I think I might have a love/hate relationship with zoos. But perhaps today is not a great day to decide.

In the planning, I recall them as a great destination for children, with so much to see and do, no lines to wait in, and a relaxing stroll through manufactured nature.  The only issue I have with zoos is that I typically stay one hour too long, and then it somehow takes two hours to leave.

We ventured to the San Diego Zoo yesterday. It’s a must-see, and it’s really unacceptable to be within range of some of the rarest, most exotic animals in the world, and not at least pay them a visit.

We rode the double decker bus that gave us a round trip tour, a view of 70% of the zoo. If you enjoy hearing your own voice and find yourself to be distractingly funny, you should look into a job as a zoo bus driver. Leslie was our driver, and while she gave us information on each exhibit we passed, she continued to refer to herself in third person.

“And so you might ask me, Leslie, because that’s my name, Leslie, how do the hippos keep from getting sunburnt with their oh-so-sensitive skin? Well, the hippos ooze a red, oily secretion that penetrates their skin to protect them from the sun.”

Did you hear that? She used so many of the words that make me cringe: Ooze. Secretion. Penetrate. Oily. (I have a list.)

She was only missing the words Moist, Wound, Slice, and Ointment, and Panties. And honestly, if she had worked those in, I might have done a high dive right off the second deck of the bus and into the flamingo pool.

I do love flamingos. Their backward knees, their long necks, their elegance, and the sheer beauty of the word ‘flamingo.’

We visited the panda bears, or actually one panda bear. The two momma bears were in an inexplicable, perhaps hormonal, mood that day and they would not be moved from their comfy woman-caves.

This is what Jenny the Zoologist told us through her personal microphone: the Mommas were having a PMS day, and just like you should give a woman some space on such a day, the same is true of bears. Because in addition to the hormonal mood, bears also have 42 teeth, and they are also bears. So you know, leave her be.

I snapped some close up shots of the little guy who was not in such a grumpy mood. He was happy to lounge in the treetops and bask in his celebrity status.

The San Diego Zoo is shaped like a bowl, and wouldn’t you know it, the panda(s) – our last exhibit of the day – rest in the bottom of the Popcorn Bowl of Zoo. And every way out is up. And apparently, I’m worthless with a picture map.

Kudos to the San Diego Zoo for having an ascending escalator in the middle of the jungle. It’s the only way we survived to see another day.

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