Have you ever been on a vacation where you felt like you needed a vacation from your vacation when it was over?  Did the sight of one more landmark begin to make you feel nauseous?  Were your knees in such pain from running around everywhere that you swore people could use them as weather balloons with all the hot air and swelling inside?  Did you get to the end of a vacation and consider having a book burning party with all of the tourist guide books you brought, until you realize that you borrowed them from the library and do not actually own them? Let me ease your aching knees and the headache that is pounding in your temples from thinking about one more picture with a character from Disneyland.  When making a trip out to California, or even if you live in the area, why not try the L.A. Zoo instead of one of those crazy high traffic locales?


California is the land of one thousand distractions, not including Selena Gomez.  So when come into the Southern California area, there is never a shortage of landmarks to visit. Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood Blvd, Capitol Records, the beaches, and Sea World are but of few of the many tourist attractions you have coming into the area.  All of those are so heavily trafficked that when you go there you feel like you have been magically transported to Pamplona and are wondering whether or not you should be listening for the sounds of some stampede.  The way some people run through those places make you think about packing a red cape and a sword the next time you go.  (Just for your information, there is no theme park I know of that will let you bring a real sword inside.  Do it and you might be branded with the big letter T across your chest.  I know you liked Miss Prynne.  But I’m sure you won’t like a T emblazoned on all your outfits, your new all orange wardrobe, or your fellow roommates at the Bay.)


Instead of driving yourself nuts doing imitations of salmon during mating season, you should ease your mind, and your pocketbook, with the tranquil sounds of giraffes lapping up water.  Or if that doesn’t inspire you, you can enjoy the hilarity of two otters trying to do their best Vogue impressions as you watch them play in the pool.  (Look out Madonna, these otters may have you beat.)  And if you really worry about keeping your not so secret identity as senior sourpuss, enjoy the plaintive roars of lions as they call out to each other.  The L.A. Zoo is a cornucopia of sight and sounds to amaze and enjoy.


And if this isn’t obvious enough that I am telling you to take a trip to the L.A. Zoo, let me beat you over the head with these ten fantastic reasons to spend a day Dr. Dolittle style.  You just need to talk to some animals.


10 Reasons To Visit The L.A. Zoo


10) Reciprocity –

When you go and get a membership to the L.A. Zoo, you have a connection to hundreds of Zoo’s across the united states with your membership.  You can visit these Zoo’s for 50 to 100 percent off the price of admission.  This means that if you are visiting from outside the area, you can still take the benefits with you, wherever you may go.  Forty-eight of the Fifty states have zoo’s with some degree of benefits.  (One of the states that doesn’t is Mississippi.  For those of you who are in Mississippi, I don’t know what to tell you.  Get on board the zoo train!  What’s wrong with your state?!?!)


9) A Break From The Crowds –

Things can be a bit crazy when you go to any of those places, with long lines and lots of time to “hurry up and wait.”  You rush from one place to the next and then you stand around in the hot sun.  When you go to the zoo, there is never the classic line, except to maybe go on the Safari tram.  Aside from that, you can do everything at whatever pace you want to.  Yes, there are some crazy hills up there.  Be prepared for your fit bit monitor to start going crazy.  But it’s also a place where you just walk up to the places where the animals are at and you can watch them, or participate in whatever is going on.  For those of you who have tired of the lines, and I know you have, this is a great place to go where lines do not really exist, aside from where you go to purchase food.  You might have to lift your child on your shoulders to see some of the animals, but it’s better than trying to fight fifty parents at a Disney parade when you put your child on your shoulders there.


6) Special Giraffe Feedings –

At the L.A. Zoo they have twice daily feedings with the giraffes.  For a small fee, you get to get up close and personal with these majestic animals as they feed directly from your hand.  Experience the natural world in a protected place and learn that animals are beautiful creatures in need of our protection, and not to be hunted for sport or profit.  There is nothing like getting up close to a giraffe.  I am just told that you might want to protect your hair if you are of the long haired persuasion.  I guess giraffe’s just don’t appreciate 80s metal hair bands or something.

7)  Hippo Encounters –

On weekends and holidays, for a nominal fee, you get to get up close and personal with Mara and baby Rosie, two amazing hippos who are on a perpetual holiday.  You get to experience a behind the scenes look at their training, care and feeding.  I think there is something beautiful about getting time with the animals and learning about their care and how we should protect them is always an important lesson for our children.  Our planet is the only one we live on, and we need to be sure to protect it for future generations.


6)  You Get To Be The Next Captain America –

OK!  Maybe I am slightly overstating who you can be.  Maybe you would only be the next Iron Man; or possibly even the next Ant Man.  Who wouldn’t want to be the next Ant Man, right?  You don’t like wearing spandex?  Too bad.  Actually, you might not have to wear spandex to save the planet.  If you get a zoo membership or go to the Zoo, you are contributing to their work in various different conservation projects throughout the globe.  It may seem weird that these zoos hold animals behind bars.  But many of the reasons they do this is not to make a spectacle out of the animals.  They are doing it for animal rescue purposes, or even being able to contribute to conservation projects throughout the globe.  The L.A. Zoo has participated in at least thirty of them worldwide with generous contributions from its members.  So now, not only are you purchasing a zoo ticket, you are saving the planet.  Go you!!!


5) Silly Faces –

Now I know you are asking yourself, how silly faces can be a perk at the zoo.  And why in the world would that be a benefit?  I would ask you to imagine the feeling of watching your children laughing as they watch a otter make a silly face.  Doesn’t the feeling bring joy to your heart?  You immediately feel warm all over.  It’s the kind of warm you get when you reach that crazy two o’clock in the morning mode where everything seems funny.  Laughter occurs without any motivation, or negativity.  We are always laughing with people at that point, almost never at.  It’s just pure and genuine.  When our kids laugh like that it makes the world a better place.

4) Muriel’s Ranch –

Not to be confused with the wedding, Muriel’s ranch is a place for your kids to get up close and personal with the little animals like goats and sheep.  They get to brush their fur and spend some time with the animals in a low key way.  These animals are great with the kids, and the reason why I place this higher on the list of reasons to visit the zoo is that it comes with no extra charge.  Sometimes places are about nickel and diming you.  You go in for cheap but you got out broke because you paid for a lot of small events along the way.  Here the cost is free and you still get that personal touch.   This was the first place where my daughter got comfortable being around and caring for other animals.  So it will always hold a special place in my heart.

3)  The Events –

I know that to go when they have special events and you are out of town takes a special bit of planning.  But the L.A. Zoo has monthly special events that they have for the kids to participate in.  They have had reindeers, Santa, the Easter bunny, Chinese New Year celebrations, Wine and dine evening events, special member tours and even crazy Halloween mazes and parties.  The Zoo always has events that go along with the season and they bring a bit of added magic to the park.  Disney may have some cool magic at its theme park, but they do not have a monopoly on it.  The Zoo brings a little bit of that to you through the wonders of the natural world.

2)  The Cost of Going to the Zoo Is Relatively Inexpensive –

For “Adults” 13 and over, the cost of admission is $20.  Although I would like to dispute their definition of adult.  Children 2 to 12 it’s $15.  And for those underneath that magical age of 2, it’s free.  However, when we bump it up to the cost of a membership, the value is infinitely more.  You can visit the Zoo all year long with a membership for $140.  This includes two adults, and all of your children and grandchildren ages 2-17.  It also includes two Safari tickets and two Carousel tickets.  This means that for a family of 2, or 100, as long as the kids are under 18, you have a great outing all year long.  The cost of one Universal ticket for 175 days is $125.  There is no way you are going to beat the price.  And if you are comparing to the San Diego zoo, it’s practically half the cost for a one day ticket.


1) The Animals –

What?  You mean you aren’t going to the zoo to get the magnificent food that they serve?  Chicken nuggets, pizza and hamburgers are not high on your list of healthy foods to eat?  I could have sworn that was why you wanted to go to the zoo.  OK, fine!  I know you are thinking to yourself, duh!  I can even hear this coming from my daughter, along with the accompanying eye roll.  For those of you who have teenagers, you know the look.  Of course you go to the zoo to see the animals.  Everyone seems to have a favorite.  There is just something beautiful and amazing about them.  My daughters loves primates.  But she especially loves her gorillas.  She wants to be the next Jane Goodall, if singer, actress, dancer and fashion designer do not pan out.  And for me, I love my cheetahs.  Maybe it’s because Chester Cheetah and those Cheetos?  Nah!  I just love the grace and speed at which they move.


To be honest, I didn’t even begin to list all of the things that could do at the zoo there.  From watching the World of Birds show to going on the Safari tour, there are tons of things to do throughout the park.  What things do you like at the L.A. Zoo?  And if you have never been, what are things you like at the zoo near you?  There are so many great ones out there doing great work to help out animals and protect the planet we live on.  Zoos are not the monsters of our nightmares, but groups of people who love the world we live in and wish to protect it.  Definitely go for a visit.  And if you are in L.A., definitely make the trek out to the L.A. Zoo, it’s worth your visit.  And someday I will get to the top ten things to do at Griffith Park.  The Zoo is only one of them.

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Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life