5 Reasons The San Diego Zoo & Safari Park Is A Perfect Day Trip For This Summer

The park is open again, with advanced safety measures

Molly Kugelmann/ Bustle

At this stage of summer 2020, we’re all looking for ways to entertain ourselves and enjoy our summer while staying safe. While many of us have had to cancel or postpone vacations this year, day trips don’t have to come to an end! Outdoor activities and places that follow proper social distancing and sanitization protocols are your best bet for some summer day trip fun. If you’re within driving distance of the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, they’re checking all the boxes.

Following a brief closure to keep guests, employees, and, of course, the animals safe, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are finally open again! Both parks are ready for guests with a wide array of precautions in place, including mask mandates, sanitizer stations, frequent cleaning and disinfecting, and crucial modifications like one-way travel in some areas, and social distancing guidelines in others.

Beyond that, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park have welcomed some new faces — many of whom were born during the closure and are just now ready for their debuts. Read on to find out all the reasons the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park provide a perfect day trip for summer.

1. You’ll be supporting the San Diego Zoo’s conservation mission

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Did you know just by visiting the Zoo, and Safari Park you’re doing something to help conservation? According to their website, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are “protected havens” that safeguard endangered species against extinction by breeding and caring for animals. The Zoo and Safari Park provide an opportunity for scientists to study animal behavior and health. Every time you visit, your money goes toward this mission. Need more proof? San Diego Zoo Global has released 44 species back into the wild and has done conservation projects in 45 countries.

2. Their safety measures are above and beyond

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A trip to the Zoo and Safari Park allows you to get out of the house safely. The facilities have put extra cleaning and disinfecting procedures in place throughout. They've also reduced the number of guests to less than half of each park's usual capacity, and have instituted a cloth face covering requirement for guests two years of age and older. Take advantage of the lack of crowds and spend more time watching your favorite animals, without worrying about getting out of the way as the next crowd moves through the park. And what is it you might see? Well, funny you should ask...

3. Two words: baby animals!

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Human society may have taken a pause during the last few months, but nature didn’t. Some new animals were born during the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park closure, and others are just making their first foray out in public now. At the Zoo, there’s a new pygmy hippo calf named Akobi (the first born at the Zoo in over 40 years), an Andean bear cub named Agapito (an endangered species), two Amur leopard cubs (one of the most endangered species on the planet, with fewer than 100 left in their native habitat), and two ring-tailed lemurs. At the Safari Park, there’s a new cheetah cub who hasn’t been named yet, a giraffe calf, two greater one-horned rhino calves, and a Grévy's zebra foal.

3. You can get house plant inspo from the various habitats

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House plants have become an integral part of many of our self-care routines, so budding botanists will be happy to know that there are plenty of fascinating plants on view at the parks. There are eight accredited plant collections, in addition to all the furry and feathered friends. Because San Diego has such a mild climate, the parks are able to grow plants that wouldn’t survive in other parts of the country. Just as they work to protect and conserve endangered animal species, the Zoo and Safari Park are working to save endangered plants from extinction, too.

5. You can enter another world — without traveling far at all!

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With the pandemic limiting the ability (and desire) for major travel, it’s time we re-discovered the magic of the day trip. The San Diego Safari Park is the perfect place to make that discovery. You’ll feel like you entered another world, though it’s just a road trip away. Located about 35 miles from the San Diego Zoo, the Safari Park spans 1,800 acres and features more than 300 species. With open field enclosures and habitats that mimic the plains and savannas of Africa and Asia, you have a rare opportunity to see herd-style animals like rhinos, giraffes, and antelope in their most natural settings. (And you can still make it home to your own bed at night). Happy travels!

Images: Molly Kugelmann/ Bustle

This article is sponsored by the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. The Zoo and Safari Park are open every day, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. (Hours are subject to change, so check the websites and for the most up-to-date information).