Wednesday, October 14, 2009

If you liked the last one, you'll like this half as much

Back in 2008 is when I started my "race a month" craze. As the month of October approached, I hadn't found a race that interested me yet - until a 5K caught my eye. It was a 5k through the San Diego Zoo! Only one of my favorite places in the country.

When the starting gun went off, so I did I. Only I noticed I was the only one...well, except for a group of 2 or 3 small boys under the age of 10. Turns out I missed the fine print on this one. The 5k was a walk and not a run. The volunteers weren't too sure what was going on and kept sending me on loops around the park, so that, by the time I finished, I had actually run 7k....and was still the first person to complete the course (well, except for those boys). As I ran by the animals in an empty park I knew I'd want to come back and do it again - but slower, so I could take advantage of it.

So last weekend, Thatmom, Thatbrother, and UDubb headed down to San Diego to walk the 5k with Thatboy and I.

Throughout the course there are various performers. Thatmom was NOT impressed with these little Disney-star wannabes.
Align Center

And these stilt walkers always scare the crap out of me.

One of my favorite parts of the 5k is that some of the animals come out to play. Last year I slowed my roll when I approached this guy. I asked his handler if it was okay to run by him, because I know Thatdog would take chase. She assured me I'd be fine. This year we stopped and got a nice up close look at this grey wolf.

Each year the 5k is a fundraiser for some resident of the zoo. This year, the walk was to raise money for the polar bear. As if he knew, he put on quite a show for all of us walkers. When we approached his tank he was looking for something stuck under water in the rocks.

He was trying his hardest to get it out.

Finally he got it out! What was worth all this trouble? A big blue ball!

He pulled it out and got cheers from the crowd. And then? Well he put it right back where he got it - wedged between the rocks. We couldn't tell if he was hiding it, or preparing for his next show.

The animals are very active in the morning, and because the zoo isn't open to the public, you get front row seats to all the exhibits.

I have a thing for animals in pools of water.

I love the new Elephant Odyssey - the result of last year's walk. Mr. and Mrs. Lion were in rare form that morning, mugging for the crowds.

These guys raced with me last year in their old, smaller enclosure. This year they just kind of stared at the crazy humans.

This jaguar was brought from her enclosure out to a more open area so we could get nice and close. She moves crazy fast. Most of my pictures of her from previous visits are just a blur.

And of course, the stars of the Elephant Odyssey.

These tapirs had noses that were going crazy! Like elephant trunks they seemed to have a mind of their own. The guy in the back had a message for all us walkers.

Normally, I'm the object of Thatboy's craziness. It was nice to be the observer for once. You can see Thatmom appreciates it as much as I do.

Thatbrother and UDubb also took some time for picture ops.

Another animal ambassador was this hawk. Not as exciting as the wolf.

I love the peacocks roaming the park. This guy did not have time to stop. Thatbrother said he appeared to be on his way somewhere important. We figured he must be on the board of directors for the zoo.

This is the New Guinea Singing Dog. We decided he looked like Thatdog and attempted to get him to sing by singing him "In the Jungle." He stared at us as though we were nuts, but didn't sing back. We thought maybe he was called a singing dog because people sing to him. Thus began Thatboy and my attempt to sing to every animal in the park.

It was WAY too early for the rhinos. I know how they feel.

I never really loved giraffes before moving to San Diego, but I love our giraffes at the zoo and Wild Animal Park. They have SUCH personality.

We finished the walk and headed out to the booths to pick up our goodies. This walk has some of the best! Italian ices, cold beverages, chips - AND a backpack full of fun stuff including $15 off coupons to 20 different restaurants. Which I'm really excited about because there are quite a few restaurants that I want to try.

I casually mentioned to Thatboy that I thought the cheetah was about to be brought to the stage and he disappeared. Dashed across the lawn to get a good view.

There were also these crazy acrobatic aerialists.

Thatboy couldn't wait to try himself. He spun around on this thing a couple times, which was pretty impressive.

Then, because we had free admission to return, we headed back into the zoo to hit up any animals that weren't on the course.

I love this little wombat. I wanted to name him football and smuggle him home with me.

I've been to the zoo about a million times. And I've never seen these koalas do anything but sleep.

I'm so sad there's no giant kangaroos at the zoo, but this little tree kangaroo is pretty cute.

And we all know about my favorite zoo residents:

Because it was early, our little boy panda was up and "active." Well, as active as Pandas get.

His little sister wasn't quite ready to greet the day yet. How does she not fall?

Almost as cool as the Carmel otters - hi buddy!

This orangutan looked so pensive. Thatboy and I started singing to him "Put on a happy face." He looked over at us, smiled, and then back across the ravine.

Our last stop was the petting zoo. So we could touch SOMETHING. Thatboy made a new friend.

The zoo 5k is one of my favorite San Diego events. And even if it's not really a "run" it's definitely my favorite race of the year.


  1. he's like the goat whisperer :)

  2. Nice pics! Looks like one awesome zoo!

  3. I bet that polar bear was putting the ball back for his next performance. I used to spend hours at that enclosure and those bears LOVE to show off. They know they're cute and they milk it for all its worth!

    Great post!

  4. Great pics and story! I love zoos. My mom is a docent at the Columbus Zoo and we've (well she's--I don't live there so I piggyback off of her) been members for basically my entire life. We actually (shockingly) do not have giraffes right now--I'm jealous.

  5. I think Jim and I have to do this one next year - looks so fun!

    When we were there this summer, we arrived when the trainers were cleaning and replacing the food in the koala exhibit and they were pretty active! It was the first time I had seen a couple of them actually move from one tree perch to another.

  6. It has been years since I hit the zoo...I love the owls and sea life the best.

  7. I've been dieing to go to the SD zoo - I hear it's the best everywhere. Love the pictures - and so love the panda bear - how cute is he?

  8. I really enjoyed this post! Looks like a great time was had by all for a great cause.

  9. What a great post about the zoo! Thanks for all the pictures. So many cute animals!

  10. Oooh. Running / walking through the zoo before it's open sounds like so much fun!