Surprise Rendezvous… (edited)

Bzzzz…. Bzzzz…

Someone was texting me. Casually I lifted the phone from my pocket to glance at the incoming text.

“I’m here. Where are you?”

Replying discreetly – “At the Red Panda.”

Slipped the phone back into my pocket before she sees me. We walked a little bit further when my phone buzzed again. I wandered away to read the message – “Where are you now?”

Replied – “Prairie Dog. Will return to the Red Panda.”

We walked back to the first exhibit. Stalling, I took a few more pictures.

She should be here any minute now – I whispered to myself.

“Well, hello!”


My sister-in-law caught up with us and more importantly, the birthday girl – my wife, Kathleen.

We planned a trip to the San Francisco Zoo for her birthday trip. It has been a long time since I have visited the zoo so this was the perfect idea for a weekend getaway into the City. However, I wanted to make it more special by gathering my brother’s family and my sister-in-law to come for a surprise visit with Kathleen.

It worked. About five minutes later, my brother and his family found us wandering around. Not expecting to see any more family members, Kathleen was pleasantly surprised when she saw them waving to her as we walked up a gradual incline to a fork in the road.

Some of the family

The weather was perfect for this particular day and especially near Ocean Beach to boot (it is usually cold and overcast).

Then another surprise was bestowed upon Kathleen – the infamous SF Zoo Key from my sister-in-law. This plastic key, in the shape of an animal, could be used at various voice boxes to activate a short recording pertaining to the animals at their respective locations.

We arrived when it opened that morning and stayed until the final call to exit. What made it so much fun was having family stop by for a surprise visit (actually, I set it up the night before so I was thankful they were able to make it on such short notice).

There were not as many animals compared to the years when I was a child visiting this same zoo. No more elephants and the larger animals were by themselves now.


Some exhibits were closed and the aging buildings showed their wear and tear. Of course, Kathleen had to see her favorite animal – the giraffe.

Do not look – I am too shy!

Minor disagreement – did not last long however


We also saw Rafiki (from the Lion King) – did not know he retired to the SF Zoo. What an honor for San Franciscans!!

“Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba” (come on, you can sing it)

Of course there were so many other animals to admire and adore.

Silverback Gorilla guarding his kingdom

Red Tailed Boa





Time to eat!!

Almost missed them!

But the best animal was the two love birds guarded by the mighty lion.

My Valentine!


Happy birthday Kathleen! You are so fun to plan surprise gatherings!



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