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latimes.com

Newt Gingrich makes campaign detour at San Diego Zoo

By Tony Perry

6:17 PM PST, February 14, 2012

Reporting from San Diego

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For the record: Yes, that was Newt Gingrich at the San Diego Zoo on Tuesday for a 90-minute behind-the-scenes tour.

Gingrich was in the area raising money for his bid for the Republican presidential nomination but found time to visit the zoo, including feeding a young panda, looking at elephants, polar bears and tigers, and posing for pictures with zoo staffers.

Gingrich has made other visits to the zoo and Safari Park, including a sleepover at the park's Snore and Roar program.

A stop at the zoo is a kind of tradition for presidents and presidential hopefuls. Bill, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton visited the zoo and Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park).

And in the early stages of the 2008 campaign, Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha visited the zoo.

The Gingrich visit was planned at the last moment with no public announcement, lest he draw a crowd. Of course, the large Gingrich for President bus with his picture on the side, parked outside the zoo's entrance, may have been a tipoff.