After sending the last of the elephants to a sanctuary the San Francisco Zoo has now turned the old Pachyderm Building into an educational exhibit hall. During my visit in the spring of 2014 the exhibit was ‘The Scoop on Poop’. I know you’re probably thinking, ‘disgusting! Who wants to learn about poop?!’ but this is a great exhibit for children and adults alike. The Scoop on Poop exhibit explores what poop is and how animals and people use it, from building homes to eating it and of course using it to fertilize our crops. This is a fun exhibit where getting grossed out gets put aside for some entertaining learning.
* Did you know that in Indonesia there is a company that makes gourmet coffee from beans collected from the droppings of palm civets and it goes for $175 a pound!
* There are over 7000 species of dung beetle and these workers for the environment can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
* How much do elephants poop? An adult African elephant can produce up to 300 pounds of dung every day.
Around the corner from the Pachyderm Building I found a sleepy Asian rhino, dozing in the spring sunshine, while on my way to Cat Kingdom. In Cat Kingdom you’ll find an assortment of animals from rhinos to hippos and bongos to various species of feline. From small bobcats and fishing cats to larger cats like tigers and lions the zoo has a wide selection of felines with indoor and outdoor enclosures with various grotto yards that the alternate some of the larger cat species through which is great for enrichment, allowing the cats to explore new exhibits, new smells and mark their new territory. One of my favourite animals is the tiger and they never cease to astound and amaze me with their brilliant orange stripped coat, penetrating eyes, and strength. To me one of the prettiest of the tiger species is the Sumatran, and I know you’re probably thinking what’s the difference? The Sumatran is the smallest of the tiger species, darker in colouring and always seem to have the most picturesque faces, and though I’m sure you won’t get too close to notice but they even have webbing between their toes which helps them be faster swimmers. The San Francisco Zoo has two tiger species, the Sumatran and the Amur – strangely enough the smallest and the largest. The Amur tiger are the largest of the tiger species and usually a paler colour, helping them camouflage better in the long winters of Russia and Siberia. I watched on as one of the Sumatran tigers at the zoo sat regal, like a giant house cat, and delicately groomed himself for his adoring visitors, their beauty is amazing!
Another of the feline species that are found at the zoo is the magical and majestic snow leopard. You almost feel like you’re walking through a small Tibetan village with Tibetan prayer flags strung up and then enter an alcove where there before you amongst the foliage, large rocks and perches stands the illusive snow leopard. I stopped short when I approached as there it was right at the glass in all is glory, it casually walked by me and then headed off into the exhibit with its stunning, long, fluffy tail trailing behind it, and it stopped briefly to turn its head, as if posing for the camera.
What else with you find? Lurking in the depths of the Lion House is a 15 foot long green anaconda, submerged in its large pool with only its eyes above the surface of the water. Anacondas along with pythons are the largest snakes in the world, though the anaconda are usually much heavier opposed to longer like the pythons, anacondas can reach weights of over 500 pounds.
Like you read in the title, from poop to penguins, the San Francisco Zoo’s colony of active Magellanic penguins can also be found in Cat Kingdom. On a large island oasis, with 36 burrows and surrounded by a 200 foot pool, the zoo’s penguin colony is one of the most successful breeding colonies and this was definitely evident with the many large babies I saw, still yet to get their adult feathers. When many people think of penguins they think they’re only found in cold climates, yet only two of the seventeen species of penguin are native to polar climates, the rest most likely on a beach basking in the sun.
So no matter what you’re looking for, the San Francisco Zoo has much to offer, from exhibits on poop to playful penguins! Be sure to check their website for what exhibit is going to be on display for your visit!