Monday, September 12, 2011

San Diego Zoo Part II: Children's Zoo

In the same general part of the San Diego Zoo (called the Discovery Outpost) as the Reptile House and Reptile Mesa is the Children's Zoo. It's probably called that because it has these easy-to-read signs and hosts various animal encounter programs (and probably others) throughout the day (and it also closes earlier than the other major exhibits at the zoo), but it has a varied collection of interesting animals, and is by no means just for kids.

I'd actually been to the Children's Zoo the first time I came here, but I wanted to check up on one particular individual animal.

One of the first animals I saw in the Children's Zoo, a Goeldi's marmoset.

A fennec fox. One of the few (minor) drawbacks of this zoo is that many of the smaller animals that are kept in outdoor exhibits have these wire mesh cages that... aren't conductive to photography.

This is the animal I wanted to check on. Victor the short-beaked echidna is the oldest resident mammal at the zoo. He's more than fifty years old! He was much the same the last time I saw him: half buried in the sand with his quills protruding. What an interesting species and individual. He really deserves more attention than I saw him get. Or not. He might appreciate an uninterrupted nap.

As would probably be expected, a number of other visitors misidentified Victor as a porcupine. Ironically, just nearby was an exhibit with an actual crested porcupine. It also appeared to enjoy sleeping in its den.

Here is a good demonstration of how even comparatively mundane species can make for interesting displays. This tank houses domesticated albino house mice. The most interesting part of the exhibit is that the mice are living inside a giant loaf of bread. It's an edible home for them.

Maniraptors at last! Here's a kea, an inquisitive omnivorous New Zealand parrot.

Some collared lories.

A naked mole rat.

A river otter.

A thick-billed parrot, one of the few parrots that lived in the United States (but is now only found in the wild in Mexico).

A male Andean cock-of-the-rock.

A scarlet macaw.

A rock hyrax. My first hyrax! As it turns out, I found that there was no shortage of rock hyraxes at the zoo. I saw half a dozen exhibits with them scattered throughout the zoo. They're a little bigger than I expected (probably because we're always talking about how small hyraxes are compared to their closest terrestrial relatives the elephants).

Some meerkats. This is another species that is everywhere in this zoo.

Technically not part of the Children's Zoo, there's an easy-to-miss aviary nearby. Just outside of it were these mountain bamboo partridges.

And across from them is a green aracari. It has its back turned to the camera.

This was one of the many walk-through aviaries at the San Diego Zoo (and one of the smaller ones), and it also happened to be the only one I got to visit this time. Many tropical American birds lived inside, notably several hummingbird species (which I didn't get any photos of). Most conspicuous was this sunbittern.

I know I was trying to photograph something (a tanager, perhaps) here, but the foliage got in the way.


  1. Hey, cool. Did you get any pics from Elephant Odyssey?

  2. As a matter of fact, I did! I'll be posting those in a later post.

  3. The kea photo's off by 15 degrees...

    1. I think it's the right way up. The kea is sitting upright on the branch (you can see its tail poking out from behind the bottom of the branch), but its head is bent down and mostly hidden.

  4. "The most interesting part of the exhibit is that the mice are living inside a giant loaf of bread. It's an edible home for them."
    I hope they don't eat too much; they will eat their way out of the enclosure and escape.

    1. Ha! The bread is not the only thing keeping them confined; as I recall, they are also inside a glass tank.