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San Francisco Zoo

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Donald Yungling, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. Hello,

    It looks like myself, my better half, and our two grandsons will be making a visit to the San Francisco zoo this coming Monday (06-21-2007). What I am asking is if I should try lugging the 70-200 lens or just use the 18-200, the 18-200 is coming no matter what. Would there be places where the extra stops and quality of the 70-200 lens would make the difference of getting or missing a shot? I have never been to this zoo so I do not know what to expect. I have searched this forum and found some great photo's so I am looking forward to a wonderful experience.

    Thanks and take care.
  2. haze2


    Mar 18, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I recently took my oldest daughter and 3 granddaughters to the Phoenix Zoo. Even with the bright AZ sun I was glad I had the 80-200 2.8. I carried it over my shoulder on a monopod. Can't wait to see some of you shots!
  3. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005


    Take the 70-200! San Francisco Zoo has the best Penguin display I have ever seen - and I've seen most of the larger zoos in North America. Go online to the San Francisco Zoo before your trip and read about the antique train. It is amazing! Penguins are on an island - it is fantastic. They interact, and play together - you will love it! It is a huge display.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    1-Find out the FREE ADMISSION DAY on their website and AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE!! I have been to Lincoln Park in Chicago (free every day) and at other zoos on FREE day, but never experienced the rudeness where the parents with strollers would push in with kids in tow, knock your arm. It happened time after time. There were so many people at SF Zoo on free day you could barely walk in the afternoon! I am not kidding. GRIDLOCK!!

    2-The zoo is right next to the ocean. The wind chill here is severe! It is NOT like Fisherman's Wharf, it's MUCH COLDER. Long pants, long shirt, layer, and jacket are the MINIMUM. Most had a winter coat.

    3-Since the Penguin Island is the #1 attraction, go there early and shoot, come back later and shoot to catch the sun in different positions.

    4-Be sure to capture images of the train! The San Francisco Zoo is home to one of the world’s only old-fashioned miniature steam trains, affectionately known as "Little Puffer" by generations of San Francisco Zoo visitors
    5-Look for the gorilla with a "trumpet" shaped nose. It is bright pink, as his private area! (my wife pointed that out). 200mm is perfect to see him.

    6-Giraffes have a nice area to play - these guys love to chew on bark at this zoo.

    7-There are a couple warthogs, not as active as some, but a must see.

    Enjoy!! We will be visiting this zoo right after you, so I would appreciate a post or PM if you discover anything in particular that you want to share.

    Dodge the strollers!

    ... and take that 70-200!!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 16, 2007
  4. Yup...the 70-200 loves the zoo.
  5. Wow!!

    Great replies everyone.
    Today I ended up replacing my Pelican case with a shoulder bag for carrying my gear. This should make it easier to bring both lenses. I also like the idea of bringing along a monopod. After reading gadgetguy's description of his experience at the SF zoo I should be well prepared for my journey. By the way I have a little experience with steam powered trains. Check out my webpage listed in my sig.

    Thanks all and take care.
  6. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005

    Loved the steam powered train section on your site!!!

    BTW, if you - or anyone - is a member of a zoo anywhere in the country, chances are, you will get a reciprocal discount to most zoos in the country. SF Zoo is 50% discount for Louisville Zoo members, in our case.

    Don, the first Wednesday of the month is free day. So you should miss that!
  7. I checked out www.sfzoo.org. It's great site. Reading about the Little Puffer sure brought back memories. My Mom and Grandmother used to take me to the SF zoo in the 1940's . I remember the event of every trip was to ride the train. Cost a dime and since that was a lot, I could only ride it twice each trip to the zoo.

    I'm sure you'll get lots of great shots. I'm looking forward to seeing them. By all means, take the 70-200 VR lens. You'll need it when an animal is standing in the shade at the far side of their compound.

  8. Thanks for all the information. We will be hitting the zoo late July. My 70-300mm VR will have to do the job.
  9. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    That is a sweet lens, John. You will be pleased!
  10. Just got home from that zoo.

    Not sure there's any reason to bring a camera, let alone a lens.


    Must be the most empty, sad zoo I've ever seen. Not that the zoos bustling with animals are uplifting or anything.

    The grizzly bears were interesting I suppose.
  11. Donald, the SF zoo is next to the ocean, it is often foggy or overcast. If it is on the day of your visit, you'll have difficulty getting crisp shots with a slow telephoto lens, like the long end of the 18-200.

    Here's my gallery of shots from the SF zoo, to give you an idea of the residents you might run into.

  12. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    Awesome images! Pretty unscrupulous characters you were with though, Frank!

    I love DSC_4658. The tiger's expression is killer!

    Every zoo trip is fun and relaxing. Haven't been to SF Zoo in 3 years. Can't wait!
  13. Those are very nice, UF. Wish I had seen that mandril today.
  14. Maybe you visited at a bad time of the day. I've found plenty of interesting subjects at the SF Zoo.

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  15. I think it was just so crowded with people today, the animals all hid.

    Miss the elephants too.
  16. Crowded conditions might explain it. I always visit during the week... one of the advantages of being retired :) .
  17. Damn!!! Great photo's.

    Your pictures also answered one of my unasked questions, and that was if I would be allowed in the zoo with my monopod. Had the grandsons over today and the oldest wasn't feeling well, if he is better by tomorrow we should be heading West and arriving around noon. We're going to come in from the North so the boys can see the GG Bridge up close and personal.

    Thanks everyone for the overwhelming response to my inquiry.

    Take care.
  18. I kept thinking we need to do this on a Wednesday.

    There is also the added fuss of a 5 and 3 year old. I end up spending most of my time keeping an eye on them, especially when it is crowded.

    The wait for the train was over an hour. Took over two to get into the zoo, so for a while we went across the way and flew a kite.

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  19. SF Zoo ok; also try the Oakland Zoo

    I understand your reaction to the SF Zoo. Lot's of it was built with National Recovery Act money (I think) in the 30s/40s. So it has an old-school zoo feel to it in some areas. However, there are some very nice new parts as well. In particular I really like African savanna exhibit. Although, I do find the big cat area to be a bit depressing, you can get some very cool shots. Here is my small flickr set from SF Zoo:


    You may also want to check out the Oakland Zoo, which, if I remember correctly, we liked a bit better.


  20. genehsu


    Apr 15, 2007
    My favorite area in the zoo is the children's area, and in that, the Raptor exhibit. You can be literally within 3 feet of any of the birds. The meerkat and prairie dog exhibits are nice photo spots as well in the children's zoo area. With small children, the family farm is a good place go get expressions as they discover what they're allowed to do with the animals. If you're there on the weekend in the summer, the nature trail and/or the resource center are good things to explore.

    The new grizzly area should be finished pretty soon. Right around the bears is a rehabilitation area for sea lions/seals. I like taking the high road in the middle to see if we can see the lemurs, because they don't like to come out a whole lot. It's almost best to go on a rainy/cold day because there won't be a lot of people and the light is better.

    The definitely let you take whatever camera equipment you care to hold into the zoo. I've seen several people take tripods in and stake out different animals throughout the zoo. It's a bit less convenient in the children's zoo area because there are so many little ones running around.

    My examples are here:
    My SF Zoo shots
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