Famous animal celebrities at the San Diego Zoo!

Balboa Park visitors walk down main hallway of Casa de Balboa, past posters featuring some animal celebrities of the world-famous San Diego Zoo!
Balboa Park visitors walk down main hallway of Casa de Balboa, past posters featuring some animal celebrities of the world-famous San Diego Zoo!

There’s a fun new exhibit at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park. It’s called The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo. Like beautiful Balboa Park itself, the world-famous San Diego Zoo originated in 1915. Last year was its centennial!

Along the main hallway inside the Casa de Balboa, near the entrance to the San Diego History Center, visitors can enjoy a series of posters that feature some of the zoo’s beloved animal celebrities. Here they are!

Banner on Casa de Balboa near entrance to San Diego History Center. The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo.
Banner on Casa de Balboa, home of several museums including the San Diego History Center. The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo.
Carol the Asian elephant appeared with San Diego Zoo goodwill ambassador Joan Embery on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Carol was also an illustrious painter!
Carol the Asian elephant.  She appeared with San Diego Zoo goodwill ambassador Joan Embery on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Carol was also an illustrious painter!
Hua Mei is a superstar giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo in 1999. Her name means China USA. She now lives in China.
Hua Mei is a superstar giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo in 1999. Her name means “China USA”. She now lives in China.
Diego the Galapagos tortoise, now 130 years old, half a century ago was one of very few surviving males of the critically endangered species. Over many years, he's had roughly 1,700 offspring!
Diego the Galapagos tortoise, now 130 years old, half a century ago was one of very few surviving males of the critically endangered species. Over the ensuing years, he’s produced roughly 1,700 offspring!
Arusha and Anna were a cheetah and dog pair at the San Diego Zoo. They were the best of friends.
Arusha and Anna were a cheetah and dog pair at the San Diego Zoo. They were the best of friends.
Taku was the first polar bear born at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, back in 1942.
Taku was the first polar bear born at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, back in 1942.
Alvila was first western lowland gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1965. This animal celebrity has been a favorite through the years.
Alvila was the first western lowland gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1965. This animal celebrity has been a big favorite through the years.
King Tut, a salmon-crested cockatoo, was the San Diego Zoo’s official greeter for forty years! He also appeared on television and in theatrical productions!
King Tut, a salmon-crested cockatoo, was the San Diego Zoo’s official greeter for forty years! He also appeared on television and in theatrical productions!
Puddles the river hippopotamus was a crowd favorite at the San Diego Zoo in the 1930s and 1940s.
Puddles the river hippopotamus was a crowd favorite at the San Diego Zoo in the 1930s and 1940s.

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Artistic ceramic tiles and a free treasure hunt!

Tile in a unique sign made out of ceramic, which welcomes visitors to Spanish Village Art Center in beautiful Balboa Park.
Tiles in a large ceramic sign, which welcomes visitors to Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park.

A treasure hunt is coming up this weekend in Balboa Park! The event takes place on Valentine’s Day (Sunday, February 14) and is courtesy of the artists of Spanish Village!

The free treasure hunt, which is open to absolutely anyone, is called the 2nd Annual Spanish Village Art Abandonment. Between 11am and 4pm, Balboa Park visitors will be able to find (and keep) free works of art hidden all around the park! If you’re lucky enough to discover a unique piece of art, you’ll be able to track where you found it online!

Please follow the WordPress blog of my artist friends at Spanish Village!

https://spanishvillageartinspiration.wordpress.com/

Just for fun, I’ve taken close-up photos of colorful ceramic tiles that beautify locations around Balboa Park. These works of art, while not part of the treasure hunt, can be easily found by anyone! Please read the captions to learn more…

Close-up photo of some tiles along the curving base of a small fountain in the Alcazar Garden.
Close-up photo of some tiles along the curving base of a small fountain in the Alcazar Garden.
Complex symmetric designs, which seem to contain Moorish influence. These tiles adorn one bench near that same fountain.
Complex symmetric designs, which seem to contain Moorish influence. These tiles adorn one bench near that same fountain.
A single weathered tile at the edge of the fountain.
A single weathered tile at the edge of the fountain.
The small, ornate fountain and two of its benches, alive with delightful color.
The small, ornate fountain and two of its benches, alive with delightful color.
These decorative floral tiles are along the base of a second fountain in Balboa Park's very popular Alcazar Garden.
These decorative floral tiles are along the base of a second fountain in Balboa Park’s very popular Alcazar Garden.
Multiple ceramic tiles depict different flowers. You can spot these in the Casa del Prado courtyard in Balboa Park.
Multiple ceramic tiles depict different flowers. You can spot these in the Casa del Prado courtyard in Balboa Park.
A wider view of the cheerful flower tiles.
A wider view of the cheerful flower tiles.
These brightly painted "tiles" form a multicolored patio between the many artist studios in Spanish Village.
These brightly painted “tiles” form the multicolored patio between artist studios in Spanish Village.
A blue bird in a slightly faded ceramic tile near the base of a Spanish Village planter.
A blue bird in a faded ceramic tile, embedded in the base of a Spanish Village patio planter.
Another weathered tile, in the same planter.
Another weathered tile, in the same planter.
This tile in one Spanish Village planter is dedicated to the San Diego Enamel Guild, dated 1989.
This tile in one Spanish Village planter is dedicated to the San Diego Enamel Guild, dated 1989.
Another faded tile remembers a loved one.
Another time-faded tile remembers a loved one.
A fun tile under a bench just outside the door of Studio 13 in Spanish Village. It appears to have been created by an imaginative child.
A fun tile under a bench just outside the door of Studio 13 in Spanish Village. It appears to have been created by an imaginative child.
The fantastic front of Studio 13.
The fantastic front of Studio 13.
These tiles are embedded in an otherwise plain concrete bench on the east side of the Casa del Prado.
These tiles are embedded in an otherwise plain concrete bench on the east side of the Casa del Prado.
Very colorful ceramic tiles are part of a cascading fountain at the end of a walkway between the Casa de Balboa and the House of Hospitality.
Brightly colorful ceramic tiles, part of a cascading fountain at the end of a walkway between the Casa de Balboa and the House of Hospitality.
Unusual designs in the tile border of an information sign, just outside the Casa del Rey Moro Garden in Balboa Park.
Unusual designs in the tile border of an information sign, just outside the Casa del Rey Moro Garden in Balboa Park.
A classic, quiet fountain in the Casa del Rey Moro Garden is surrounded by stylish tiles.
A classic, quiet fountain in the Casa del Rey Moro Garden is surrounded by stylish tiles.
Close-up photo of the colorful ceramic tiles around the recessed fountain.
Close-up photo of the beautiful ceramic tiles around the recessed fountain.
The large fountain at the center of the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park has a band of elegant tilework.
The large fountain at the center of the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park has two bands of very elegant tilework.
More wonderful artistry. Balboa Park contains unexpected beauty at every turn.
More wonderful artistry. Balboa Park contains unexpected beauty at every turn.

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Beautiful gems, minerals and jewelry in Balboa Park!

Beautiful geodes, crystals, gems, minerals, agates, fossils and jewelry can be found in a very cool place in Balboa Park.
Beautiful geodes, crystals, gems, minerals, agates, fossils and jewelry can be found in a very cool place in Balboa Park.

Okay, I admit it. Possibly my very favorite place in Balboa Park is filled with rocks. Really beautiful rocks! And gems and fossils and jewelry and carvings . . .

Yes, I’m talking about the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society Museum, which is located at the north end of Spanish Village. Anyone who “digs” the beautiful natural productions of Mother Earth needs to drop on by. It’s free! And those who want to learn about the lapidary arts should seriously look into joining the society or taking classes. They’ve got a well-equipped lapidary workshop in one room where members facet and carve and polish . . . turning gems, metal and minerals into treasures fit for royalty.

An open door beckons near Balboa Park's Spanish Village. San Diego Mineral and Gem Society and Village Silversmith's Welcome You!
An open door beckons near Balboa Park’s Spanish Village. San Diego Mineral and Gem Society and Village Silversmith’s Welcome You!
Lots of handmade jewelry and polished or faceted gems and semi-precious stones can be found in the glass counter display. There's also lots of literature for rockhounds.
Lots of handmade jewelry, gems and semi-precious stones can be found in the glass counter display. There’s also lots of literature for rockhounds.
Any hobbyists interested in collecting rocks and minerals, or learning lapidary skills should swing on by.
Any hobbyists interested in collecting rocks and minerals, or learning lapidary skills should swing on by.
Balboa Park visitors examine some exquisite handcrafted jewelry for sale.
Balboa Park visitors examine some exquisite handcrafted jewelry for sale.
Throughout the amazing San Diego Mineral and Gem Societies' Museum you can see all sorts of beautiful geological specimens.
Throughout the amazing San Diego Mineral and Gem Societies’ Museum you can see all sorts of beautiful geological specimens.
Pieces in this diorama are made of carved Serpentine.
Pieces in this diorama are made of carved Serpentine.
Carefully made Quartz spheres dazzle with natural color. With a little added light they glow, appearing like magic crystal balls!
Carefully made Quartz spheres dazzle with natural color. With a little added light they glow, appearing like magic crystal balls!
A natural history-themed diorama made of agates and crystals. It was created in the late 19th century, and is a unique artifact in this cool museum.
A natural history-themed diorama made of agates and crystals. It was created in the late 19th century, and is a unique artifact in this cool museum.
Sign provides some info about the above Natural History Diorama. It was built by Mr. Fred W. Woodend I while he was operating a curio and mineral shop in Denver, Colorado.
Sign provides some info about the above Natural History Diorama. It was built by Mr. Fred W. Woodend I while he was operating a curio and mineral shop in Denver, Colorado.
This big display case against one wall has lots of colorful minerals, including Calcite, Hematite, Halite and Wulfenite.
This big display case against one wall has lots of colorful minerals, including Calcite, Hematite, Halite and Wulfenite.
Primitive Fossil Bird, Confuciusornis sanctus, Early Cretaceous, 120-125 million years old! These early birds retain many primitive dinosaurian features.
Primitive Fossil Bird, Confuciusornis sanctus, Early Cretaceous, 120-125 million years old! These early birds retain many primitive dinosaurian features.
Among a bunch of fossils is a fossilized pine cone!
Among a bunch of fossils is a fossilized pine cone!
A variety of cool sights on display, including a slab of petrified wood.
A variety of beautiful things on display, including a slab of petrified wood.
It's impossible for visitors to miss this portion of a fossilized skull. It's from a Right or Bowhead Whale, which lived in the Pliocene Epoch 1 to 11 million years ago!
It’s impossible for visitors to miss this portion of a fossilized skull. It’s from a Right or Bowhead Whale, which lived in the Pliocene Epoch 1 to 11 million years ago!
Amazing work by Johnny Johnson, a long time member of the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society, and member of the Gem Carvers Guild of America.
Amazing work by Johnny Johnson, a long time member of the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society, and member of the Gem Carvers Guild of America.
Examples of fantastic stone carving by society members.
Examples of fantastic stone carving by society members.
Chasing and Repousse on copper, a skill learned in advanced silversmithing classes.
Chasing and Repousse on copper, a skill learned in advanced silversmithing classes.
More small treasures in the museum upon which you can feast your eyes.
More small treasures in the museum upon which you can feast your eyes.
The San Diego Mineral and Gem Society has classes where you can learn cabochon cutting, faceting, silver fabrication, casting, enameling, bead stringing, rock carving, and sphere making.
The San Diego Mineral and Gem Society has classes where you can learn cabochon cutting, faceting, silver fabrication, casting, enameling, bead stringing, rock carving, and sphere making.

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A beautiful garden few visitors see in Balboa Park.

A rare visitor enjoys the rugged 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden behind the Balboa Park Club.
A rare visitor enjoys the rugged 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden behind the Balboa Park Club.

When people refer to Balboa Park’s cactus garden, they usually mean the wonderful Desert Garden on the east side of Park Boulevard, just north of the gorgeous, award-winning Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. But there’s another. It’s called the 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden. And few visitors to the park know it exists.

The historic old garden might be a bit raggedy and lonely, but it’s the perfect place to sit at a picnic bench and relax in the sun while enjoying a quiet view of Bankers Hill and the Cabrillo Bridge. And plant lovers have plenty of large, fascinating specimens to explore. There are cacti, succulents and exotic Protea, not to mention trails that run down into the rugged nearby canyon and into tropical Palm Canyon, which runs toward the heart of Balboa Park.

The old cactus garden was created by Kate Sessions (San Diego’s beloved botanist and “Mother of Balboa Park”) for the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. It is located near a park employee parking lot, off the beaten path. You’ll find it behind the Balboa Park Club, which was originally the New Mexico State Building. The picturesque Pueblo Revival-style building was designed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

Some prickly pears line a driveway that leads to parking lots behind buildings in Balboa Park.
Some prickly pears line a driveway that leads to parking lots behind buildings in Balboa Park.
A huge old prickly pear cactus near the edge of a canyon filled with tall eucalyptus trees.
A huge old prickly pear cactus near the edge of a canyon filled with tall eucalyptus trees.
The 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden in San Diego's beautiful Balboa Park contains many large specimens of cacti and succulents.
The 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park contains many large specimens of cacti and succulents.
Barrel cacti in sunshine and shade on a fine day in Balboa Park.
Barrel cacti in sunshine and shade on a fine day in Balboa Park.
Several dirt paths run among the botanical marvels. Few people know this fantastic garden exists.
Several dirt paths run among the botanical marvels. Few people know this fantastic garden exists.
Looking up through the cactus garden toward the rear of the Balboa Park Club.
Looking up through the cactus garden toward the rear of the Balboa Park Club.
According to a plaque on this large outdoor brick fireplace, it was built in 1944 by Geo. J. Morganstern C.W.T. U.S.N. RET.
According to a plaque on this large outdoor brick fireplace, it was built in 1944 by Geo. J. Morganstern C.W.T. U.S.N. RET.
A closer photograph of the stately outdoor fireplace.
A closer photograph of the stately outdoor fireplace.
Seldom-used picnic benches overlook the historic Cabrillo Bridge in surprise-filled Balboa Park!
Seldom-used picnic benches overlook the historic Cabrillo Bridge in surprise-filled Balboa Park!

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