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WITH THE KIDS

The Short Set: The Zoo Crew

December 27, 2007

Winter break is a great time to take the kids to the zoo -- the San Diego Zoo. For most of us, that's a long day and it can set a family of four back $110 just for admission. But our relatively junior-sized Los Angeles Zoo has come a long way, and it's a bargain, especially with the $75 family membership.

The new Campo Gorilla Reserve (pictured) is a multilevel stage for the big apes to strut their bipedality. They generally nap around noon, but by late afternoon they're active. At the lions' den, Nipper saw the lounging king of the jungle and asked, "Why isn't he roaring? Maybe he has nothing to roar about." The large chimp area has concrete bleachers, making it a popular location to eat your packed lunch in the shade. (I was relieved Nipper didn't ask about the pink blobs hanging off the chimps' rear ends.) And the Winnick Family Children's Zoo, Riordan Kids Korner and playground are perfect places for little ones to work off those ice-cream sandwiches.

Though the L.A. Zoo doesn't have a full menagerie, when the kids are under 10, the greatest hits of the animal kingdom are just fine. True, they don't get to see a flame-faced baboon chuck his poop at them, but that experience can wait for another day.

-- YoMama@latimes.com

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