(This is part of a series, Blogging from A to Z April 2014 Challenge.
My theme for the challenge is Quintessential San Diego from A to Z, focusing on those things that are  typical, or perfect, or classic examples of San Diego life. Today is our last one, Z!)

What could possibly be more Quintessential San Diego than the San Diego Zoo?

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Baby Elephant, Stuck!
Photo by Penny Hyde

The San Diego Zoo was founded in 1916. It is in Balboa Park, next to downtown San Diego. The Zoo is home to more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals representing approximately 660 species and subspecies. Spreading over 100 acres (40 hectares), the zoo also houses over 700,000 exotic plants. The San Diego Zoo is a delight to visit, as you are walking through a lovely, huge botanical garden, that also happens to be full of animals.

But besides the entertainment value, the Mission Statement says:

San Diego Zoo Global is committed to saving species worldwide by uniting our expertise in animal care and conservation science with our dedication to inspiring passion for nature.

So visitors to the zoo benefit from both viewing and learning about the wonderful animals, while helping to preserve these endangered animals.

Some of our favorite animals at the zoo are the koalas. San Diego has the largest collection of koalas outside of Australia. The first ones came to the zoo in 1925. Since then the San Diego Zoo has successfully bred koalas, and even sent some to other zoos through their Koala Loan Program. 

Koalas’ natural food is eucalyptus, which grow well in San Diego’s mild climate. Apparently, they are picky and so the koala keepers offer several different varieties of eucalyptus branches to the koalas, and they choose which one they want to eat that day. The zoo has its own browse farm, where they grow and harvest fresh eucalyptus for the koalas to eat each day.

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Koala Mother and Her Joey
Photo by Penny Hyde

A big ‘thank you’ to Penny Hyde for her amazing pictures. Her love for the animals shines through.

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Jaguar Cub Asleep in Tree
Photo by Penny Hyde

Many families in the San Diego and southern California area find investing in a Zoo membership is a great bargain. For the price of two admissions, you can visit both the Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park all year long.

We love to take our grandkiddos to the Zoo. Here’s a post about a recent outing.