of western Africa get up to 80 inches of rain each year, creating waterfalls, streams, and pools for fish and the dwarf crocodiles that eat them.
- Cape Fynbos – The fynbos along South Africa’s rocky coastline sets the stage for unusual species, including the weird and beautiful protea plants, small sharks that swim among the reefs, and the adorable, warm-weather African penguins.
When many think of Africa, they think of animals like elephants, giraffes, gorillas, buffalo, lions. But the Africa Rocks exhibit shows you a whole other part of the continent. It focused on the smaller species. The ones that some don’t even realize live there. So Africa Rocks is a great eye opener!
Like other exhibits around the zoo, Africa Rocks brings you a lot of history as well plants and geology found in that part of the world. The African Garden contains many beautiful plants and flowers found in Africa that you probably have never seen before (unless you’ve been to Africa!). Going into each habitat, you’ll pass rock formations which represent the geology of that particular region. This shows you a more in depth look at what these habitats actually look like along with the key animals and plants found there.
Another great feature of this exhibit is their 65-foot Rady Falls which is located in West African Forest. Rady Falls is the largest man-made waterfall in San Diego—nearly 7 stories high! The water from the falls is recycled and recirculated for a water-wise feature. Walking through the falls was incredibly relaxing and refreshing. The breeze and cool water made it the perfect spot to take a break from the sunshine and heat.
Currently the first habitat to open up in the Africa Rocks exhibit is Cape Fynbos. Within Cape Fynbos, you have Penguin Beach which contains a large colony of penguins. This is the first time penguins have been at the San Diego Zoo in 35 years! Their beach includes a 275,000-gallon pool which they share with leopard sharks. Visitors are able to view the penguins from both above water and from below via the large underwater viewing window. Since African Penguins are endangered, this colony will go on to nest and eventually raise chicks here at the zoo!
I don’t know what it is, but having a child made the zoo a million times more fun. She’s not even old enough to care about the animals or anything like that, but I almost felt like I was part of this exclusive club of parents. I didn’t spend my day staring at all the cute kids and feeling jealous of their little families because I had that. I have my own little family now. And even though she couldn’t have cared less that we spent the day at the zoo, we still have those memories and photos of her very first zoo trip. I’m super excited for when she’s a bit older and actually has an interest in the animals and playgrounds.
Spending the day at the zoo was quite exhausting, but it was a good day nonetheless. We had arrived around 10:30 in the morning and didn’t get back home until around 6 o’clock so it was a rather long day for everyone. I was more than happy to get changed and curl up on the couch with a cold glass of wine and my MacBook.
If you’re in the San Diego area or plan to visit soon, I highly recommend spending a day at the zoo. The San Diego Zoo is easily the best zoo I’ve ever been to (and I’m a huge fan of zoos…I’ve been to many).
Do you plan to check out the Africa Rocks exhibit at the San Diego Zoo?