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Videos: The San Diego Zoo Celebrates Its 100th Birthday

One of the residents of the San Diego Zoo. (Photo by fortherock via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
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Among our nation's zoos, the San Diego Zoo is regarded as one of the true gems. It's constantly cited as being one of the best zoos in the U.S. And for good reason too: aside from hosting more than 800 species, the area is also an accredited botanical garden with more than 1 million plants.

As noted at the San Diego Union Tribune, the zoo had very humble beginnings. The animals were largely donated by seamen who'd collected animals through their travels. For some reason, a bunch of sailors and Navy officials were in possession of black bears, and one of the zoo's first bears—donated by the Navy— was transported on the passenger's seat of a car. Fast forward to today, and the zoo now has leopards and giraffes, which we assume were not carted over in a Camry.

The zoo turned 100 on Sunday, and to celebrate they put on a small gala. There was a lion-themed cake. A talking parrot named Rio was brought out to greet the audience (it only managed to say "hello," which was a little underwhelming). Here are a couple videos of the celebration:

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While the zoo celebrates its centennial, there's a sense that zoos exist at a crossroads these days. After the release of the documentary Blackfish, there was a big backlash directed at the treatment of sea mammals kept in tight confines. Seaworld later agreed to end its killer whale shows. In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that banned breeding whales in captivity.