Have you been to the San Diego Zoo? It’s the best zoo in Southern California, in my opinion. And with some new exhibits opening this summer, it’s bound to be even better!
When you think of animals from Africa, you think of lions, and elephants, and antelope, right? Well, there’s SO MUCH MORE! Like, for example, did you know Africa has penguins?!? The San Diego Zoo’s new Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks highlights some of Africa’s most extraordinary species, as you wander through six different habitats from savanna to seashore. This expansive, multi-species tribute to African wildlife has transformed what was the steep grade and 1930s-era exhibits of Cat Canyon into an easily accessible, gently winding pathway with state-of-the-art homes for animals and garden spaces for plants. Here you will go from habitat to habitat, learning more about some of the unexpected Africa’s creatures.
Here are descriptions of each habitat:
These boulder-strewn islands in grassland savanna are home for a variety of animals that live their lives among the rocks, including meerkats, hyraxes, and klipspringer antelope.
o Ethiopian Highlands
This rugged mountain habitat is made up of craggy, granite peaks and plateaus. The unique species adapted to this environment include Hamadryas baboons, geladas, and Nubian ibex.
o Acacia Woodland
This open woodland habitat features shrubs and grasses among thorn-bearing acacia trees. Leopards prowl here, vervet monkeys chatter in large family groups, and a colorful bevy of birds flit and nest among the branches in a huge walk-through aviary.
o Madagascar Forest
Madagascar’s forests are among the world’s most distinctive, with dramatic limestone formations and spiny dry forest plants. This is home to species found nowhere else on Earth, including the extraordinary tree-leaping lemurs.
o West African Forest
The dense, tropical forests of western Africa get up to 80 inches of rain each year, creating waterfalls, streams, and pools for fish and the dwarf crocodiles that eat them.
o Cape Fynbos
The fynbos along South Africa’s rocky coastline sets the stage for unusual species, including the weird and beautiful protea plants, small sharks that swim among the reefs, and the adorable, warm-weather African penguins.
The exhibit also features the spectacular 65-foot Rady Falls, which is the largest man-made waterfall in San Diego at nearly 7 stories high! You can even walk behind the falling water via a cavern-like grotto. The water is recycled and recirculated for a water-wise feature.
Honestly I’m most excited about the penguins, but they are my favorite animals to watch at any zoo or aquarium. Penguin Beach in Cape Fynbos brings a large colony of penguins back to the Zoo for the first time in 35 years. These warm-weather penguins will be swimming and diving in their 275,000-gallon pool, and visitors can watch from above the water or from below via the large underwater viewing window. They share the pool with leopard sharks cruising through the water, but don’t worry, they don’t eat penguins! Because African penguins are endangered, this is also a breeding colony, and the birds will be nesting and eventually raising chicks. So a visit to the San Diego Zoo is not only a fun way to spend the day, but you’re helping to protect and grow species that are endangered.
Watch this video to learn more about Africa Rocks!
Exhibits will be opening throughout the summer – be sure to visit the San Diego Zoo website to check for dates!
Are you planning a trip to San Diego this year? Be sure to spend a day at the San Diego Zoo! And say hi to the penguins for me!