A summer of visits to Happy Hollow. The zoo’s not much to mention. Rides though are perfect for kids.
Category Archives: gallery
Finally visited the new California Academy of Sciences. While I have fond memories of the old building, even as a kid I was aware that it was a bit of a throwback to an earlier age of museum. Dusty dioramas and dark, prison-like fishtanks and terrariums paled in comparison to what I could see in Monterey. So it was nice to see a new building with updated displays and tanks.
I especially love the updated aquarium since not only are the tanks nicer, the large Farallon Islands tank highlights a major local marine sanctuary which is distinct from the Outer Bay exhibit in Monterey. That aquariums tend to have such a local focus is one of the reasons I’ve started preferring them to zoos.
Despite not being local, I do like the rainforest exhibit as well since it’s always nice to have exhibits which you’re truly inside to the point where you need to doublecheck that you’re not removing anything when you exit. It’s especially great for kids since it’s truly immersive. I still have to boost them up to see things but there’s no “walking to the next enclosure” downtime.
At the same time, I did find myself looking for things I remembered from the old building.* Besides the alligator pit and the dioramas, not much is left.** But I was pleased to see the dioramas—even if they still feel so dated—even after being updated with projected moving backgrounds. There’s something about the continuity of being able to show my kids how my grandparents learned about the world which appeals to me.
*Like the electric eel (present), piranhas (not present), and foucault pendulum (present).
**Compared to the San Francisco Zoo where much of the old zoo is still there, lurking behind and peeking through the fancy new stuff.
Not much to add to last year’s post, although this year we didn’t even make it to the Obon Odori dancing. Yay for kids getting tired and fussy. But it was still good. We got the most important thing done. Shave Ice!
And while we didn’t get to see dancing, we were able to enjoy a full performance of San José Taiko. I enjoy photographing their gigs since they go out of their way to be expressive.
So yeah. A good day despite leaving early.
Another visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s been a year. This time we managed to explore the whole aquarium more although we spent a lot of tim in the special tentacles exhibit. I was on kid duty and didn’t get to photograph much. They’re at the stage where they run from tank to tank and “see” things really quickly. But large tanks hold their attention for a while. As does looking out over the bay and seeing all the cormorants leaving their nests and returning with fish.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the San Francisco Zoo. My observations from my previous visit still stand, but this time in addition to thinking about the animals on display, I found myself thinking about the zoo itself and how it’s kind of a throwback to a lost era.
I have mixed feelings about the San Francisco Zoo in particular. A lot of zoos I’ve been to are completely redone with all fancy new enclosures. The San Francisco Zoo on the otherhand, while there are plenty of new enclosures, has still kept a lot of its WPA-era infrastructure. This is simultaneously depressing since they’re really not the best places for animals as well as exciting since if you squint, you can see glimpses of the past and imagine what things used to be like when all these animals were exotic reminders of how big the world was.
I found myself looking a lot at the old infrastructure this time. Both because as my kids get older, I find myself trying to remember how the zoo was when I used to visit it at their age, and because I enjoy the idea of the zoo containing reminders of how our past society was. And how much we’ve learned about animals since then.
A lot of these photos are close to being ruin porn. At the same time, they’re also me chasing my own memories and ghosts—including the fact that we bought a Zoo Key this time.
Of course, I was also trying to take photos of the animals. One of my childhood memories of the zoo was how the animals were always hiding.* That’s thankfully no longer the case today. The animals were all out, and quite often lively and healthy looking. So that was nice to see. And nice to photograph.
*In hindsight, it was probably because their enclosures were so depressing.
And the kids had a good time chasing down the Zoo Key boxes and seeing all the animals. Except when things got a bit smelly.