TRAVEL TALES : IT'S A PARTY AT THE ANIMAL HOUSE.
You belong in the zoo, the San Diego Zoo - especially now, as the famed animal collection celebrates its 80th anniversary.
To mark the milestone, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil 15 endangered species stamps in a first day of issue ceremony at the zoo Oct. 2, the founding date of the Zoological Society in 1916. The stamp series features North American endangered species, including the California condor, Florida panther, American crocodile, thick-billed parrot and black-footed ferret.
And the San Diego Zoo's sister collection - the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, founded five days after the San Diego institution - will help celebrate.
``We're going to have an animal exchange and staff exchange over the next few years to share all we've learned,'' said Georgeanne Irvine, zoo spokeswoman.
But the real fun at the zoo is watching the animals, especially Shi Shi and Bai Yun, a male and a female giant panda on loan from China. The two arrived earlier this month and, after a settling-in period, will go on display in about two weeks in an expanded, $3 million exhibit area, zoo officials say.
The pandas are expected to be in San Diego 12 years for a breeding research project monitored by a Sino-American scientific research team.
The zoo is also still showing off its two newest exhibits: Polar Bear Plunge, a new polar bear habitat that premiered this summer, and Hippo Beach, which debuted last year. Both habitats allow zoogoers to see the animals in near-natural habitats - and to watch their underwater antics through thick sheets of glass that form one side of their swimming tanks.
``The animals can swim underwater or walk halfway in and halfway out of the water and act like submarines,'' Irvine said. ``They interact with the people watching them, and it's hilarious.''
After one of the zoo's polar bears died a few weeks ago, zoo officials worried that the animals' new habitat - where bears can catch their own fish to eat - may have contributed to the death, Irvine said.
But tests showed that the bear died of acute liver disease and lung cancer, both previously undetected and both complicated by the bear's old age, she said.
Both exhibits are among the most popular for zoo visitors, Irvine said.
For first-time visitors, the best way to see the zoo, which sprawls over more than 100 acres, is on a guided tour, zoo officials say. A 35-minute bus tour meanders through miles of winding roads, through canyons and up mesas, while driver guides relate interesting facts about the animals seen along the route. The open-sided, double-decker buses leave the zoo station every few minutes for the three-mile trip.
New at the zoo are Kangaroo bus tours, which follow the regular bus route, but allow visitors to hop on and off the bus all day long at eight different stops.
The zoo also offers Spanish-language bus tours at noon daily.
For an aerial perspective, visitors can take the Skyfari cable lifts from one side of the zoo to the other on a one-third-of-a-mile ride across the treetops from the Reptile House to Horn and Hoof Mesa. From the air, zoogoers can get panoramic views of Balboa Park, downtown San Diego and its harbor, as well as zoo exhibits that include Hippo Beach and Monkey Mesa, with its Scripps Flight Aviary and Gorilla Tropics.
For the kids, the Children's Zoo features open-moated enclosures, walk-through bird aviaries, two baby animal nurseries and a petting paddock where kids can meet and pet sheep, goats and potbellied pigs. Zookeepers also do animal shows throughout the day featuring meerkats, anteaters, macaws, falcons and desert tortoises.
The zoo now has more than 4,000 animals from more than 800 species. But it originated with a handful of animals left in Balboa Park at the close of the 1915-16 Panama-California International Exposition. The zoo has been at its present site since 1922.
Lions, tigers, bears for free
The San Diego Zoo is off Park Boulevard in Balboa Park; visitors are admitted 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with the park closing at 6 p.m.
During October, all children age 11 and younger will be admitted to the zoo free. On Oct. 7, adults and children will be admitted free to mark the zoo's Founder's Day.
All other times, admission is $15 for adults, $6 for children ages 3-11; kids under 2 are free. Admission plus a bus tour costs $19 for adults, $9 for kids. Admission plus a 35-minute bus tour and a ride on the Skyfari tramway costs $21 for adults, $11 for kids. Thirty-five minute bus tours given in Spanish cost $4 for adults, $3 for kids.
Kangaroo tours, which let visitors hop off and on zoo bus tours throughout the day, cost $8 for adults, $5 for kids.
Zoogoers also can explore on self-guided tours with hand-held listening devices that provide more information about zoo animals. Rental is $4 per person.
For more information on the zoo, call (619) 231-1515. For updated tour and admission information, call (619) 685-3264.
2 Photos, Box
Photo: (1) Bears swim and catch their own fish in P olar Bear Plunge, one of the San Diego Zoo's newest attractions.
(2) Furry-faced Bai Yun is one of the zoo's most popular residents.
Box: Lions, tigers, bears for free (See Text)
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||L.A. LIFE|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 27, 1996|
|Previous Article:||HART WANTS BACK ON TRACK : TOP-RANKED WESTLAKE WARY OF MATCHUP AGAINST `HUNGRY' INDIANS.|
|Next Article:||FROSH-SOPH SPOTLIGHT.|