02 June, 2011

One Day at San Diego ZOoo.....

I was told many times by my colleagues, “You should visit the world famous San Diego zoo”. If it world famous then I should definitely visit it.

Ok then, I convinced two other colleagues who came to San Diego with me to come to the zoo on the weekend. On Saturday early morning we reached the zoo by 11’o clock in the morning. As we don’t have cars we have to rely on the public transport. Sadly from the area we put up (Ranch Bernardo), there is only one bus to downtown, that too once in an hour. Not impressive for a city that has a world famous zoo. Having visited so many zoos (Mysore zoo in India is my favorite. You got to see it to appreciate how the animals are displayed without bars or mesh or glass), I was a reluctant to see any zoo, but was having very high expectations. So it’s time to explore…

As soon as I came to this city, I found that things here are ridiculously pricy. I was expecting such a surprise and here it comes- “One day ticket is 45$ and food is not allowed”, we were told by a lady assisting people. My heart dropped. “That’s too much of money for any kind of zoo man. How come it’s that expensive?”, I stopped arguing myself when one of my colleagues bought tickets for 3 of us. 

We entered the zoo. I was keenly looking at the map, to find if I can find some good places to photograph. My first impression is – this zoo is very big and we can’t see all in one day.
Ok. Let’s go to the bus ride to know the zoo better. By the time we finished that bus tour, seeing all caged animals, with no possibility to photograph them, I got very much disappointed. I can only see tigers, lions and some other animals but can’t photograph them. What a zoo…

We got down from the bus. As my colleagues are crazily photographing the animals and cages/mesh together I was keenly looking for free birds roaming on the trees in the zoo. I found some small birds and was able to take some impressive photographs of them. Having a feeling that 45$ is not worth spending on this, I decided to take it easy and roam around the zoo, photograph whatever is not behind the mesh and just see and enjoy if I can. Finally I found a bird enclosure where the birds are free inside and we can move closely with the birds. When I entered the enclosure I found more photogs than the birds having those big big lenses on tripods and firing shots. I was surprised that the birds were not paying any attention to these shutter sounds. They got used to it. When I came out of the enclosure I was feeling happy. I enjoyed the beauty of the setup and taken portraits of these colorful birds.

Rest of the story is agony – the food inside the zoo is crazily expensive, one coke costs 5$, the animals are behind thick meshes, not even a super telephoto lens can hide it in the photo, the area is so big, our legs got fatigued by the end of the day. By 5’0 clock we felt that the time is not worth spending around cages and meshes. So we returned. 

To be frank, the zoo is not terrible. There big collection of species to see, but it is only to see, not for photography. The environment is good, you can see lot of birds, some are free birds, you got to see some very rare animals, the ones you can’t find in the wild that often as of now. So my experience is mixed. Do I go again? Not really worth.  See some of the photos I tool in the zoo.

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