The 40 hectare San Diego Zoo in the western state of California is home to over 4,000 rare and endangered animals representing more than 800 species and subspecies, and a prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 exotic plants. For producers Ade Astuti and Susy Tekunan, VOA's Carla Coolman takes us for a visit to the San Diego Zoo.
The San Diego Zoo is known for its beautiful landscape and its open enclosures for animals. Many people consider their visit to this zoo as a rare opportunity to visit some of the world's most imperiled and precious wildlife, and learn ways to help save it.
John Barret and his wife have been regular visitors for many years. John explains why he visits. "They have a nice polar bear on display here in the San Diego Zoo and I've just been reading recently about, with global warming, that polar bears are more and more endangered. So, you know, it's a place that, unfortunately, maybe this can be the last refuge for certain animals."
Dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered species, the San Diego Zoo has one of the largest zoo-based research centers in the world dedicated to saving critically endangered animals.
Greg Vicino is the animal care supervisor at the zoo. He explains how they maintain the species, "One of the things that happens with this critically endangered species like this is that we want to make sure that we're breeding them appropriately, so we can bounce them back and forth between different zoos."
In fact, the first panda born in North America to survive to adulthood was born here. The San Diego Zoo currently has the largest population of giant pandas outside of mainland China.
Bamboo is grown on zoo grounds and at several off-site locations to supply the pandas with their daily meals.
Another popular animal with visitors, like Corrie Bart and her children, is the orangutan. Bart says, "Yes, they just always like monkeys. They always talk about monkeys at home."
The orangutans are part of the program to save endangered species from extinction.
Vicino adds, "What happens is, by raising awareness, and raising money, we'll be able to funnel into those organizations, Orangutan (Foundation) International and groups like that who are actively pursuing rehabbing animals and reintroduce them into the wild."
The San Diego Zoo is a unique opportunity for people to learn about rare and endangered species in one of America's most beautiful cities.