San Diego Zoo 7-28-14

We had a rare weekday visit the San Diego Zoo last week. Because of work we usually reserve trips for the weekends, but there was a scheduled power outage for maintenance. Since we are self employed, a holiday was declared, and we spent the day together at the zoo. The summer crowds were light and we had no trouble doing and seeing everything we wanted!

We spent a lot of time in the reptile house this visit. We don’t often walk through this exhibit, but we have been doing a turtle unit study and it was a perfect accompaniment.

San Diego Zoo Reptiles

The Komodo Dragons were out and quite active, much to our delight!

San Diego Zoo Komodo Dragons

We also made a point of seeking out some turtles to observe. We watched the Alligator Snapping Turtle for a bit. I didn’t get a really clear picture of him, but I love the effect of my daughters hat reflecting on his head in the glass!

San Diego Zoo Alligator Snapping Turtle

We also really enjoyed the Galapagos Turtles exhibit. They are fascinating to watch, slowly making their way around. We found out this guy is 110 years old and came to the zoo in 1928!

San Diego Zoo Galapagos Turtle

We saw some very cute and fuzzy baby flamingos that had just hatched in June.

San Diego Zoo Baby  Flamingos

And, speaking of cute babies…

San Diego Zoo Baby Giraffe

This very tall baby was also born in June at the zoo.

Of course, our trip wasn’t complete without a stop to see some magnificent big cats. We just happened upon the new mountain lion exhibit. It is open and has plenty of viewing area for many guests. Luckily, the two mountain lions we saw were out and ready to be admired.

San Diego Zoo Mountain Lion

The jaguar was also very active and stayed close in proximity, which was exciting for the kids. Of course, with him being in a darkened cave, behind glass, it didn’t net me the greatest photograph. But I still enjoy what I got and the experience of watching this magnificent animal with my daughter.

San Diego Zoo Jaguars

That brings us to our stately and beautiful M’Bari. I know I’ve posted about him many times, and most visits we see him sleeping in the shade. It is the fortunate day, indeed, when we catch him actively earning his title of King. Then, it’s a matter of squeezing through a throng of eager guests to even get a glimpse of him. This trip we got the best of both…M’bari was out and the crowds were light. We observed him gnawing away on a bony snack and he even got up and strutted a little before turning his back on everyone and laying down. 🙂

San Diego Zoo M'Bari

San Diego Zoo M'Bari

He certainly is one gorgeous kitty!

If you have an opportunity to visit the San Diego Zoo this summer, they are once again having Nightime Zoo. It looks to be very fun and a great chance to see some of the animals that aren’t always out during the day.  There are also a host of shows, activities and contests! We are definitely looking forward to our next visit!




A Day With Pirates!

My daughter LOVES pirates…truth be told so do I! We especially love the world of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, fairies, mermaids and all the magic that goes along with it. We of course watch lots of Jake and the Neverland Pirates  too. Yes, we love pirates. It was therefore a necessity that we attend Pirate Days at the San Diego Maritime Museum. The collections of the Maritime Museum are vast and engaging. One of our favorites, among the many incredible ships there, is the Star of India. Built in 1863, it is the world’s oldest active sailing ship. It is a beautiful vessel inside and out. Many volunteers were hard at work cleaning and maintaining her in the midst of festivities and tourists. I was surprised that my three year old daughter stopped to take a look at almost every display. She was fascinated with everything on the ship…from stem to stern, so to speak. San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days There were also plenty of pirates on board that were ready to engage in sword fights and playful banter. My daughter, J, wore her finest and was ready to join the crew! She was picked unanimously as the winner of the girls costume contest. I think she charmed just about everyone on board! 🙂 San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days One of the activities was a scavenger hunt that had you follow clues through several ships. Your prize for all of the effort was a visit to the magical mermaid grotto set up on the Star of  India. This was very enchanting for J! San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days The mermaids handed out jewels and a coveted key necklace to her. San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days It was perfect, for she was sure it opened a treasure chest somewhere on board. This necklace is so special we have since redesigned a new and stronger chain of beads for it. It gets worn regularly! San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days Besides exciting encounters with the buccaneers, there were also other re-enactors aboard the ship HMS SurpriseAn admiral made his rounds and hosted a “dance” with ladies and gentlemen in period dress.  San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days   San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days The San Diego Maritime Museum is a wonderful opportunity to experience hands on history. There are many educational opportunities for the family. They have many exciting events to attend throughout the year. It is a great day trip and makes for a fun homeschool field trip as well. San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days

San Diego Safari Park 3-16-14

A beautiful Sunday visit to the San Diego Safari Park.

We took a leisurely stroll through the Wings of the World aviary and enjoyed some close and personal attention from the many Golden Breasted Starlings. They were quite eager to have their portraits taken!

Safari Park Golden Breasted Starling

We watched the elephant keeper talk. It’s always very informative and fun. Showing off their stuff today was Swazi and her baby Qinisa.

Safari Park Qinisa

Swazi received an elephant pedicure.

Safari Park Swazi

And Qinisa got a little trunk wash.

Safari Park Qinisa

Safari Park Qinisa

Kastan the Caracal was the featured animal encounter near the African Outpost. He is such a beautiful wild cat and always astounds with his jumping prowess.

Safari Park Caracal Kastan

Beautiful spring blooms were on display throughout the park.

Safari Park Fortnight Lily

Safari Park

The meerkats were out and about and being cute as usual.

Safari Park Meerkats

The cutest of all, though, are the two new  lion cubs Ken and Dixie. They are currently in the zoo nursery area and guests can see them playing, eating and sleeping. They are full of lion personality and a pleasure to watch and photograph. Every time we visit they are noticeably bigger!

Safari Park Lion Cubs Ken & Dixie



San Diego Zoo 1-4-14

We visited the San Diego Zoo a few weeks ago and I am just now getting around to posting. It was a great day to go! We had perfect weather, a bit overcast, which is great for photographing the animals. They are also much more likely to be out and active with a little cloud cover. It’s hard to believe the rest of the country is in a deep freeze when we are wearing shorts and flip flops during the day. That’s Southern California weather for you…shorts in January.

The flamingos were especially colorful this day!

San Diego Zoo Flamingos

We also happened upon a beautiful peacock eating his afternoon snack. He was close and very comfortable in front of an audience. He lingered for quite a while allowing for some great photo ops. Our other bird stop was one of my favorites, the Secretary Bird. There is just something so beautiful and strange about this bird. I love to photograph it.

San Diego Zoo Birds

A gorgeous leopard was perched on a rock people watching.

San Diego Zoo Leopard

The primates were all active and having fun in their various enclosures. They are always entertaining and interesting to observe.

San Diego Zoo Primates

A cute little Sun Bear found a tasty treat inside a large tube.

San Diego Zoo Sun Bear

This camel definitely had the best animal expression of the day!

San Diego Zoo Camel

We also spent some time at the wonderful Balboa Park Carousel, which is just outside of the zoo grounds. It’s one of the loveliest carousel rides I have ever been on. Lots of fun for kids of all ages! It’s now a must visit on our trips to the zoo.

With this unseasonably lovely winter weather we have been having I hope we can plan another trip to San Diego Zoo soon and share some more adventures and pictures.

San Diego Safari Park 8-4-13

King Izu at the San Diego Safari Park

Our trip to the Safari Park this week was all about the lions. They were in rare form while we were watching them, which mean they were awake! These guys can sleep almost 21 hours a day, so most visits we catch them during a snoozing session. However, this time we got to see Izu and his ladies, Mina and Oshana, somewhat active.

Mina & Oshana San Diego Safari Park

King Izu San Diego Safari Park

King Izu San Diego Safari Park

We also checked out the brand new exhibit Lemur Walk. I’m sure this can be exciting, but while we were there…not so much. Apparently it was lemur nap time. At least they were still for pictures!

Lemur Walk San Diego Safari Park

Lemur Walk San Diego Safari Park

Another new addition to the Nairobi Village area is the Village Playground. It is built to simulate an African village, with drums to play, a small plant maze, a build-a-hut and lots of water! My daughter, J, had the best time turning the water wheel and filling her jug…as did every kid there! It’s a nice interactive area to keep the little ones busy and to take a break from walking.

Village Playground San Diego Safari Park

The Summer Safari at the park is in full swing. There are daily shows with acrobats and dancers, lots of delicious food and activities for the kids. It runs until August 18th, so if you are in the Escondido,CA area, spend the day at the Safari Park!

Summer Safari San Diego Safari Park

San Diego Safari Park 3-10-13

Our visit to the Safari Park this week was pretty exciting! We weren’t even sure we were going until the evening before, which is kind of unusual for us…you know spontaneity and all! I usually like to prep for a couple of days, because I pack the three of us a lunch that is pretty much all from scratch and  I had that darned daylight savings  time change to deal with. I woke up at 9 am, thinking I had already overslept…until Hubby reminded me it was really 10!  Not the greatest start, but I used my supermom powers and somehow got us all fed, dressed, packed and out the door at a reasonable time. I even managed a homemade lunch and it was one of the best chicken salads I’ve ever made. I will try to remember the recipe to share here sometime. I believe that was my lesson that spontaneity vs over planning can be a good thing!

Back to the Safari Park…

What We Saw

Our first exciting encounter was the Elephant Keeper talk at the Tembo Stadium. We just happened to walk up as it was starting, and I’m glad we we did. This was a chance to see several of the elephants up close, including the newest baby elephant, Qinisa. I couldn’t believe how cute this baby was and my little girl, J was ecstatic watching her run around the enclosure. Heck, so was I! We also got to see the mother elephant, Swazi and another younger elephant.

Baby Qinisa

Baby Qinisa

Mother Swazi

Mother Swazi

We learned that the adult elephants are all from Swaziland. The trainers use a whistle to alert them to do particular tasks. Swazi showed off her skills by ignoring a  glove tossed by her and then retrieving it on command. Keepers also believe Swazi may have weak eyesight, as she doesn’t always notice scuffles among the other elephants. We also learned that there is a definite hierarchy among the Herd, with Swazi being the dominate female. This gives little Qinisa a bit of an advantage, as her daughter, and apparently she knows it!

To see more of these beautiful and majestic elephants, you can watch them on the Elephant Cam courtesy of the Safari Park’s website.

We were also were excited to make it down to the African Outpost area for an Animal Encounter with Kusikia, the Bat Eared Fox. She is only around 9 months old and is in training for the encounters. She’s a little skittish during the presentation, but once she relaxes a bit she puts on quite a show, chasing her toys and cuddling with her keepers. Kusikia is adorable and we loved watching her up close.



We learned that Kusikia, as mentioned already, is still just a baby. She loves stuffed pandas and always has one in her enclosure to play with. The keepers mentioned that they are hopeful that Kusikia will become comfortable enough with people to one day be touched and pet during her Animal Encounters outings.

We are excited about our next visit to the park, since it is the opening weekend of Butterfly Jungle! It is a thrilling opportunity to walk among hundreds of live butterflies as they float and possibly land for a moment on you! The photo ops are overwhelming, so I hope to get a few interesting ones to share! The Safari Park is also holding several contests to celebrate Butterfly Jungle, so head over to their website for a chance to win a great prize and read more about this exciting event!