Last weekend, I took my granddaughters (seen lounging on a life-size bronze rhino at the Park) to the Safari Park and, since it was forecast to be 100 degrees, we arrived to be among the first in when it opened at 9 a.m. In fact, the girls were so excited to be going that they popped out of bed at 6:30 a.m. ready to leave. Since opening in 1972, the Park has been visited by more than 2 million people annually, is home to more than 2,600 animals representing more than 300 species and incorporates the world's largest veterinary hospital.
When we arrived we went straight to the Tiger Trail to see the critically endangered Sumatran tigers. I told the girls that we were very fortunate to be able to see the majestic tigers out and prowling as they would be sleep later in the day. After the tiger experience, we were introduced to a beautiful Serval cat native to sub-Saharan Africa and a Tawney Frogmouth, a bird native to Australia and Tasmania by trainers in the Animal Encounters program.
We then had to choose what we could see in our visit because the park is so large (the total, though not all accessible to the public, is 1,800 acres) before it got too hot; so we headed off to catch the bird show on the other side of the park as it is always a favorite with children. Along the way we stopped to play in the children's playground, ride the carousel, walk through the bird aviary, visit the flamingos, cranes and ducks in the lagoons and enjoy the botanical gardens in the mist. We visited the playful gorillas (the girls loved the baby gorilla on its mother's back) and we finished the morning with lunch. After lunch, we watched a most entertaining bird show with birds swooping down over our heads in amazing feats and then we headed for the entrance and home. We were TIRED: four and one half hours was enough for a 4 year old and 7 year old and their grandmother as well!
San Diego Global reaches around the world with more than 100 conservation projects in 35 countries. Some of their unending efforts in wildlife conservation and rehabilitation are amazing. The Safari Park has the world's most successful breeding program for the endangered Southern White Rhinos, has saved the California Condor from extinction and reinforced them to the wild and has worked with China to expand the panda population at their Wolong breeding center from 25 bears to more than 100. Through the "natural environment setting" of the Safari Park, children like my grandchildren can see, learn about, appreciate and value wildlife that they might never be able to see in the wild. It is one of my favorite places to visit; I feel that we are fortunate to have it and I love introducing it to my grandchildren.