Both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Safari Park are non-profit organizations that rely on guest ticket sales and contributions to run the parks and keep up their conservation and education programs. The parks offer a good mix of activities each season. Here is an overview of the spring happenings at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.
Zoo Play Days at the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is hosting “Zoo Play Days” from April 2-24, 2011. During these 23 days, 23 animal activities will take place throughout the park. Visitors can watch zookeeper talks, animal behavior presentations, and enrichment activities (special treats for the animals).
The opening ceremony is something you won’t want to miss. Macaws will fly overhead and costumed characters and animal ambassadors will greet you at the entrance.
Below is a sampling of events and activities to enjoy during the Zoo Play Days at the San Diego Zoo. Pick up a map at the entrance: the daily schedule will be inside. Activities are free with admission unless otherwise indicated.
• Meerkat feedings (A volunteer may be asked to help hand out the crickets.)
• Feeding biscuits to giraffes ($5)
• Camel walk meet-and-greet
• Elephant care demonstrations
• Watching a baby hippo play
• Tiger feedings
• Sea lion shows
• Polar bear play
During the Zoo Play Days, the animal ambassadors will be shown off more frequently. (Animal ambassadors are those that are specially trained and accustomed to being in the public’s eye and are used for public relations purposes and conservation education.) You may be up close to a cheetah, falcon, or some other animal during your visit to the San Diego Zoo.
Butterfly Jungle at the San Diego Safari Park
If you have been to the San Diego Safari Park recently, you may have noticed the butterfly exhibit in the Hidden Jungle has been closed. It will reopen on April 9, 2011 for a special event called “Butterfly Jungle.” The celebration will continue through May 8, 2011. The theme is “Metamorphosis,” an exploration of the butterfly lifecycle. Special activities, like a ladybug release, cockroach petting, and praying mantis holding will also take place during this event.
Guests will need to get tickets to enter the Butterfly Jungle at their appointed times because this will be a very popular event. Tickets will be available at Lorikeet Landing and the Africa Tram and Flightline ticket booths. Wear bright colors if you want the butterflies to land on you.
While in the Hidden Jungle, be sure to check out the African birds housed in the same building as the butterflies. The black-cheeked lovebirds have already fledged some chicks since they moved in.
New Bonsai Pavilion at the San Diego Safari Park
In May 2011, the San Diego Bonsai Club will open a new pavilion with a waterfall, stream, ponds, bridges, and, of course, bonsai art. It replaces the old pavilion and provides guests with a peaceful place to rest during their visit.
Garden Festival at the San Diego Zoo
From May 5 to 8, 2011, guests can learn about the zoo’s 700,000 plants and their role in diets, both animal and human. Guests can also sample some foods with ingredients grown at the zoo. A scavenger hunt, a Dr. Zoolittle show, and special tours are all part of the Garden Festival.
Sunrise Surprise Strolls at the San Diego Zoo
For $16, you can join an exclusive walking tour that includes an animal presentation and activity (probably a feeding or play time for the animals). The tours are offered for just three days in May (15, 21, and 22) and three days in June (5, 18, and 25) from 7:30 to 9 a.m.
Sleepovers at the San Diego Zoo
Celebrate Mother’s Day with a sleepover at the San Diego Zoo. This event includes animal encounters, zookeeper chats, dinner, breakfast, early morning animal viewings, and more. (May 7 and 14, $149)
Roar & Snore Sleepovers at the San Diego Safari Park
At various times this spring, guests can experience the San Diego Safari Park after hours and in a whole new way. The activities vary, but each sleepover includes a tent and sleeping pad rental, supper, breakfast, and special animal experiences. Family-friendly and adult only options are available to accommodate guest preferences. Visit the San Diego Safari Park website for dates and prices.