San Diego Zoo

IMG_2885We had a marvelous time at the zoo. I’m not up on my zoo experiences and what they should be like, but there is no question that this is the best zoo I’ve ever visited.

If world-class works for describing zoos, then this place is world-class. It was really a fantastic zoo experience.

There was a swing band. There was also a rock band. There were trampoline acrobatics. There was a “skyfari” (chairlift) across the park. (You could ride it as often as you liked for no additional charge.) That, in itself, was like a theme park ride for the kids.

They loved it.IMG_2714

There were kiosks and other small shops all over the park, where you could buy stuff.

There were scads of employees to answer questions, as well as those who cleaned up after us. It had a theme park feel to it, not a zoo feel.

There were also double-decker bus rides that provided guided tours that ran all day. Then there were other double-decker buses that took you from spot to spot throughout the park.

One more thing

They had animals too. Many of the animals I had never heard of. It was really an amazing place.

They were intuitive in how they administrated the park. It reminded me of a Mac computer, in that they did the thinking for you. It was well planned and laid out just right.

IMG_2888It was also not a big park. It was in the city of San Diego, which made it compact, though there was a ton to do, but yet laid out in such a way that it did not feel compact at all.

We arrived about the time they opened, and stayed after they closed. They had a kid’s petting zoo on the property, so we did that too.

There was also a “Sea Life” aquarium, with several tunnels in it.

You could tell they had spent time not only laying out the park, but administrating it. They also have done a good job envisioning the employees on how to take care of their guests.

Joan Embrey

The only downside is that seemingly nobody knew who Joan Embrey was. I asked several of the employees if they knew who she was, and the answer was always, “No”.

That was disappointing.

I grew up with Joan Embrey, who was a regular guest on the Johnny Carson show. She would come up from San Diego and bring an animal or two with IMG_2649her, and talk about the zoo and the animal with Johnny.

He would always make her visit funny.

Back then the world was a much smaller place, so to see the San Diego zoo through the Tonight Show was a treat.

My number one reason for going to the zoo was to see Joan Embrey. So, I started asking folks if they had heard of her and nobody knew who she was.

I was sad.

IMG_2887After several disappointing conversations, I finally found an older lady who knows Joan. The key word is “older”. She was an older lady.

That made me more discouraged.

After about an hour or two, we had made our way around the park and back to the front again, and as we were walking by a band on stage, I looked up and the sign said,

“The Joan Embrey Stage”.

Then I was really confused. She had her own stage, but the employees (the younger ones) had no idea who she was.

The new “face” of the zoo is some other guy, who has been in that role for 15 or so years, which means all the 20 somethings were little kids when Joan rode off into the sunset.

She now has her own home/ranch about 30 miles or so from the zoo, where she does her own thing in a more private setting, though you could go see her there.

That is probably more than you wanted to know about Joan Embrey, but it was important to me.

IMG_2884

Back to the zoo

It was really impressive. I’ve never been to a zoo and thought, “I want to come back to this place.” It was quite special.

They also have a safari park about 30 minutes away, which was about 8 minutes from where we were staying. We did not go there for a visit.

After they closed they put on a light/movie-type show that we attended. It was also IMG_2676excellent, as they had choreographed dancers that were backlit by a movie.

That was really well done too.

Ansa said it was her favorite zoo, and then she followed up with, “I don’t remember going to another one.”

One of the zoo keepers, who was working in the petting zoo, said that folks do come from around the world to look at their zoo.

I thought that was a good idea. Greenville could learn a thing or two, and it would be nice if they implemented some of their ideas.

The San Diego zoo is a non-profit, which apparently has been a good move for them as many folks have donated a lot of money, which has allowed them to have a great facility.

The NPO, plus Joan’s work through TV were two things that put this zoo on the map.

Next year they will celebrate their 100 year anniversary.

Two big thumbs up for the SD Zoo.

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