Postcards from the West | The admirable San Diego Zoo invites continued and again visits. There are, afterwards all, added than 3,700 animals to get to know. Plus, the Australian Outback breadth was aloof updated.
You and I both apperceive breadth to acquisition an amaranthine accumulation of watchable animals — felines, canines, reptiles, eating, sleeping, swinging, swatting, spooning. It’s adamantine to attending away. Time flies by.
“Yes,” you say with a sigh. “The Internet is ruining us.”
Probably. But I’m talking about the San Diego Zoo, an absolute concrete abode that ability not be a decay of time.
San Diego Zoo: Articles in the Oct. 27 and Dec. 29 Travel sections about the San Diego Zoo appear that its $99 Backstage Pass affairs included the amount of zoo admission. The amount of acceptance ($46 for adults) is separate. Added acceptance advice can be activate at zoo.sandiegozoo.org/tickets. —
Here, afterwards account of mouse, adviser or smartphone, you can lock gazes with a viper, aroma albatross scat and coo at an ambrosial behemothic panda — until you apprehend the alarming crisis of that 230-pound bear’s athletic teeth, snapping and shredding an inch-thick bamboo stalk.
That was Bai Yun, a 22-year-old mother of six, disturbing into breakfast while I watched and winced one morning aftermost month.
Even admitting best of its association are bound non-natives, the zoo is an iconic Southern California conception all the same, with added than 3,700 animals from 650 species, amidst by 700,00 bulb breed and ogled by 3.5 actor visitors aftermost year.
If it weren’t for that annoying St. Louis Zoo (3,519,926 visitors aftermost year), San Diego’s would be the most-visited ability of its affectionate in North America. The zoo’s leaders ability adopt to accent its role in allowance accompany aback pandas, California condors and added threatened species, but in simple gawk-and-snap terms, this breadth has been a 100-acre photo op aback afore Kodachrome was born. In the 1930s, the zoo veterinarian acclimated to roam the breadth amid affairs with a Graflex camera, again advertise the prints at the advanced gate. (That vet, Charles Schroeder, went on to run the abode from the 1950s into the 1970s.)
San Diego is my absence zoo. Aloof as my babe counts on seeing Reggie the alligator on her way into the L.A. Zoo (1,100 animals; about 1.5 actor visitors yearly), I grew up with the Skyfari buckets dangling aloft and blush flamingos argument at the entrance. In the Children’s Zoo, I rode the Galápagos tortoises, and a dupe already peed on me.
There were no goats on this trip, but in the several canicule that L.A. Times columnist Mark Boster and I spent adrift the grounds, there was affluence of acoustic stimulation: One afternoon, casual the California condors, I glimpsed a bunch of abrupt fur on the rocks — a beginning advance of asleep rabbits and rats, laid out by the keepers, for the scavengers’ brunch. At the Backstage Pass program, I got slimed by cornball spittle, howled in accord with an chill wolf whose fur was as white as snow and fed flamingos application one of those red bogus cups you acclimated to confuse at frat parties.
I awful acclaim the flamingo feeding. You sit on a bank with cup in hand, and the long-necked, sharp-beaked birds appear at you like a fleet of blush Concordes. As they breeze up the bite pellets, you feel their beaks awkward in your cup.
The abutting morning in the Conrad Prebys Australian Outback breadth — a aloft afterlight of the zoo’s Australian collections that opened in May — we looked on while babysitter Kate Tooker gave the changeable koalas their eucalyptus fixes, again paused to bundle a wallaby. In the abutting enclosure, babysitter Lindsay Baron abreast candied nothings to a macho koala while it paced a few anxiety on a branch, climbed a few accomplish up a trunk, again acclimatized in to bite leaves.
For a koala, which sleeps about 16 hours of every 24, this was cyclone activity. And in this new setup, they’re easier to see — afterpiece to visitors, beneath buried by foliage.
Of course, best zoo visitors will additionally appetite to pay visits to the lions, tigers, elephants and giraffes, and so did we. (One of the giraffes stared me bottomward for so continued I anticipation it ability appeal to see my ID.) But I set abreast added time for my old accompany the tortoises, which accept been allotment of the zoo aback accession from the Galápagos in 1928.
This looked like a aberration at first: Beyond the boulders upfront, I saw no assurance of activity in their enclosure. Again a bedrock budged and a scaly, dark-eyed, basic face emerged. Again another.
While I looked over those faces, babysitter Jonny Carlson brought me up to date. In 1972, keepers chock-full absolution kids ascend aboard. Nine of the zoo’s aboriginal tortoises are still here, added one that accustomed in the ’30s. They insolate in the sun to balmy their algid blood, breeze up greens from their keepers and — as I witnessed — occasionally blood-soaked anniversary other’s noses in awkward battles for dominance. In added words, they’re no bigger than Congress.
And as in Congress, their administration is carefully tracked — in this case by the numbers corrective on their shells. That’s how we apperceive No. 5, nicknamed “Speed,” which weighs abutting to 600 pounds. He accustomed in 1933. He was estimated to be in his 60s then, so he’s abreast 140 now, the oldest beastly in the zoo.
There’s a acceptable adventitious that Speed’s mother and ancestor were awkward about on one of the Galápagos islands in 1835 aback a man with a anthology showed up and started borer on tortoise shells. The man alike sat on a few, award it “very difficult to accumulate my balance.” Again he went home to England with his notebooks and wrote “The Origin of Species.”
That’s right: By the tortoise calendar, you and I are aloof one bearing removed from Charles Darwin.
San Diego Zoo: Its history and some fun facts
The zoo’s birth. Pandas accord birth. A affiliation to the alpha of YouTube. This is a abundant place.
1916: Inspired by a lion’s barrage and afraid about what would become of the alien animals in the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park, surgeon Harry M. Wegeforth founds the San Diego Zoological Society.
1923: Grand aperture in Balboa Park. Developed acceptance is 10 cents.
1925: Aboriginal koalas, kangaroos, emus, wombats and dingoes access from Australia. Belle J. Benchley, a aloft teacher, is assassin as a acting bookkeeper.
1927: Executive secretary Belle Benchley ascends to the role of zoo director. For abounding years, she is the abandoned changeable zoo administrator in the world. She serves until 1953.
1928: Aboriginal Galápagos tortoises arrive.
1931: Aboriginal gorillas access from Africa: Mbongo and N’gagi, afterwards to be acclaimed by brownish busts abreast the entrance.
1930s: Caught in a Depression-era tax altercation with canton officials, the zoo’s acreage and animals are put up for bargain but allure no bidders. Zoo veterinarian Charles Schroeder stretches the account by agriculture carnivores horse meat from Mexico.
1941: In Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane,” the San Diego Zoo stands in for the Xanadu assembly of Charles Foster Kane.
1953: Benchley retires and is succeeded by aloft zoo veterinarian Charles Schroeder, a bull apostle for moats instead of cages.
1964: SeaWorld, a for-profit adventure founded by four UCLA grads who originally capital to body an underwater restaurant, opens on San Diego’s Mission Bay. It’s an actual success, blame off abiding antagonism with the zoo.
1969: The zoo unveils the Skyfari, an aerial gondola that gives visitors a bird’s-eye appearance of the esplanade and campaign about 1,800 feet. Annual appearance alcove 3 million. Zoo administration decides to appoint a photogenic adolescent woman as Miss Zoofari, a amicableness agent who makes accessible appearances with animals.
1970: Joan Embery, a 21-year-old Children’s Zoo accessory and San Diego State student, is called as the added Miss Zoofari.
1971: Joan Embery, abutting by Carol the painting elephant, appears Nov. 4 as a bedfellow of Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.” It goes well. During the abutting 38 years, through the Carson and Leno eras, Embery is access aback added than 40 times. On one visit, a marmoset relieves itself on Carson’s head. On another, a two-headed baron snake crawls up the host’s sleeve.
1972: The Zoological Association opens the Agrarian Beastly Park, a 1,800-acre affinity of the zoo, in the hills of arctic San Diego County. It’s now accepted as the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
1975: The Zoological Association opens the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species. Its efforts accommodate the Arctic Zoo, a accumulating of arctic corpuscle cultures that has developed to accommodate added than 9,000 abandoned birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and fish.
1987: Fifteen years afterwards the aboriginal accession of Chinese behemothic pandas at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., the San Diego Zoo receives pandas Basi and Yuan Yuan on concise accommodation from China.
1996: Behemothic pandas Bai Yun (female) and Shi Shi (male) access from China on abiding loan. Breeding efforts begin. (Shi Shi allotment to China in 2003.)
1999: With the aid of bogus insemination, Bai Yun gives bearing to cub Hua Mei.
2005: The aboriginal YouTube video, “Me at the Zoo,” is attempt in San Diego Zoo’s albatross breadth and uploaded by YouTube co-creator Jawed Karim.
2010: Zoological Association advisers accede to a aloft name shuffle. Henceforward, the association will alarm itself San Diego Zoo Global. The Agrarian Beastly Esplanade will be accepted as the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Center for Reproduction of Endangered Breed will be accepted as the Institute for Conservation Research.
2012: On July 29, Bai Yun gives bearing to her sixth cub, Xiao Li Wu. Combined zoo and Safari Esplanade appearance alcove 5 million. SeaWorld attendance: 4.4 million.
Sources: “Mister Zoo: The Activity and Legacy of Dr. Charles Schroeder,” by Douglas G. Myers with Lynda Rutledge Stephenson; Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums; http://www.sandiegozoo.org; library.sandiegozoo.org/history.htm; http://www.prsasdic.org/content.asp?itemid=92; http://www.aecom.com/themeindex
San Diego’s thoroughly modern, aflame new Central Library
San Diego’s new $185-million library opened Sept. 30 and is a huge hit. There is a Seussian kids’ area, baseball memorabilia, a fun allowance boutique and a roof-top terrace. And books.
Will the peacock shrieks do it? The biscuit slobber? The afflicted cries of added people’s children? One way or another, you’ll apperceive aback you’ve had abundant of the San Diego Zoo..
That will be your cue to avenue the zoo parking lot, about-face appropriate assimilate Esplanade Boulevard, abide two afar and catch the aflame new San Diego Central Library (330 Esplanade Blvd.;  236-5800, http://www.lat.ms/1fJMPwB). Goodbye, nature. Hello, literature.
The library is one continued block from Petco Park, breadth the Padres play. From outside, it looks like a ammo aimed at the moon. From inside, aggregate seems to circumduct about a thoroughly avant-garde mission accomplished that soars three belief aloft the arena floor. The $185-million building, which opened Sept. 30, is added than active the admeasurement of the city’s old capital library, which went up in the 1950s and was admired by … well, cipher I could find.
There’s affluence of action about the new one, though. Library backer Marion Hubband said the architecture drew 6,000 visitors to a Sept. 28 examination and an added 7,500 on its aboriginal day of operations.
Besides the building’s abounding books, discs and cyberbanking assets, parents will get a bang out of the chiral typewriter ($75) for auction in the wittily curated allowance shop. Kids will like the murals of Dr. Seuss characters in the ground-floor children’s area.
Adolescent guests will be animated to see the teen-only breadth — with big bean-bag chairs and a bite breadth — on the added floor. (Two floors of the architecture are adherent to a new aerial school, not accessible to visitors.)
Old and adolescent will acknowledge the sun-splashed eighth-floor account room, with a big accumulating of baseball abstracts and memorabilia nearby. And again there’s the terrace on top, breadth you can apprehend the wind blitz through the metalwork that forms the building’s dome.
That arch alcove 255 anxiety aloft artery level. It was advised by San Diego artist Rob Wellington Quigley and Tucker Sadler & Associates to anamnesis the arch of the California Building, which has been a accoutrement in Balboa Esplanade aback 1915.
Inside and outside, the library’s walls are categorical with arcane quotations from Oscar Wilde, Toni Morrison, Jorge Luis Borges and others. This one is from biographer William Nicholson: “We apprehend to apperceive we are not alone.”
The architecture has 250 parking spaces with 250 added beyond the street, and it stands aural a few blocks of three trolley curve and 18 bus lines. So far, the baby bistro in the library courtyard charcoal closed, but a backer said it would be accessible by the end of the year.
San Diego Zoo’s panda keepers are Master Chefs of bamboo
When pandas aren’t sleeping, they’re bistro a lot of bamboo. Staffers are on duke to augment and to explain.
It takes a apple to accumulate the San Diego Zoo’s four behemothic pandas able-bodied fed and able-bodied understood. Two of those villagers are Jennifer Chapman and narrator Nick Orrantia.
Chapman, 38, has been a babysitter for about three years, alive with pandas, big bodies and added animals. On panda days, she generally starts at 6 a.m., pre-cracks the bamboo with a log splitter, cleans the active areas and releases the animals to eat, all afore the aboriginal visitors arrive. (Tip: Panda cafeteria usually arrives at 11:30 a.m. or so, and banquet about 2:30 p.m. Watching them eat is added fun than watching them sleep.)
Orrantia, at age 24 a seven-year zoo veteran, is a narrator, which agency belief anchor abounding of accurate abstracts and demography company questions. (The best common: Are behemothic pandas allotment of the buck family? Yes, he tells people, but scientists accept abandoned agreed on that aback the aboriginal 1980s.) Sometimes Orrantia helps with babysitter duties too.
Both Chapman and Orrantia absorb abundant of their time focused on the animals’ assimilation and output. So alike if you account the two separately, you get answers that braid calm snugly. And you apprehend things you never absurd about bamboo and panda poop. For instance:
How abundant bamboo does an developed panda eat in a day?
“We action 50-60 pounds,” Chapman said. Of that, Orrantia said, they usually eat about 35 to 50 pounds.
They aloof eat bamboo all day, every day?
No. Over the advance of a year, the pandas are offered about 45 breed of bamboo, Chapman said. The keepers like to mix at atomic three breed per feeding, Orrantia said, because in the agrarian the array of bamboo breed is generally alike greater. The bears additionally get casual carrots, candied potatoes, apples and biscuits. Their admired treat: apples and honey water, Chapman said.
Do they all eat about the same?
No. Chapman said that Gao Gao, the macho aged amid the bears (an estimated 23 years old), has beat teeth and needs smaller, thinner $.25 of bamboo. Xiao Liwu, a cub built-in in July 2012, is still alive his way up to an developed diet. Xiao Liwu’s 22-year-old mother, Bai Yun, is far hardier and brand to chaw blubbery stalks, Chapman said. Her admired bamboo, Orrantia said, is accepted as Buddha’s Abdomen because its joints cool (like Buddha’s belly) aback it rains a lot. That allegedly changes the flavor. Bai Yun brand it wetter.
So there’s lot of bamboo activity in. How does it appear out?
A advantageous panda poop, said Chapman, “is about the admeasurement of an avocado.” The added leaves in the panda’s diet, the greener the color, she said. If the panda has been bistro abandoned bamboo, Orrantia said, the account “smells like a adulteration pumpkin. Like the end of Halloween.” The added non-bamboo items in the meal, the added acute the smell, Chapman said.
So afterwards all these years bistro bamboo, their digestive systems charge be acceptable at authoritative use of it, right?
Wrong. The bears accomplish use of about 17% of the bamboo they eat, Orrantia said, “and the blow goes appropriate through.” Aback pandas defecate, he said, “it looks like a allotment of bamboo went through a wood-chipper.”
What’s the best allotment of a keeper’s day?
It’s usually aboriginal in the morning, Chapman said, aback she faces the pandas through a fence, greets them and tries to arm-twist a alternation of “enrichment” behaviors afore absolution them into the added ample display area. It lasts abandoned about two minutes, Chapman said, but “it’s my befalling to collaborate — in a careful setting, of advance — with the bears, and watch them attending for the aliment I’ve put out for them.” To accumulate the bears alert, keepers adumbrate aliment items in altered places daily. Keepers don’t access the display breadth aback a panda is present, “unless it’s a cub up a tree, and again we accept a added being watching the cub.”
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