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As a former zookeeper, I have a penchant for visiting zoos when I travel. I love animals in general, and by visiting these establishments, especially the San Diego Zoo which is known for its charitable work for endangered species and groundbreaking educational programs, I know that I am putting my money towards a good cause.

When we first arrived, we took a guided tour on a two level tour bus, which is included with general admission. By doing so, we were able to get a feel for the property and learn some interesting facts about the animals that live there. Additionally, we opted to purchase the Discovery Cart Tour and let a guide show us around the grounds in a 60 minute ride that is more detailed and catered to your personal preferences. We had Leah as our tour guide and she was amazing! Not only was she enthusiastic about showing us around, but she knew so many fun little tidbits of information about all the animals. Thanks to her enthusiasm, we went well over 60 minutes and enjoyed every second of it!

We were able to get a behind the scenes look at an adorable giant panda munching on some bamboo, koalas doing what they do best (sleeping and eating eucalyptus), lions, tigers, and bears (oh my), ring tail lemurs, and one of my [surprise] favorites – the ground hornbill. Normally, my favorite animal of all time is the ringtail lemur, but this particular ground hornbill had the sweetest personality! When Leah said that this bird was one of her favorites, my aunt and I got off of the cart to go check her out and sure enough, the giant bird immediately hopped over to us and tried to hand us a gift of branches through the plexiglass – it was the cutest thing!

After our tour, we walked around for a bit and even rode on the Skyfari, a gondola ride that takes you from one side of the park to the other and offers a bird’s eye view of the animals below. We watched gorilla’s catch food from their keepers and a baby orangutan bond with one of her aunts as she foraged for food. The zoo has thousands of animals and so a full day is necessary to see everything. I was so glad we decided to do the Discovery Cart Tour and for anyone who is on the fence, I say go for it – A) You’ll get a great tour of the grounds in a shaded cart with lots of extra information on the animals, and B) You’re money goes directly towards the animals at the zoo and across the world. It truly is a win/win!!!

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