San Francisco Zoo

I’m ambivalent about zoos. I feel sorry for the caged animals, while recognizing that a well-run zoo contributes to species preservation. Perhaps the biggest benefit a good zoo provides is education about biodiversity, and these lessons are targeted to just the audience who can make a difference: children.

It seems that San Francisco Zoo makes such a difference more often than not, particularly in recent years which have seen significant investment in enclosure size and design. I recall visiting done years ago, and seeing a Grizzly relegated to a space hardly larger than my front yard – this was a pitiful state for a large animal with a large natural range.

No such sadness accompanied our visit yesterday. The bears had large spaces, the meerkats plenty of ground along with a good vantage point for guarding their terrain, and evidence of improvements either in progress or already completed abounded.

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One delightful surprise for me was visiting the farm animals section of the children’s zoo. Though having visited the zoo numerous times, I’d never wandered into this section, and I quite enjoyed the opportunity to interact respectfully with domesticated livestock. I was pleased that there were no cows about, too – I harbor a terror of those large, lumbering creatures!

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The weather was perfect San Francisco: fogged-in coast and appropriate for a heavy sweater or light jacket. The beach, a short hop from the zoo parking lot, looked tempting and not for the first time did I wish to have a pied-a-terre right across the street.

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