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San Diego Zoo Africa Rocks Reviews and discussion

Discussion in 'United States' started by The_UltimateBea, 4 Dec 2017.

  1. The_UltimateBea

    The_UltimateBea Well-Known Member

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    Now that Africa Rocks has opened, I have created a new thread for full reviews and discussion. The old title didn't really make sense anymore anyways.

    Please keep in mind that there the exhibit is not fully filled yet with some minor signs and a few species to be added.
     
  2. The_UltimateBea

    The_UltimateBea Well-Known Member

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    Time for my opinion!

    Kopje
    *Although this area is not new it still forms an integral part of the whole area so I will include it.

    What a great little zone! The immersion is top notch and the mixed species central habitat is simply superb. In addition, the kilpspringer are one of my favorite species to watch as they deftly jump up and down the formations.


    Ethiopian Highlands

    After going through these yards twice I half to say I do not share the absolute enthusiasm of some other zoochaters on them. The retaining walls are bland, flat and distracting from an otherwise excellent exhibit filled with a plethora of Geladas and Hamadrayas (with Ibex to come). I still think these enclosures are excellent and that continued plant growth will most likely fix the issues but right now they are not amazing.


    Acacia Woodlands

    When looking at the map I was concerned about the space of the leopard areas but after seeing the animals in them they appear to be just the right size. The walkway between the two exhibits is ingeniously embedded into the rockwork and provides a great viewing opportunity if only occasional. The aviary is superbly designed but I had some trouble locating its small birds in its fairly large area. It could also use some signage on the entryway s to take away from their blandness. Also, a species list on the upper walkway is strangely missing. The vervet monkey exhibit is excellent as it stays out of most of the sunlight glare and provides ample viewing angles with great rock and plantwork.


    Madagascar Forest and Falls

    The most glare exhibits of the whole canyon are the fossa and honey badger and they seem unlikely to get better with plant growth as I do not see which plants can grow to block the sunlight directed to them. The lemur exhibit, on the other hand does not recieve as much glare and provides a great variety of 5 species to view. However, I did not see all of them out at once as it appears they will switch them out periodically. The waterfall is an excellent addition as the noise is heard all the way up in the woodlands and provides a great sound which rather than retracting from the experience adds to the immersion. In addition, it is great for cooling off.


    West African Forest

    While the dwarf crocodiles are sometimes hard to spot there are enough fish and turtles to make this little addition quite nice


    Cape Fynbos

    This is the crown jewel of Africa Rocks with a sizeable population, great viewing angles and little visual distraction as the majority of the penguin care center is hidden by rockwork. The underwater viewing area is amazing and a great place to rest with a snack with its many benches. It could, however, use a little more rockwork on the backside of the underwater pool.


    Final Thoughts

    Although I have voice d many criticisms in my review I truly believe that this area is an amazing addition to the zoo. The plants are great throughout and will only get better with time. Most of my stated concerns are minor and may improve with simple (possibly planned) upgrades or plant growth. This addition provides many new and unique species and will most definitely keep the San Diego Zoo well placed in the increasingly accelerating race to be the best zoo in the world.
     
  3. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    As I noted elsewhere from my recent visit, the mesh on top of the exhibits extends over the visitor area, which I found odd (since the sides are still open so it is not meant to keep out birds I don't think). I wonder (and this is an honest question/speculation) if the reason for this is to plant some kind of creeping vines that will eventually cover the entire complex? Not sure if any vines could go that far up from their roots (it is massive), but it sure would be cool. Or maybe they could just use tarps to cover the entire area and provide shade? Or artificial vines?
     
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  4. The_UltimateBea

    The_UltimateBea Well-Known Member

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    I think its just a new way to hang exhibit mesh. It allows the zoo to do it vertically and with solid obstruction
     
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  5. Wyman

    Wyman Well-Known Member

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    With or without? I think you may have made a typo
     
  6. The_UltimateBea

    The_UltimateBea Well-Known Member

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    yes. sorry.
     
  7. betsy

    betsy Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I posted photos of some of the animals on exhibit in Africa Rocks.
     
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  8. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    Glad to see it's all done as I'm visiting the zoo in just over a week and was waiting with baited breath to see if it would all be open. I'll probably do a thread of my mini zoo trip and will make sure to cover the Africa Rocks section.
     
  9. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

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    Yes please do, I plan on doing something similar as well.
     
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  10. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think you understand what I was saying. In addition to the mesh on the animal exhibits, the mesh also covers the visitor pathway when there is no structural reason for it (as far as I know).
     
  11. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    I think you purposely left out leopard photos just to spite me! :p
     
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  12. betsy

    betsy Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    ;)
     
  13. betsy

    betsy Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Actually, they were both asleep behind the metal door that separates the 2 (yes 2) exhibits.
     
  14. The_UltimateBea

    The_UltimateBea Well-Known Member

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    any reason
    I think they wanted to have more support from the other side of the inclosure and did not like the look of only support wires from the poles. It just makes it look more coherent.
     
  15. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    The way I understand it, is that the mesh canopy is stretched across the entire area so that the cage "walls" can be stretched from the canopy to the ground. The canopy needs to cover the whole area because otherwise it doesn't provide a firm connection for the upper part of the "walls".
     
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  16. Falcosparverius

    Falcosparverius Well-Known Member

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    Here's a YouTube video I found of a walk-through of Africa Rocks .
     
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  17. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    That's a really cool video!
     
  18. mweb08

    mweb08 Well-Known Member

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    I saw the penguin and dwarf croc exhibits in person and was impressed and from what I can tell from that video and the pics, this looks to be an excellent addition to the zoo. The baboon exhibits seem especially impressive. I do wish that they were able to employ the viewing trio of mesh, open, and glass on more of the other exhibits, though.
     
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  19. Shellheart

    Shellheart Well-Known Member

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    So... I did make a very sudden trip to the zoo today, and I did intend on making a review. I did not, however, manage to see most of the species in Africa Rocks, which soured my experience, and I don't think I could write a review that would reflect my opinions on a day where I actually see the animals in their habitats. It was also over-cast and nearing sunset, so the inhabitants weren't active, for the most part. That said, what I did see was good.

    Cape Fynbos
    In my opinion, this is a very worthy addition to the zoo. The planting is great, and the size of the exhibit was definitely appropriate for its inhabitants. I can't wait to see what it's like when the penguins start breeding. The inhabitants were energetic, and obviously penguins are a crowd-draw, so I'm glad to have them. I do have a nitpick, due to not being able to spot any signage for the various fish in the exhibit. It could also be that I just missed the sign, but it generally bothers me when there's fish in exhibits that seem to be there as just some kind of decoration. At least tell us what those fish are, or why they're there. (unless it's "mosquitofish", that are only used for pest control).

    West African Forest and Rady Falls
    Did not see a single signed species in this exhibit. Several unsigned fish were visible, but I decline to comment overall. This looked like a good exhibit, but nothing particularly special.
    I did see the waterfall. It's significantly larger than I expected. It is definitely a waterfall. The noise, as mentioned above, was a nice immersive effect, but I was a tad perplexed by the need for the color changing lights in the cave. Still, I'm not above enjoying randomly placed color-changing lights. A solid B, as far as artificial waterfalls go.

    Madagascar Forest
    Out of this entire complex, I saw two ring-tailed lemurs. The exhibit they were in was absolutely huge for those two ring-tailed lemurs, so that was good. As I am unsure of the normal number of inhabitants, however, I really cannot honestly comment.

    Acacia Woodlands
    I got lucky, and managed to see the leopards and the vervet monkeys in this area. I will say I was a bit disappointed by the size of the leopard exhibit. I expected a bit more. The vervet monkey exhibit was good. I'd never seen vervet monkeys before, but they were active, and seem rather charismatic and fun to watch. Sadly, I was not able to enter the aviary, as it closed literally as I got to it. It seemed rather large, but I didn't see the number of species in the exhibit, nor did I see a single bird in it. I'm wondering if there's so few inhabitants (and so small) that it seems empty at the moment? Or perhaps it was just due to the time of day. I noticed The_UltimateBea also mentioned having issues locating inhabitants, so it seems like overall it might be hard to spot inhabitants, which doesn't necessarily make for a good visitor experience. It does, however, make for a good exhibit, as clearly the inhabitants have plenty of room. I have mixed feelings, and will hopefully be able to decisively comment once I return.

    Ethiopian Highlands
    I did not see a single animal in this area. I did like the exhibits, but I find it hard to comment on the quality of an empty exhibit, myself.

    Kopje
    This... is more or less what it was before. I've always liked the Kopje, myself. The klipspringer/hyrax/mongoose exhibit has always been a favorite. I always manage to see a klipspringer in the perfect pose for photography, and it showcases pretty nicely how its inhabitants have adapted to life on the rocks. The serval exhibit is appropriate, but it's hard to call it anything beyond that. The two smaller aviaries are nice, and I've always enjoyed the Bateleur myself. Overall, it was good before, and they didn't change much of anything, so it's good now.

    Overall
    I can't make any real judgement, due to having missed most of the species on exhibit. What I did see was promising, save for the disappointing leopard exhibit. It seems to be something of a trend at the Zoo to make disappointing cat exhibits, as Arizona Docent will happily tell you, and this just feels like a continuation of that. Also, I was a big fan of the planting. Planting isn't something I normally comment on in an exhibit, but the plants present were attractive, and at some points, such as the entrance to the penguin exhibit, almost artful. I also think the species present are, for the most part, charismatic, active animals that one could likely spend quite some time viewing. I could easily see spending over an hour in Africa Rocks on a day when all inhabitants are visible. This seems to be a worthy addition to the San Diego Zoo. I do hope for a more ambitious project in the future, but on the bright side I can't say there was a truly "bad" exhibit in the complex.
     
  20. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes I will indeed. When they demolished Cat Canyon to make way for this, they built new exhibits for mountain lion and Amur and snow leopards that are the same size as their decades old exhibits. They may have a bit more foliage and more usable vertical space, but they are still small. Considering the conservation importance of critically endangered Amur leopards, it is disappointing they gave them the backseat.
     
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