Family Travel: Amazing Animal Encounters at the San Diego Zoo and Sea World

Today I have the pleasure of sharing a guest post from the lovely Barbara Mascareno. Barbara takes a unique approach to teaching children Spanish, and because my daughter is half-Spanish and should know more about her heritage, I love to visit Barbara’s blog frequently for lessons in the Spanish language.

Her family went to the San Diego Zoo and Sea World for vacation, and since I haven’t yet made that destination, I was delighted to read her accounts here first. Now I have yet another incredible destination to add to my ever-growing list. Enjoy!


What a wonderful experience it was for us, as a family, to visit the San Diego Zoo and the SeaWorld amusement park in November, 2010. The idea that we could see wild life up close was magnificent. My daughter had only read in books or seen on television these amazing creatures like seals, whales, pandas, monkeys, and so many more. Hence, to start talking about seeing these animals up close was such an excitement for her.

To her amazement, she saw panda bears eating bamboo and how they live in their natural habitat. Well, they like to sleep most of the time. I think they come close to being lazy like sloths. She did enjoy seeing monkeys swinging from tree to tree and playing with the many diverse toys. The most amazing experience came when she saw elephants up close. These massive animals are so incredibly huge that she seemed like a little ant. The most impressive experience was when she was feeding a giraffe. Their long tongue stretching as far as it could to grab some crackers.

Image Courtesy of Barbara’s Talented Husband

But the most dramatic point was when she saw Shamu at SeaWorld. This magnificent mammal was so striking to see. The way his body glides in the water like he owns the water tank brings a new respect to whales in the ocean. To see Shamu, the killer whale or Orca, take drastic jumps from the water and land safely on his back was quite brilliant. But I supposed his agility could be related to his cousin, the bottle-nosed dolphin. Yet, it is still so impressive to see the 9,000 pound Orca whale accomplish its acrobatic tricks.

However, the highlight of our family vacation was when my daughter and I were feeding stingrays. These docile winged fish feed on your attention like no other. And, of course, they like to be fed a certain snack: sardines. As we approached the edge of the water pool where these creatures swim, we were unaware how much water they can splash. But the splash of water was not the main concern. It was the way they wanted to be fed: by holding the tail of the fish so that they can gently swim up to the edge and grab it from your hand. Be aware. Don’t let their snack just drop to the water or hold it the wrong way. In doing this task, you will only waste the few sardines you hold in your tray. Stingrays will not touch the fish snacks that fall to the bottom of the water pool. It is not that they are lazy but in fact they lack the mobility to do so.

While meeting these amazing animals, our experience was like no other family vacation and we wish to go back someday…

About the author: Barbara Mascareno has science degrees in Biochemistry and Chemistry. She has taught under the NCLB program and she is currently an educator in Spanish, Science, and Math. You can learn more by visiting her blog, Spanish4kiddos, or connecting on Twitter @spanish4kiddos.


Thank you, Barbara, for entertaining us with your family adventures at the San Diego Zoo and Sea World.

For everyone else, I’ll be back with Wildcard Wednesday tomorrow. Until then…

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  • TheSweetKitten

    I went to Sea World in Orlando about ten years ago, and I still have some vivid memories about touching the dolphins and seeing the big whales!

    • spanish4kiddos

      @TheSweetKitten Oh, how fun that must have been. SeaWorld in Orlando is one the best places to visit. They rescue so many animals and it's a sanctuary for many species. I hope you got to visit Dolphin Encounter, which is also a dolphin sanctuary.

    • Amberr Meadows

      Kitten, I went to Sea World in Orlando with a messed up foot, and the experience was miserable. I will be going back!

  • spanish4kiddos

    @Amberr, thank you so much for allowing me to share my family vacation memories. It's truly an honor to be here. I hope that one day your daughter can see the magic of seeing these amazing in person.

    • Amberr Meadows

      Barbara, it was such a pleasure to share your memories here, and I will make sure my daughter gets there one day. ;-)

  • legendsofgreenisle

    Took my kids to the one in San Antonio. Brings back memories. :)

    • spanish4kiddos

      We haven't visited this one but I'm sure the whole family had tons of fun.

  • peterhobbs1

    One of my dream trips, thanks for the information on it, now I really need to go.

    • Amberr Meadows

      Peter, let me know if you ever make it.

  • Mary Kirkland

    When I was younger I lived in California and we went to the zoo's, Sea World ect..I think these are great places to go with the family.

    • Amberr Meadows

      Mary, my only gripe with these things? Outrageous prices.