The night we spent at Great Wolf Lodge was fantastic. It's always refreshing to be around folks where you pick up right where you left off - despite the years passing.
This time, we headed further south to spend 2 nights with my family in Southern California. We kept the evening simple with a sushi dinner to catch up with my mom and brother. After a good night's rest, we were ready for a day outside.
As a special treat, my mother offered to take us to the San Deigo Safari Park and take us on a jeep safari through the open savanna there. The Savanna is truly what makes this place stand out among zoos. (Well, that and a robust rhino and condor breeding program.)
I grew up in Escondido, so it'll always be the Wild Animal Park to me, but I loved seeing all of the improvements and expansion this park has made since my childhood.
It's very different than a typical zoo - mainly because of its wide open savanna and large open air exhibits. There is no traffic noise these animals have to contend with, and the staff is top notch as well. The savanna includes hoof stock and herbivores from around the world. Their have had a special emphasis on breeding programs have aided in keeping condors, rhinos and other species on the map. All of that, and it offers all of the things typical zoos do as well. While zoos are a problematic attraction in the world, people tend to not care about things they don't experience - including animals. For example, carved ivory is beautiful - but so are rhinos and elephants. But if you've never really seen an elephant or rhino up close - but you've seen a lot of beautifully carved ivory - are you really going to care much about the plight of those creatures? For most, the answer is saddly "No". Just as we often don't think about where our food comes from. (This is NOT be advocating. Just bringing awareness.)
Anyway - I digress.
The weather cooperated to a lovely 70 degrees and sunny. It was a great way to get some energy out and go see some new creatures we don't get to see in the Pacific Northwest.
To get an idea of what a trip through the savanna might look like, check out this live cam (and other live cams).