And yes that is an Australian marsupial. Apparently Koalas are synonomous with San Diego Zoo. There is definitely an Aussie flavour to this zoo, with the Kangaroo Express named Bus and the welcoming Koala sign.
A tip, get here early if it is hot! Duly we found parking, and bought tickets on arrival. Or, you can look at one of the many bundled attraction ticket deals, depending on what you are wishing to see. We considered the GoCard, which fits with our style of travelling (packing as much into each day as is possible), but on this visit it didnt work with our scheduled days. However it is a terrific incentive to explore without worrying about cost, once you have outlaid for the initial card.
Without doubt, the birds residing with the zoo provided one of the best displays I have ever experienced. We loved exploring the walkways, which travelled up and down staircases and rises with the land.
There is sooooo much to do here, so allow the time. With the zoo so large, we appreciated the many modes of transport on offer that helped us cover more ground. The guided bus tour was fantastic, it explored a fair amount of the zoo and you had the benefit of the commentary. There was also an express bus which you could hop on and off, and the Skyfari Aerial Tram which provided a great aerial perspective.
The zones covered amongst other things the outback - ode to Australia, Urban Jungle with rhinos and giraffes, and the famous Panda Canyon!
Some of the habitats were in need of upgrade, but that is the case with any zoo, and as a member of the Melbourne Zoos which we go to A LOT, we have seen the constant revisions to the philosophy within zoos in keeping with conservation, rather than the old idea of animals just being on display.
The zoo is of course famous for its pandas, and we this was the only place we needed to join a queue, but the citizens were totally queue abiding, and very quickly we got to see the baby panda (mum was off display at that time).
There are multiple dining options. We didnt try any of them, and really regret it, as on Australian standards it really wasnt that expensive and certainly adds to the local experience. After leaving the Zoo, the warm evening meant we could continue our exploration of San Diego.
On the return to our hotel, we stopped off at La Jolla, a beachside location with wonderful shops, a buzz of people, and the best display of seals I have ever seen.
Finding a park was a nightmare, but in the end we found a spot and it was worth it. There is far more to La Jolla than we discovered on this visit, with sea caves amongst other things, and we will be scheduling another visit on our return to San Diego.