Photographing the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Do you remember your last trip before the Pandemic of 2020. The world has changed a lot in the last three years. I certainly remember ours. In was March 12-14, 2020. We went to the Carlsbad state Beach, the Carlsbad Flower Fields, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly Wild Animal Park), and had a couple of great dinners out. Little did we know this would be our last trip for almost a year.

The Safari Park is 45 minutes north from downtown San Diego. It’s easy to get to and we have found has plenty of parking. It is pretty easy to see the whole park and all the animals in one day. We were very fortunate that on this day, it was cool and a bit overcast which is perfect for photographing animals. We have probably been here a half dozen times and this last trip was the best one. Here are some highlights and recommendations.

We love the flamingoes and can shoot them for hours, but try to limit ourselves to 15-20 minutes. They look great in color and infrared.

The elephants were pretty active on this day and it’s always a treat when there is a baby running around.

It is hard not to think of the gorillas anthropomorphically. They just look and act like us so much. Or is it we act and look like them so much? Another cute baby.

Always take the tram ride. There are plenty of animals on the plain and sometimes you get lucky with a close encounter with a rhinoceros or a giraffe.

The highlight of the day was the two lioness that came out from the glass enclosure and lounged and played on the old range rover. Mary and I kept looking at each other “like this is unbelievably cool.” Usually they stay behind a thick reflective glass and in a small space with few places for you or a tripod. As you can see, Mary had the platform to herself (except for me).

Some more favorites and more babies.

Equipment wise, we were using our Fujifilm XT-2s with 100-400 mm lenses and we also had 1.4x extenders for extra long shots.

Can’t wait to go back again. Here is their website if you want to plan a visit:

To see more of and buy our photographs, please go to and check out more of our photos on FLICKR.

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