Saturday, May 23, 2009

San Diego Zoo's Unforgettable Elephant Odyssey

Last night, The San Diego Zoo held a VIP Event for the grand opening of the Elephant Odyssey exhibit. I had the pleasure of touring the new 7.5 acre display with fellow San Diego bloggers. It was a great event and a beautiful exhibit.

The event started at 5pm. We enjoyed some yummy cookies prior to taking the Sky Ride over to the exhibit, which is on the far end of the 100-acre zoo. We arrived at the entrance of the Elephant Odyssey and picked up a Pink Elephant (alcoholic for us, non-alcoholic for our kids, of course) which made it somewhat awkward for taking pictures, but somehow, we managed!

Somewhere along the way, I put our drinks down and I'm not quite sure which one my son ended up finishing, but he did end up having a crying fit moments later when he realized how hungry he was (Oh yeah, we sort of need to eat dinner!).

I got a few photos in prior to that, of the elephants enjoying their new play area, a baby crocodile which my son was frightened of, and the tapirs - adults and babies - enjoying the sunshine.
We cut through the Conrad Prebys Elephant Management Facility to sit down for some food outside the new Sabertooth Grill. Food was all my son needed to keep us going for the rest of the night. We all had dinner together and then my son ran around the Pleistocene Playground with Sugar's kids once the sun went down.

The event ended at 9 when the Zoo officially closed and we jumped aboard the top level of the double-decker bus to be dropped off right in front of the Exit. We walked to our car, said goodbye to our friends and then - major drama - my son discovered that he left his blanket and the stuffed elephant we were given at the beginning of the night, all the way back where we were seated for dinner! Seriously?!

I hesitated between teaching him a lesson (leaving it behind) and knowing how upset he was because he doesn't go anywhere without his security blanket (picture Linus from Peanuts). After a few tears (his, not mine), we ran back to the entrance so I could explain to the staff why we so desperately needed to to back inside.

They were so understanding and in seconds, we were seated on a golf cart which the security guard drove - the back way - to the elephant display so we could retrieve my son's beloved blankie. He clung to me the entire time as we zipped through the zoo in the dark, no one around except the animals and the noises of the night. It was a beautiful drive and I enjoyed seeing the zoo in silence although my son was having a mini panic attack next to me.

The security guard who drove us there escorted us back to the "scene of the crime" and my son had to run to keep up with us since we were walking so quickly for his little legs. As soon as we got to the tables where we were previously sitting, my son crawled underneath the table and pulled out his blanket which he had stuffed up underneath the legs of the table (these photos proved the fact that he disappeared under there long enough to take several pics of the table legs and the napkin that fell on the ground).

Overall, the lasting memory of the event will be a traumatic one for my son since he nearly lost his blanket, but for me, I will remember how wonderful the staff was, how great we were treated and the laughs shared with some fabulous women.


San Diego Momma said...

Oh Good GOD! You poor thing having to go back to the scene of the blanket crime. Still, I'm glad it was a cool nighttime zoo experience.

GREAT seeing you as always and hey, I've got your stuffed elephant!

* TONYA * said...

I had a feeling he left his toy behind. As we pulled out of our parking spot I noticed your car was there and in the dark and no-one in it. I thought either a toy must have been left behind or a much needed potty break was needed for a drive home. I'm so glad he got his blankie back. What a relief.

What a great night. So wonderful seeing all of you amazing ladies again.

MelADramatic Mommy said...

So good to see you!

HIP_M0M said...

Thanks for getting me on the guest list, Mel. It was a great experience and was wonderful to see all of you ladies again!