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There are subtle ways and not-so-subtle ways to attract travelers. Some places - say, Mexico - struggle with image problems, and before they can pitch anything fun they have to rebrand themselves.. Other countries and organizations have it a lot easier. Zoos, for example, can do the equivalent of waving their arms in the air and shouting: "Hey, look over here! There are cute baby things over here!"
Our beloved San Diego Zoo knows what works, which is why they kicked off the summer travel season this morning by opening up their new Conrad Prebys Australian Outback exhibit to the public. The 3 acre exhibit is meant to model what you might see in Queensland. At the entrance is a cluster of 8 to 15-foot-tall totems depicting a koala, a platypus, a crocodile, a kangaroo, a Tasmanian devil, and a kookaburra. They call it the exhibit's "welcoming committee."
It's been a while since we've written about our beloved San Diego Zoo, and even longer since we've written about it as anything but an exercise in kind of entertaining but also sort of unseemly schadenfreude. Let us remedy that with background and a video of the zoo's new baby panda making his public debut.
The toddler's name is Xiao Liwu. He first met the public last Wednesday, which is when the video below was taken. The San Diego Zoo - which is one of only four American zoos with pandas - has now had six successful panda births. That makes the park the single most successful panda breeding facility outside of China.
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Now that Hurricane Sandy is upon the East Coast and canceling flights in droves, we're dedicating today to using all our travel know-how (and some on-the-fly advice, as half the Jaunted team is stuck at airports as well) to help you ride out the storm despite delayed travel. Stay tuned and stay safe!
As Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast, those of us who are away from Jaunted's various East Coast HQ's are sending other staff members pictures of sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns (in decreasing order). It's kind of entertaining.
You can play this game too if you're stuck somewhere interesting. We actually suggest it.
Yes, we'll shortly be going to our beloved San Diego Zoo. They have a new baby panda, new baby jaguars, and new monkeys, otters, and pigs. The video of the baby panda learning to walk is embedded below, hi-res photos of the new baby jaguars are here, and the San Diego Zoo blog has your post describing the rest of the babies.
In the meantime, this is what a fall morning looks like in San Diego from our hotel room. If you look at the road you'll see the Old Town Trolley. Their site brags that San Diego is "known as 'America's Finest City,'" which sounded very suspicious to us until we saw the weather and noticed the San Diego Zoo pictures they have pasted to the back of their trolley. Persuasive!
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Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered subspecies of tiger from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. There are less than 300 of them left in the wild, and all known population clusters are in decline. So when you have a chance to see one under any circumstances you should avail yourself of the opportunity. And if that chance somehow involves seeing a bunch of baby Sumatran cubs wrestling, that should conclusively settle whether it's worth your time to go wandering around the zoo for an afternoon.
This is all by way of saying that we realize it's been almost a month since we posted about zoos, and we owe you some cute things. Herein are three different parks across two different states, each with a pair of baby Sumatran tigers. We've even included embedded videos and links to picture galleries, because it's Monday and you deserve it.
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'Tis the season for happiness and fuzziness, and there are few things happier or fuzzier than baby animals. Since we're all about enhancing holiday travel,, here are three zooseach drawn from a different region of the countrywhere you can see recently born cute things:
· Following up an adorable litter of Giant River Otters from January, the Miami Zoo announced a few weeks ago that they had two more live pups to show off. The pups are about a foot long and weigh just under a pound, and are scheduled to go on exhibit sooner rather than later. While you're at the zoo you should visit Juanpur, our favorite escaping Indian rhino.
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If you think about it, our beloved San Diego Zoo doesn't really have to be good at doing all the things they do. It's true that they have one of the more ambitious social media outreach programs we've come across from any travel or conservation-oriented organization, spanning multi-platform contests, constant tweet-ups, and even the baby panda iPad app that they announced just this morning.
And it's true that they have a whole slew of special behind-the-ropes tours and special experiences on-site for guests who want to get beyond the public exhibits, whichinasmuch as they have polar bears and pandas insideare themselves kind of awesome.
But the point is that they don't really have to do any of that, because every year the Zoo and its sister Safari Park seem to have more and more cute newborn things for guests to coo over. Given this year's crop of baby hippos, baby elephants, and baby Satanic Leaf-tailed Geckos (totally true, totally real), the two locations kind of seem to sell themselves.
We've spent plenty of time telling you how to enjoy our beloved San Diego Zoo virtually, whether via Google Maps Street View or through their PandaCam or by linking up with the Zoo's Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr accounts (all three of which, plus Foursquare, are sometimes used for the Zoo's ambitiously completionist social media contests). But there's a reason why the expression is all about having "a day at the zoo," and that's because nothing really compares to actually being there and seeing the animals.
Thus, the event planners and tour guides at the San Diego Zoo have put together a series of Special Experiences and tours for people who want to go behind the rope line and do a little bit more. We don't have the space to cover all of the myriad ways you can extend your visit, from sleepover programs inside the park to educational events geared toward children. The full range of options are listed here.
What's particularly exciting are the four Tours and Animal Interactions where anyonekids tagging along or no kids, extra morning for a sleepover or no extra morningcan get behind the scenes and interact up close with the zoo's inhabitants. Last month, we headed down to SD to check out a couple of those tours ourselves, and here's a rundown of what we found.
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Our beloved San Diego Zoo has a knack for getting attention with interesting new media stunts, but this time they've really outdone themselves. In celebration of Panda Week, during which three of the Zoo's famous Giant Pandas have birthdays, they've launched a full-blown new media campaign for fans and visitors.
Starting today there are Zoo-sponsored activities and contests across Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr, all revolving around the birthday parties, the Zoo's panda exhibit, and pandas in general.
The party animals at the San Diego Zoo are going to keep the fun going later into the night with the Nighttime Zoo program. Okay, by "late," we mean 9pm. To take advantage of San Diego's long summer days, the zoo is staying open three hours later than usual and it's offering a slate of evening-only offerings.
Aside from visiting the animal residents, the zoo will have everything from acrobats to bird shows to Calypso musicians who play while hula-hooping starting June 25 to September 6, from 3 to 9pm.
It's a huge day at our much-beloved San Diego Zoo, where they literally just opened the anticipated Polar Bear Plunge at noon. We got in a little early to take a look at the upgraded exhibit, where the Zoo's three gigantic polar bears live. First opened in 1996, it recently underwent major renovations and has now been formally relaunched. Kalluk, his sister Tatqiq, and their enclosure-mate Chinook were all out at one time or another to greet guests.
Our gallery of exclusive photos is after the jump, and we should probably mention that we took all of them from publicly accessible areas using a point-and-shoot without digital zoom. This is actually how close you get!
Polar bears and more, after the jump!
It isn't only restaurants and candy manufacturers who are capitalizing on Valentine's Day. Zoos are selling themselves as a romantic place to bring your valentine with special events that revolve around observing animal mating habits. It's like what you see on the Discovery Channel, but live and sometimes accompanied with a meal.
Check after the jump to see which zoos are getting frisky for V-Day.