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San Diego: Play days at the zoo let visitors meet the meerkats, among others

March 09, 2011|By Terry Gardner | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Meerkats at the San Diego Zoo
Meerkats at the San Diego Zoo (Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo. )

Who loves treats and new toys more than kids?  Sea lions, tigers and bears, and more.

During play days at the San Diego Zoo from April 2-24, guests can choose from 23 different animal experiences daily, including keeper talks and opportunities to meet animals up close.

Bonobos, called pygmy chimpanzees, will slurp Popsicles, macaws will soar and pigeons will race.  Guests can also meet the zoo’s new baby hippo, Adhama, born Jan. 26.

Play day activities will be posted on the zoo’s website prior to April 2 (once the list goes live, you’ll be able to click on “Play Days” on the zoo’s home page and see the activities.) Highlights will include:

Polar Bear Plunge:  The polar bears will receive a treat or a toy (usually a polar bear-proof ball) or will interact with the keepers.  At the Experience Wall, keepers will open the large glass panels and interact with the bears through the wire mesh. The polar bears will demonstrate behaviors that help the zoo staff care for them, including standing upright for a belly and paw inspection.   

Meerkat cricket/mealworm feed:  A few guests (chosen by the animal care staff) will hand out crickets or mealworms to the meerkats.  Meerkat feedings will also occur once daily at the Urban Jungle and the Kopje exhibits.

Cat Play at Elephant Odyssey:  Trainers will work with the big cats (lions or jaguar) to demonstrate their learned behaviors that enable the staff to take care of them (including lying down, sitting, standing, etc).

Cost:  $40, adults and kids 12+; $30, children (11 and under). Most play day activities are free with zoo admission, but the giraffe feed (which runs Thurs.-Sun.) costs $5 for three biscuits.

Info:  San Diego Zoo, 2920 Zoo Drive in Balboa Park, (619) 231-1515.

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