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We try not to gush, but the San Diego Zoo really is a spectacular must-see for anyone who enjoys animals or gardens. The gardens part certainly isn't trivial, since in monetary terms the value of the Zoo's animal collection is actually exceeded by their botanical holdings. But if you're visiting, it's to see the animals, and at that point things like financial value become kind of secondary.
There are certainly the requisite lions and tigers and bears. And there are also monkeys and pandas and giraffes and meerkats and camels and leopards and orangutans and gorillas and animals you've never even heard of. Few parks on the planet can rival San Diego's exhibits either in amount or variety. The recently completed Elephant Odyssey tripled the size of the zoo's elephant enclosure and added space for two lions, a jaguar, horses, snakes, and myriad other creatures, plus a huge California condor exhibit. The new construction even leveled off the walk to the very top, taking the uphill trip to the polar bears who live up there and transforming it from "please god take me now" to "wow this is really neat." We recommend checking it our virtually, even if you are planning to go physically.
[Photo: San Diego Zoo Facebook]