The Cheetah Encounter was just starting when we got to the zoo so that show was the first thing we did. It lasted about twenty minutes and we met Dawn, a nine week old mountain lion. Three zookeepers were in a large fenced in area with the cats and they brought them out from their cages one at a time. The cats would walk freely next to the trainers and the trainers had them do tricks and things for food. We also met an African Serval which is the only cat that has both spots and stripes. The star of the show was the cheetah. A dog that was raised as a brother to the cheetah was brought in and they ran around the area together.
The Jungle Trails is an incredible section of the zoo, and definitely my favorite. Visitors are immersed in the sights and sounds of African and Asian rainforests. You will start off walking through a mist of fog searching for the animals in the exhibits beyond. The white handed gibbons and an orange orangutan cohabitate in a large outdoor exhibit on the Asian trail. Inside the African section you will see rare animals such as two Bonobos and an Emperor Scorpion. I was introduced to the Grey’s Crowned Ghenons which are unique looking animals in the monkey family. They were very playful when we were there and one guy had amused me because he was having a lot of fun looking at himself in a little mirror dangling from the ropes.
The zoo also features rare animals including White Lions, Komodo Dragons and Sumatran Rhinos. The Sumatran Rhino is the smallest and oldest species of rhino and is one of the most endangered species on earth. His horn is not as large as black and white rhinos, and he has shaggy hair on his body. In an effort to conserve this rare species, scientists at the zoo helped their Sumatran Rhinos produce the first of their species born in captivity in 114 years. Emi, the mother, gave birth to a baby boy, Andalas about two years ago and he just moved to the Los Angeles Zoo. Debbie at the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife explained their story and we were even able to watch Emi give birth. Emi is now pregnant again.
We spent the rest of our time looking at the amazing Manatees in Manatee Springs, wandering through the Cat House, and spying on the Bald Eagle and Stellar’s Sea Eagle in Eagle Eyrie. We got very close to a giraffe at the Vanishing Giants section and also saw an Okapi, which is a relative to the giraffe, and some elephants. We finished our trip at the Children’s Zoo where we go to watch two otters wrestling in and out of the water at Otter Creek.
What an amazing zoo! I suggest planning on spending 4 or 5 hours at the zoo to see it in its entirety.