The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

Animals of the San Diego Zoo

Los Angeles Times photographer Mark Boster spent several days roaming the grounds of the San Diego Zoo in September 2013. Here are portrait-like glimpses of his intimate encounters with some of its more than 3,700 feathery, scaly, long-necked, poisonous and adorable animals. More photos | Read about the San Diego Zoo

Emerald tree boa: The emerald tree boa, from South America, isn’t green all over; it has a yellow belly — a coloring, not a commentary on its bravery.

Galapagos tortoise: The giant tortoises of the Galapagos are said to live as long as 150 years.

Giant panda: The giant panda spends as much as two-thirds of its day eating, and its favorite food is bamboo, even though it has the digestive system of a carnivore.

California condor: Look! Up in the sky! It's one big bird. California condors can have a wingspan of 9½ feet and their bodies may be as long as 4 feet.

Gorilla: The gorilla isn't really aggressive. It can be shy; the chest beating is a way of protecting its family.

Caribbean flamingos: Yum! In Rome of old, the tongues of flamingos were considered a little like caviar is thought of today: They were considered a rare treat.

Secretary bird: Secretary birds’ favorite food? Snakes. They stomp on them or, sometimes, drop them from above.

Meerkat: The meerkat is a member of the mongoose family and generally lives underground to protect itself from jackals and raptors.

Palm cockatoo: The cockatoo’s sharp beak can crack the shells of nuts, and it also has a strong tongue.

Black-legged poison dart frog: Don't let the big eyes and warm colors fool you. The poison on the skin of these dart frogs is so potent that less than one one-millionth of an ounce may be enough to kill a human.

Lion: The lion may think of itself as king, but it’s actually not the largest cat; the tiger is.

Elephant:Elephants eat, breathe and drink through their noses. How awkward that would be for humans!

Koala: Like the baby kangaroo, the koala baby is called a joey, which also spends the first part of its life in its mother’s pouch.

Lorikeet: What does the lorikeet like to eat? Nectar and pollen, which it consumes with the help of its brush-like tongue.

Giraffe: Male giraffes are big eaters: They often consume as much as 145 pounds of food a day. Their heads can weigh as much as 66 pounds.

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