Giraffes are fun to feed One of our semi-wild adventures at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

In early March Laurel and I spent an enjoyable day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido. We went there after visiting my daughter, Celeste, and her family in Laguna Niguel, a ways north in Orange County. Granddaughter Evelyn helped warm us up for our Safari Park experience by showing how their own fierce feline creature -- Boo -- had been tamed to walk on a leash. (scroll down...)

Boo, stalking... something or other

Scaling up in animal size considerably, a few days later we bravely fed leaves to giraffes from the back of a Safari Park Caravan Tour truck. Here's a breathtaking (depending on how you breathe) short video of us doing the giraffe'y deed.

It's difficult to take a bad giraffe photo, given how unique these animals are. Here's my favorites.

Ah, SO CUTE! Makes me want to give this giraffe a big wet kiss. But their tongues are freaking long. Probably not a good idea. As our tour guide told us, "If you think of something cute to do while feeding a giraffe, stop thinking that thought." Meaning, they are big and potentially dangerous.

Very expressive. Gorgeous pose.

What struck me the most was, giraffes are BIG. We were told that they mostly fight by swinging their necks, not by kicking or biting. Totally believable. This is one strong neck.

When the big male giraffe walked by, his bigness was obvious from the back of a large truck whose bed was quite a ways off the ground.

I liked how the tour truck driver made no attempt to get the giraffes in the middle of the road to do anything other than what they wanted to do: walk in the middle of the road. Eventually they moved off to the side.

After feeding the giraffes, our Caravan Tour took us by other animals roaming around. My camera's powerful zoom came in handy, as the animals often were doing their thing a considerable distance away.

A mother rhinoceros with her not-so-little baby.

I assume the Safari Park feeds the rhinos. A lot. Browsing this short grass doesn't seem like it would do much to fill a rhino stomach.

Here's a... something or other. Um, gazelle?

Oh, I've watched enough Disney movies to know what this is: a Wildebeest! (I'm pretty sure.)

Um... gazelles? (That's my fall-back guess for any smallish furry animal with horns.)

Let's just say this is an animal with horns. I don't want to make any more wrong gazelle guesses.

Water buffalo. We were told they can be mean. This helps explain why our guides were adamant about us using the restroom before the 2-hour tour started, since we weren't going to be able to jump out of the truck and take a leak.

This deer-like creature (I'm so good with animal names) was really far away, sitting against a wall at the edge of the fenced enclosure. Great job, my trusty Panasonic Lumix camera with 30 X optical zoom and stabilization.

Back at the Safari Park, after our Caravan tour, we wandered through most of the "regular" exhibits. Enjoyable, but seeing animals in the semi-wild via the tour was the highpoint of our visit.

"What are you thinking?" That was my thought when I saw this gorilla. He/she certainly is a lot like us humans, since we are closely related by evolution. Putting these animals in enclosures doesn't really seem right, though I understand the motivation.

A recycling bird, showing one of the tricks that a trainer has taught it.

Pink flamingos.

Laurel feeding a couple of Lorakeets some nectar. (Four dollar nectar, but it was worth it to have the birds sit on our arms.)

We heard a loud lion roar while we were on the Caravan Tour. Definitely grabs your attention. Could have been this guy, before he took an afternoon nap.

More lions, semi-awake.

I loved the look of the bamboo lining the path to the tiger exhibit.

It was cool to see a tiger. But again, viewing an animal through a fence sure wasn't as enjoyable as seeing them roam freely.

Walking out of the tiger area, the setting afternoon sun made the bamboo even more beautiful.

So that's a wrap on our San Diego Zoo Safari Park visit. We stayed at an oceanside place in Carlsbad, California, where we enjoyed some warm weather walks on the beach. Meanwhile, there was March snow back in Salem, Oregon, where we live. Good timing for our California trip.

Sea gulls over Carlsbad beach
Brian and Laurel on Carlsbad beach
Created By
Brian Hines
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