We all know that the Zoo is huge! There are lots of people moving about and lots of animals to see. It seems like it’s almost impossible to see the entire Zoo in one day and see all of your favorite animals. Of course, the San Diego Zoo realizes this and has set up a bus tour system so you can see all of your favorite animals and more!
The bus tour starts from the loading dock, which is near the entrance of the Zoo. The bus is a double decker, and passengers can choose to sit either on the bottom or the top (with a nice view, I might add) and it can hold 104 passengers. The bus then goes through Tiger River, where you can see plants and animals from Southeast Asia, then goes through Ituri Forest, which is modeled after the central African rain forest (of the same name). From Ituri Forest, it goes through Panda Canyon (my favorite part of the tour), and then Bear Canyon. After looking at the bears in Bear Canyon, the bus goes up through Camel Road to the outskirts of Elephant Odyssey (which is under construction and is scheduled to be open in the Spring of 2009). After you see the construction site of Elephant Odyssey, the bus goes down into Cat Canyon where you can see nature’s big cats such as the Siberian lynx (which are featured on Animal Planet’s Growing Up Lynx). Last but not least, the bus goes to Elephant Mesa, where you can see three elephants and two Indian rhinos.
The bus was a great opportunity for me and the other interns to see about 70 percent of the Zoo in half the time it would have taken to see it on foot. During the bus tour we got to see everything from the giraffes to meerkats. The driver, Rachel Gould, (who also acted as the guide for the tour) was extremely helpful during the tour. She pointed out all of the animals that we saw on the tour (like the bears and the otters) and told us interesting facts about them. She also made sure that we got to stop at prime locations to see the Zoo’s most featured animals, like the tigers and the pandas.
To me, the bus tour was the best way to see my favorite animals and find new favorites, thanks to the extensive knowledge of the tour guide. Since you can see so much of the Zoo with the bus tours, it’s easy to forget just how big the Zoo really is because you see so many animals. It’s nice though, because while you’re on the tour you can see all of your favorite animals and more and remember where they are so you can go back and spend more time with them later. For example, when the bus tour went through Ituri forest, I saw the spot-necked otters, the okapis, and the river hippos. Well, I just fell in love with the river hippos, and even though the tour had to move on, I remembered that I could go back to my beloved hippos but would still have the satisfaction of knowing that I had seen all of the other exciting animals at the Zoo.
The Tour is about 35 to 40 minutes long and is a great way to see the most of the animal collection that the Zoo has to offer. The Guided Bus Tour also offers seating for those who are disabled as well as a shuttle service. Your bus ticket also gives you the privilege of the Express Bus, where you get on and off at certain points of the Zoo and see your beloved hippos!
Laura is a high school intern at the San Diego Zoo.