Thursday, July 5, 2012

Our long awaited walk with the reptiles at San Diego Zoo

When most people think of the 4th of the July, they think of BBQ's, picnics, homemade desserts and fireworks with friends and family. Well, we spent the 4th a little differently this year. Still with friends and family, just not the human kind.

After what seemed like a year of construction, the San Diego Zoo had its grand opening of the new Reptile Walk on July 4, 2012 - we had to be there. Dylan and I had both missed seeing the frogs and especially the Galapagos tortoises. The new long awaited Reptile Walk is amazing and definitely worth the wait.

Still located behind the Reptile House, the Reptile Walk is a beautiful stroll down planked pathways that are lined with trees and lush landscaping.

Once  through the entrance, you enter the first building which houses the amphibians and California native species.

The new open-air design allows for better public viewing and the enclosures are much bigger. You still have to look around to find those tiny frogs, but the glass is now a good 4-5 times larger than before. Here you will see poison dart frogs, tree frogs, mossy frogs, king snakes, giant horned lizards, a green tree boa, and more. 

I'm not sure if it was the new habitats or if it was too early in the morning (9 a.m.), but there were about five animals that we couldn't find in their enclosures. We did go back at night and see a few more, but then it was too dark for pictures.

Next, another pathway takes you to the new Chinese Alligators. These reptiles are critically endangered and most now live only in breeding centers like the San Diego Zoo.

One of things I love most about the San Diego Zoo is the informative signs throughout the zoo like this one. Every trip is a learning experience for me and Dylan.

The landscaping is so nice that I could sit here for hours - It's so quiet and peaceful.

However, Dylan was ready for the next building so it was on to the turtles. To sum this building up in one word ... Wow! Talk about spending some time and observing the animals - this is the place to do it.

Filled with aquatic turtles like the Mata Mata, South American Snake-necked, and Red-headed River turtle there is always something to look at. Sometimes they are swimming along playfully and other times they are crawling on top of each other. In my case, there was a bit of photo bombing going on and I didn't get the pictures I wanted. Oh well, just means I have to go back sooner than later.

Now it is back to a familiar Reptile Mesa with a Jurassic Croc skeleton, Johnston's crocodiles, lizards, iguanas, and yes - the Galapagos tortoises!

Exuma Island Iguana
Sadly, the entire population of this subspecies inhabits less than 39 square miles of habitat. 

So far so good huh? Well wait, it gets better because I saved the best for last ...

Meet Penelope, a beautiful Galapagos tortoise that was super friendly. If I didn't know better, I would say that she was just as happy to see us as we were to see her.

Now because this was the 4th of July, the Galapagos were in for their annual treat of watermelon - and we were in for an even bigger treat - watching them eat it.

 Somebody get Augustus a napkin.

Penelope ate her watermelon with a little more dignity. 

So there you have it. Reptile Walk is officially open to the public and I highly recommend spending some time here. We spent a little over an hour walking through the exhibits and then went back again at night for one more look. Seeing the animals at night is an experience like no other because the ones that are sleeping during the day are active at night - a major benefit of Nighttime Zoo - but that's for another post. 

When will you be taking a walk with the reptiles?


  1. Hey Michelle!
    Great photos once again, and a nice review as well. Looks like you and Dylan had a wonderful time hangin' with the reptiles and amphibians. I snuck over to the exhibit this afternoon (I forgot how tough it is to find a parking spot in the middle of the day!) and took some photos.

    Yes, most of the frogs are pretty elusive. Is the zoo just messing with us and leaving some of the enclosures empty? Hopefully those shy frogs will come out of their shells eventually -- unlike the turtles, who are stuck with their shell. Anyway, it gives me reason to go back to the zoo :)
    See ya at the zoo! Ion

    1. Thanks Ion. We need a reason to go to the zoo? haha

  2. Thanks for the wonderful tour! And the photos are great, too! I will have to check it out soon. Of course, that means pulling myself away from the little jaguar cubbies! I will definitely be taking a walk with the reptiles!

    1. As long as you don't pull yourself away from them too long Penny. ;)