Cuteness Overload! Visit the New Baby Animals at San Diego Zoo & Safari Park

Get ready to coo and ahh your way through the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park while visiting the new, adorable baby animals on display. Get a peek here at Taj the greater one-horned rhino calf, Leslie the baby gorilla, Tombi and Ilangha, the cheetah cub sisters, a mandrill baby named Ajani and a Rodrigues fruit bat pup named Lucas. Their pictures are too cute for words, but seeing them in person can’t be beat!

gorilla-san-diego-zoo-safari-park                                                                                                                                              Photo: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Look at that sweet little face! Leslie is the baby “girl-illa” of doting and attentive mother, Kokomo, who holds her close constantly. Leslie’s father Winston protects the troop of eight critically endangered gorillas at the Safari Park. Since 229- pound Kokomo is often toting Leslie in her arms, be sure to check there first to catch a glimpse of this little bundle of joy.

cheetah-cubs-san-diego-zoo-safari-parkPhoto: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Who else wishes they could cuddle this darling duo? These cheetah cubs are named Tombi, which means “girl” in Zulu, and Ilangha, which means “sunshine” in Zulu. The mother of these spotted sisters would not care for them, so they are being raised by animal care staff at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where they can been seen in their nursery at Nairobi Station between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Zulu and Ilangha will eventually end up at the San Diego Zoo to join the sustainable cheetah population the Zoo has been building for over 40 years, but for now they’re enjoying plenty of playtime and nap time.

rhino-taj-san-diego-zoo-safari-parkPhoto: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Taj means “crown” or “jewel” in Hindi, and this male rhino’s birth is vital, as he joins only 3,500 greater one-horned rhinos that remain the wild. Since 1975, Taj is the 70th greater one-horned rhino to be born at the Safari Park, which is the most prolific breeding facility in the world for this species. Taj nurses from his mother Tanaya about twelve times a day. As an herbivore he will graduate to eating grasses, hay and pellets. He weighed a whopping 160 pounds at birth and he currently weighs around 275 pounds! When Taj is fully-grown at 3 years of age, he’ll weigh in between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds! Visit Taj in all his splendor at the Safari Park.

mandrill-baby-san-diego-zooPhoto: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Look at that adorable mandrill baby, Ajani, clinging to his mama, Kesi! This little guy is the first mandrill born at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park in fourteen years, where more than 34 mandrills have been born since mandrills first arrived at the zoo in 1923. Visit mom Kesi, dad Jasper and their new baby boy at the zoo on Monkey Trail in Lost Forest.

bat-pup-san-diego-zooPhoto: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

This critically endangered Rodrigues fruit bat pup named Lucas was born via C-section, and sadly his mother did not survive. The Safari Park staff are caring for him around the clock, and he’s shown here clinging to his “sock mom.” Caring for the orphaned fruit bat is no easy feat. His body temperature must be carefully regulated in a controlled incubator that keeps him warm and provides enough humidity to keep his wings pliable. He eats every two hours, and feedings last up to 45 minutes. Afterwards, Lucas gets bathed using a damp cotton ball, and then he’s wrapped in a warm blanket that cradles him like his mother’s wings would have. Meet this marvel at the Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Dr.
San Diego, Ca

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd.
San Diego, Ca

Which baby animal are you going to visit first? Have any of you already met one of these cuties?

––Beth Shea

Just Opened: “Be the Astronaut” Exhibit Launches Kids into an Outer Space Adventure

Just Opened: “Be the Astronaut” Exhibit Launches Kids into an Outer Space Adventure


Your little explorers are used to high-flying adventures around town. Blast off to one more expedition at the brand-new interactive exhibit, Be the Astronaut at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. NASA experts helped design this stellar experience where your kids will virtually launch a rocket, pilot a spaceship and drive a surface rover. Your out-of-this-world adventure begins in 3…2…1…


1,2,3 Steps to 3,2,1, Blast Off
Kids will love having a hands-on role in this exhibit. There are three courses, Moon, Mars or Jupiter & Asteroids, that are divided into separate missions, with options such as: fly to the moon, land on the moon, or drive a rover on the moon. Each mission cycles through three different station types: NAV, SCI and FLY. Kids can get an Astronaut ID swipe card to use at each of these stations to track their journey. The ID card is theirs to keep, so they can return to the exhibit and pick up where they left off and continue their mission.


Mission Control at Their Fingertips
The exhibit features eight navigation stations, eight science stations and sixteen fly stations that are all equipped with touchscreens and a joystick controller to make navigation a cinch for tech-savvy kids. At the NAV station (short for celestial navigation), kids plan their mission. At the SCI station (short for science and technology), kids learn about space travel machines, the science of astronomy, and about how astronauts stay healthy and safe in outer space. The FLY station is where they’ll enter the simulator module, immersed in visual, lighting and sound effects to fly the spacecraft on the flight path they designed.

Virtual astronauts are on-screen and along for the ride to advise and educate your young pilots with instructions and narrations on the journey, offering insights such as “we’re about to break the sound barrier,” and “we are moving at 25,000 miles an hour now.”

Insider’s Tip: Younger kids will be in awe of this exhibit, but older children will be more equipped to comprehend the science and intricacies of each mission and better able to accurately navigate a mission at one of the flight stations.


Above and Beyond
Beyond the thirty-two stations, the Be the Astronaut exhibit has additional points of interest including a life-size spacesuit, and displays that explain more about the challenges, dangers and current research into space travel. Other topics visitors will learn about include food and nutrition for astronauts in space, the effects of microgravity on the human body, and the dangers of radiation.


More Lunar Learning
The museum’s permanent Apollo 9 exhibit, located just before the entrance to the Be the Astronaut exhibit, is also a must-see. The real Apollo 9 command module (pictured above) is located here, and visitors get an up close view inside of it, and a real feel for the tight quarters in which astronauts travel. You’ll also see the transcripts and hear authentic voice recordings of the astronauts on this mission playing in the background. Don’t miss the collection of moon rocks brought back from the Apollo 11, 15 and 17 missions!

San Diego Air & Space Museum
2001 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, Ca 92101
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mon.-Sun.
Cost: $19.75/adults; $10.75/children 3-11 years; Free for children under 2
Note: The Be the Astronaut Exhibit costs an additional $5/person on top of the regular admission fee.

Will you check out this new exhibit? What are your insider tips for visiting the Air & Space Museum? 

Copy and Photos: Beth Shea

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