For the third week of the summer session, our group went to the San Francisco Zoo. The zoo is 100-acres large, home to more than a thousand individual animals. We took our time to explore the different exhibits, taking pictures of the exotic animals.

We first made our way to the Exploration Zone, where we saw animals such as the black-tailed prairie dogs and the meerkats. There was also a farm, with the classic farm animals like pigs and chickens. There was even an area where sheep and goats could roam freely and visitors could interact with them, using a brush that was provided to groom them. We took the opportunity to pet some goats and brush them before leaving the farm.

Next, we visited the Insect Zoo. There were many glass tanks on display, each housing a different species of insects or arachnids. This exhibit was honestly interesting and appalling at the same time. They had three species of cockroaches, one of which was the normal cockroach you would commonly find in Singapore, while the other two species were even bigger, more horrifying than any cockroach we have ever seen. We were extremely grateful for the glass barriers. Other than the cockroaches, we viewed tarantulas, scorpions, hermit crabs, thorny phasmids, white-eyed assassin bugs and other rare insects.

After the mildly terrifying experience, we went to the South American Tropical Rainforest & Aviary. True to its name, it felt like we had just walked into a tropical rainforest, with colourful birds flying about and resting on branches of tall trees. The exhibit had a huge variety of birds, from macaws to aracaris to piping guans. In addition, the exhibit had many reptiles, tropical frogs and snakes. There was an anaconda that had caught the crowd’s attention, as everyone gathered outside its tank to take a picture with it. In another corner of the exhibit lies a lazy sloth on a tree branch. At first, we did not notice it as it was not moving. However, when it started to move (really slowly), other visitors were pointing and gasping at it, bringing our attention to it. It was rather amusing to look at it climb the tree branch, since it was so slow it was almost comical.

We left the exhibit and started walking to the Bear Country. We passed by a sea lion and admired it as it swam round and round, occasionally twirling its body as if it was putting up a show for us. Further down, we saw wolves, bears and peccaries. We also spotted an eagle amid a group of pelicans. We settled down in a nearby café to have pizza for lunch, which was surprisingly reasonably priced.

The next stop was the Cat Kingdom. Aside from the usual lions and tigers, we also saw snow leopards, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, anteaters, bongos and wolverines amongst others. However, most of the big cats were sleeping when we were there; only a handful were awake and active to entertain the visitors.

We entered the Lemur Forest and were surprised by the different kinds of lemurs the zoo had to offer. We managed to spot the black-and-white ruffed lemur, red-fronted brown lemur, red ruffed lemur and ring-tailed lemur. Nearby, there was an enclosure with sifakas, which looked very similar to the lemurs. One of the sifakas was especially active, doing stunts that impressed those watching. It climbed the net that separated the visitors from it, reaching the top of the building next to the enclosure before jumping a good distance. As it landed on the tree branch in the middle of the enclosure, we all cheered in amazement. We continued our tour in the zoo, taking a look at the gorillas, chimpanzees and even mandrills.

The last zone to explore was the African Region. There were giraffes, zebras and ostriches. We walked around the area to get a better view of the animals, and unexpectedly found more animals like cranes and kudus.

The zoo was truly a fun place. One might say that it was educational. We saw some animals that we had never heard of before, learnt more about endangered species, and even got to pet some adorable animals like ferrets. It was a memorable experience and definitely worth every cent!

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