I went to the San Francisco Zoo last week with Max, after wanting to go for over a year. I had planned on getting a membership, but it turns out the individual membership was more expensive than I thought ($75) and didn’t let you bring a friend. You’d have to go at least five times by yourself to make it worthwhile, plus if you wanted company you’d have to convince someone to come five times. Sounds hard, right? Especially compared to the individual membership at the California Academy of Sciences, which is $99 and includes a plus one. So it pays for itself if you go four times by yourself, or twice if you toss in the free friend.
As it turns out, I’m pretty glad I didn’t get a membership and just bought the $15 day ticket. It was depressing. I thought it would be more akin to the Academy or the Monterey Bay Aquarium – their missions are education and preservation of the earth’s creatures and environment, and they accomplish their goals through the display of some of those creatures. The zoo, however….
The zoo seems to be designed to simply exhibit animals. It was long on chain link fences and sad looking animals, including a tiger who just paced and paced and paced, and pretty short on information about the animals and how we can help them in the wild. Admittedly a lot of the zoo was under construction, so maybe they’re trying to fix it, but I felt like they could be doing a lot more in the meantime.
They did manage to have some signs about the history of locations and exhibits, including what’s currently known as Penguin Island. It’s a long reflecting pool with an island in the middle that houses a bunch of penguins who splash around, swim, and even just chill in the pool when they’re not on the island. Of interest though was the fact that the island used to house monkeys. The zookeepers at the time, in their wisdom, thought that they should install a working stove on the island to keep the monkeys warm. The monkeys, in their monkeyness, decided to knock the stove over and set fire to the island. Crazy monkeys!