Rediscovering the San Diego Zoo

They don’t call it the “World Famous San Diego Zoo” anymore, do they? I wonder why?

It sure seems that, regardless of where in the world they are from, visitors to San Diego usually want to see our zoo. And there are many, many people like me who have lived here for years and have gotten a little bored schlepping out-of-towners to the same attractions over and over again. Which is why I am so excited to have discovered the zoo’s “special experiences.”

This past Mother’s Day weekend I enjoyed an inside look tour called Bugs & Blooms, which was part of the zoo’s annual Garden Festival. The two hour tour took us behind the scenes with insect and horticulture experts in their “habitats.”

Wow! I absolutely loved interacting with the friendly, fun and knowledgeable zoo staff who are really passionate about what they do. I learned so many new tidbits and saw things I had never seen in 12 years of visiting. The $69 tour gave me a completely new understanding of why many have called our zoo world famous, and it got me thinking about the other special experiences my family might enjoy. I can see Nana & Pa taking a sunrise surprise stroll. I’ve heard great things about the kindernights program. And for those looking for a summer camp experience, there are several opportunities for children of various ages.

The experience I would most like to check out though is a sleepover at the zoo. In a tent. With wild animals nearby…

Get into the “spirit” of the season during Spooky Sleepover at the Zoo, and meet animals that wear their colorful costumes all year-round. Your ghostly camp director, Dr. Zoolittle, and his ghoulish experts will greet you at check-in with a slithery animal friend. Make your own personalized treat bag to collect goodies throughout the evening, and take an exclusive bus tour that will introduce you to some scary and strange animals before delivering you to “haunted” Camp Timbuktu, where you and your child can settle down in your tent.

After dinner at Camp, kids will “trick or treat” around the Reptile House while meeting and touching some spooky animals—if you dare! Back at camp, kids can participate in a costume parade (be sure to bring your costumes!) with prizes, make yummy Halloween s’mores, and be entertained by Dr. Zoolittle’s ghost stories around the campfire. Those campers still awake can take an optional night prowl through the Zoo.

You’ll wake up to a delicious buffet breakfast overlooking Elephant Odyssey before heading there to watch keepers offer pumpkins to the elephants and lions for a treat or plaything. Then you’ll head home with a souvenir gift and lots of happy memories.

While each of these experiences requires investments above and beyond your admission ticket or membership pass, the money raised goes for a great cause, the zoo’s Global Wildlife Conservancy. If you have a budding conservationists or children who are really curious about wildlife and plants, this is their opportunity to experience a true outdoor classroom with experts at hand. In each special experience you’ll get just that, a special opportunity to learn from the zoo staff, meet and touch the animals and see parts of the zoo that you’ve never seen in a regular visit.

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