Even if you’ve been to a zoo before — which I am told that I have been, though I have no personal memory of it — everyone says you need to see the San Francisco Zoo. And by “everyone” of course, I mean everyone I know. My parents, my brothers, the people at the ticket counter at the zoo; everyone!
Unlike the zoo in my city, which is very, very good, this place has free space on tap and they’ve taken every opportunity to use it all. That means you’ll want to bring your walking shoes, but you should already know that when you go out. I don’t have any other kind of shoes and I’m not sure they actually exist, except of course for Cinderella’s glass slippers which sound just plain dangerous.
Left – Okay, maybe these aren’t the most exciting cut-outs for tourist photos, but we loved them and gladly stuck our heads through to see how great we looked petting critters. Also we got to see how we’ll look when we grow up, assuming our heads remain child-sized.
The San Francisco zoo isn’t just fun and full of animals, it’s really fun and loaded up to overflowing with the animals. That’s my kind of zoo.
They’ve got great main stage stuff like Africa and the tropical house, but they also have good sideshows like Eagle Island — which recently granted humor pundit Stephen Colbert adoption privileges — and a lively penguin community too.
If you want to spend half a day at the zoo, plan carefully because it’s not that small. If you want to spend a whole day, however, you can do that. There’s a bunch of chill-out parent places like a playground where you can turn loose with your munchkins, an antique and authentic steam train and the neatest, oldest carousel I’ve ever ridden, and I’ve been on a few. Not just that but the premium stuff like the train and the carousel — the only stuff you’ll need to pay for aside from refreshments — are priced to move. I didn’t realize it until we came home and tried to go to a traveling carnival only to find they charged more for a rickety piece of ugly garbage than we paid to take a long and even merry of going ‘round.
Right – Even the polar bears put on a good show for us.
And if that’s not enough cool down time, head over to the petting zoo where you can play with and feed everything from ducks to goats to chickens to sheep to a double-horned whatzit… I don’t know what it was, but it sure loved us short folk.
I don’t know if it was the weather, the feeding schedule or what, but we got really lucky with the animals liking us as much as we liked them. The tigers literally roared for us, the polar bears were pacing like they just took a pregnancy test, the lions walked right up and stared us down, the birds screamed at us like we just stole some eggs and the gophers popped up to check us out like the dogs of the prairie they are. Obviously the ducks quacked us and the geese goosed us, but that’s to be expected.
They were so interested in us that no less than twice we had to ask the animals to please not tap the glass. It scares the human exhibits, which in this case was us, but we got over it.
If you don’t like zoos and you don’t care a bit about animals, this may not be the place to go, but if you’re in the other 99% of readers enjoying this fine and uncommonly insightful article, check out the zoo. It’s bigger than you think, has a bunch of animals you aren’t expecting, and when you get tired, has more distractions for the chitlins than any zoo anyone in my family has been to, and my brother Brendan has seen zoos from Shanghai to Seattle… of course we live in Seattle but the other half is still pretty impressive.
The San Francisco zoo is located on Sloat Boulevard at the Great Highway (47th Avenue); next to the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco and is open 10 to 5 daily, 365 days of the year! Check out their website for current rates and seasonal adjustment to hours and driving directions.
Above – It may look like we were just a few feet from the prarie dogs, but only because we were. It was really neat because they kept popping their little heads out to say hello and all that kept us apart was a thick layer of nose and tiny hand besmudged glass.