San Diego Wild Animal Park : Michelin's recommendations
Exotic and endangered animals from around the globe find safe haven in this 1,800-acre park of rolling grasslands in the heart of San Diego County. Created and operated by the San Diego Zoo, it is both a major tourist attraction and conservation center.The park was pioneered in 1953, when zoo officials conceived the idea of an open-air captive breeding center for endangered species and backcountry zoo to raise public awareness about conservation. The foothills surrounding the undeveloped San Pasqual Valley in central San Diego County proved to be an ideal environment, mimicking in climate and geography regions in Asia and Africa where many endangered species were found. The land was subsequently landscaped to incorporate such elements as tree stumps for rhinoceroses to rub their hides on, and trees tall enough that giraffes could feed from their branches without stooping, so that the animals would feel comfortable enough in captivity to breed. Today as many as 600 creatures are born or hatched at the park each year, with five times the survival rate of newborns in the wild. The total collection of more than 3,500 mammals and birds represents some 260 species. The highlight of the park is the 55min, 5mi Wgasa Bush Line Railway tour, which traverses the park's seven principal biogeographical areas, providing views of Indian rhinoceroses, Persian goitered gazelles, blackbuck antelopes, Przewalski's wild horses and other creatures.