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San Diego Zoo: ‘Roar & Snore’ camping

sleepover
Ever dreamed of going to Africa to see wild animals in their native habitats? No need for passports at the “Roar and Snore” program at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park in Escondido, Calif. Here, kids and their parents get to camp within shouting distance of African elephants, Sumatran tigers, African lions and curvy-horned cape buffaloes. The park is one of many entities in Southern California that offers sleepover programs to educate and entertain. (Fred Greaves / For The Times)
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Campers congregate in front of their tents at the Wild Animal Park. Some of the aluminum-frame tents are pitched on a bluff overlooking the park’s “African Field Exhibit,” a wide, flat grassland. Others are grouped nearby. (Fred Greaves / For The Times)
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G’day, mate: A blue-tongued skink, a lizard from Australia, stars in a show-and-tell presentation especially for the “Roar and Snore” crowd. Although the presentation had an elementary-school feel to it, it fascinated adults too. Other critters likely to receive their 15 minutes of fame are a tawny frogmouth (an Australian bird that resembles an owl) and a springhaas (an African rodent that looks like a cross between a mouse and a kangaroo). (Fred Greaves / For The Times)
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Some of the park’s graceful giraffes munch down on leafy branches tied to telephone poles in their Wild Animal Park enclosure. The sleepover is popular. It gives guests what they want: greater access to the park, including special presentations and the chance to get a bit closer to some of the animals. (Fred Greaves / For The Times)
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Hovering near the “Roar and Snore” campground is the Wild Animal Park’s Balloon Safari, a tethered helium-filled balloon that offers riders a panoramic view of the animals. (Fred Greaves / For The Times)
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Munch, munch, munch. A park visitor gets a close-up view of a giraffe’s eating habits. Park workers had tied leafy branches to telephone poles in the animals’ enclosure. (Fred Greaves / For The Times)
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First the s’mores, then the snores. Campers gather around a fire pit to munch on the gooey treats and learn a thing or two about animal bones, tusks and horns. Then it’s off to slumber land. If you can. The distant squawking, crowing and roaring — as well as nearby snores from animals of the human variety — kept at least one dad awake on a recent visit. (Fred Greaves / For The Times)
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Campers Chaska Kentish, left, and Allison Hennessey see San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park after dark. The overnight trip caused one giddy young camper to exclaim, “They should call this the happiest place on Earth.” (Fred Greaves / For The Times)
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