I Went to the Zoo

 It's been very many years since I have visited a zoo, and I couldn't even tell you which zoo it might have been, but I had heard anecdotal  information  that suggested the Santa Barbara Zoo had good landscaping with excellent plants  and was worthy of a visit . I'm always up for  some plant viewing so I  added the zoo  to my road trip agenda. A bit of googling revealed that this particular zoo is well regarded, is small, provides naturalistic settings for the animals and it was only ten minutes from my hotel .

  There were a lot, really a lot,  of children there, and the facility had numerous family-friendly features including a large park like play area , picnic areas, Giraffe feeding and a zoo train among other attractions.  Because I am notoriously child-phobic I spent quite a bit of time positioning myself  as far away as possible from the hordes. If I were to visit again , it would be very early spring, on a weekday, right at opening.

 This entire post will feature exactly 3 photos that include animals. I definitely had to take a pic of the Flamingos.

 Look at this cool container..I wondered if it was open at the bottom so that the large speciman cacti could root down into the soil beneath.

 A nice grouping , and typical of many garden areas at this zoo.

 Here we have Epiphyllums growing up the trunk of palms. I imagine this is quite a sight when the Epis bloom.

I'm always appreciative of a nice stand of Draceana Draco.

 Some really nice mature cactus and succulent plantings flanked one of the paths.

 Several of the palms were hosting large-very large- staghorn ferns (Platycerium) mounted on their trunks. I wish I had tried to see and photgraph the mechanics involved here, I'll be sure to do so if and when I return to this zoo.

 There were many palms , and  my palm ID skills are still lacking in spite of my pledge to improve. Maybe next year.

 Clivias were in peak bloom just about everywhere I went. The greenery above looked really fig-like to me but I found no tags.

 Cycads too !

Palms, Draceana draco , Clivia.

 Leucospermum is now a fixture in this region.

 Naturally there were Agaves.

 I had some regrets that I didn't spend more time in the areas that were designated for California native plants. I really appreciated that they featured our natives and though the area was relatively  small it was nicely designed , with informative signage for the non-plant savvy visitor.

 I'm always in awe of Aeonium plantings. Keeping them alive over the winter at my house is a challenge.

  If I was a giraffe and lived at a zoo, I would definitely appreciate an ocean view.

 If you look center left you might see a mammal swinging along a rope .  This looked to be a white Chimp or a white Baboon- I failed to get the ID and I can't find info on the SB zoos' website. However, this guy was swinging happily through mature Eucalyptus. I saw no screens, nets or fences of any kind-

 This was the scene below. I wish I had taken more photos of the environments that this small zoo has created for their animals.

 I guess my take-away from this visit was appreciation for the attempt to provide livable habitats for their animals in natural settings, including a Condor enclosure large enough  for them to fly in.  Certainly it's not like being free, but the study of these animals that is facilitated by their confinement in a zoo is important for their survival in the wild. 


  1. Thanks for sharing the visit! Even though I spent my undergrad years in SB and have visited the area too many time to count since, I've only visited this zoo once, decades ago now I think. The landscaping looks better than I remember so it probably warrants a return visit but I'll heed your warning on the child quotient - having spent this morning with a dozen 1st graders on a tour through my local botanic garden, I think I'm becoming more child-phobic too.

    1. a dozen 1st graders...you are a brave soul Kris !

  2. Thanks for sharing your visit. If you're interested in another zoo with great plant-scaping, the Tacoma Zoo is worth a visit when you're up here. Both Loree and I have visited and written posts about it. Their main plants-person leads very informative monthly tours that you have to sign up for. I'm not child-phobic but I don't recall being particularly annoyed by any hordes on the weekday I was there.

    1. I looked back on those posts Alison-looks definitely worth a visit.

  3. Always take photos of the flamingos! I had no idea Santa Barbara had a zoo, let alone that it was a good one. Also that swinging mammal...wow! I second Alison's comment about the Pt Defiance zoo in Tacoma.

    1. Not quite the scale of the vast Flamingo pond at the San Diego Zoo, but still gives one some tropical moments. I've been to the PDX zoo too ! Many many years ago during the hippie-esque era. Pretty sure altered states were involved.

  4. White handed Gibbon, Hylobates lar? Very nice plantscaping. Santa Barbara has that wonderful climate--everything grows beautifully.

    I avoid zoos and most museums for the reason you stated.

    1. Maybe a Gibbon-he/she was chimp sized from what I could tell. Santa Barbara and Berkeley are my envy zones.


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