. Only one of the four polar bears would deign to get into the water and swim, but seeing that massive and amazingly graceful bear dive down for a carrot was just poetry in motion. We started walking down the hill, looking at different animals on the way, and then both kids started complaining that they were hungry - it was only 11am by that time! We headed to the nearest area that showed restaurants on the map, only to discover it was closed...we found a zoo staff member who informed us that a lot of the restaurants were closed due to the fire - but we could walk all the way back to the front entrance where there was a snack bar, if we wanted too...!!! In the end we were just to tired, and Kate to grumpy to hike back, so we went to Albert's restaurant - probably the most expensive one in the park, and definitely the most expensive one we've been to on our trip. The kids had macaroni cheese for $7.95 a plate (came with a soda) and Fred & I had a pizza each ($14 each) - funny eh, fancy restaurant & we order pizza! However, it was very nice food, and we got a plate of freshly baked dinner rolls too - also we were seated right by the window with a fake waterfall outside and the place was air-conditioned (hot day today). After lunch we went and saw the gorgeous & endangered pandas, some serious and intense gorillas, massive elephants, a shy kiwi (just a round blob in the darkness), orang-utans and some graceful swimming hippos (honestly, it was like water ballet!). We also saw a show with a badger, bearcat, red river pig & a cheetah (with her cuddly golden retriever friend). We were all exhausted by the end of our day (9-5pm, pretty much walking most of the time) but we had a fantastic time. Tonight we had some real traditional 'Smores' with our campfire - yum!
This morning we went to San Diego Zoo. We nearly got lost getting there, as we had left the GPS & laptop behind (I felt very naked and exposed without it on my lap, ha ha) but we found the zoo without too much trouble. Kids got into the zoo for free during the month of October, which saved us quite a lot of money. A few exhibitions were close because of renovation, and a lot of the food places were closed also - but no one told us that when we came in through the front gates - there were consequences for us later! First we had a look through the reptile section - Fred was impressed to see the vast array of snakes. Seeing a Komodo dragon was pretty cool, he was huge! Then we walked through to the children's zoo and FINALLY got to see a raccoon! He was a lot bigger than we had expected (like a small overweight terrier) but very cute with his little bandit face. Next we hopped on the Skyfari gondola ($12 one way for us all!) and got some amazing views of the zoo (it is just enormous) as we were carried up high on the hill to the Polar Plunge exhibition