Elephant Valley at the San Diego Safari Park

At the San Diego Safari Park, the elephants live in an area known as Elephant Valley.

They have a huge expanse of land to roam around in including shade structures, a pool, and a few mud holes that the young ones like to play in. I noticed a few toys in the yard and the keepers hide treats for the elephants to discover.

Elephant at the San Diego Safari Park
Please click the images to view larger versions.

I could easily spend all day watching the elephants. They are so affectionate with each other!

Elephant Couple at the San Diego Safari Park

The adults were rescued from Swaziland about 10 years ago when the were scheduled to be killed due to overpopulation in that area. Since then they have had many children.

Baby Elephant at the San Diego Safari Park

The babies are so much fun to watch. Check my post from earlier this week where the baby elephant has a tough time trying to stand up. So cute!

Three Elephants at the San Diego Safari Park

It was a wonderful experience to see the elephants living in a large space that is similar to their natural environment. You can watch the elephants live on the Safari Park’s elephant cam – but I warn you, you might spend all afternoon watching!

I made all of these images with my 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens that I rented for the zoo and the safari park. These 4 images were all made within the 100-250mm range at f/5 ISO400 hand held. Next time I get the opportunity I think I’ll try the 70-300L lens for comparison.

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15 Responses to “Elephant Valley at the San Diego Safari Park”

  1. Amazing shots of the elephants. Looks like they have a great place to roam. I think they were on the same plane as our elephants in Tampa back then. Our zoo has had 2 babies since then.

    • Hi Dina, yes I was very impressed with the space they have at the safari park. I personally find it a much more rewarding experience when I can feel good about how the animals are treated. Thanks for your comments!

  2. Steve Read says:

    Some cool shots as usual Anne. I’ve read that the 70-300 is a little sharper but I’ve been happy with my 100-400mm.and w/1.4 when needed..The only thing I worry about with the 100-400 in dusty areas if extending the tube doesn’t suck in dust… I’ve shot at some rodeos and so far it hasn’t been a problem.. I use Canons CPS to keep stuff clean. Aloha, Steve.. No answer needed!!

    • Hi Steve, thank you very much for your comments! I have never cleaned my sensor. I find that the automatic in-camera sensor cleaning system has worked great for me. If I get a dust spot I just turn the camera off, which activates the sensor cleaning system, and turn it back on again and the dust is gone.

  3. Kris Koeller says:

    These are awesome. I missed the elephants, but looks amazing!
    Kris Koeller recently posted..Chelsea SunsetMy Profile

  4. Steve says:

    Nice photos.

    I never think about renting lenses. Do you have a preferred lens rental service that you use?


    • Hi Steve, I used lenspal.com when I was in Florida. I had to call them because their site didn’t accept canadian credit cards, but they did take it over the phone. They are based in Florida so the shipping was quite reasonable. In California I used lensrentals.com. They were awesome and they did take my canadian credit card right on their website. I have tried to use borrowlenses.com but they will not accept a canadian credit card period. So they totally lost my business. It’s not like I need them shipped to Canada, I’m in the States! But anyway that is what has worked for me. I know there are lens rental companies in Canada too, but I haven’t tried them yet.

  5. John says:

    Elephants are by far my favorite animal to visit at the zoo – it’s so nice seeing them have an area to roam worthy of their size. At the zoo’s in New England they have these small almost jail cell like locations and I feel terrible for them.

    Absolutely love the babies – So cute.
    John recently posted..She Was Cold, But Warm with DedicationMy Profile

    • Hi John! Thank you so much for your comments. I totally agree, seeing the animals in little jail cells makes me feel so sad for them. It’s just wrong. I don’t think it should be allowed. But seeing them in an open space is much different. I’m sure it is better still to see them in the wild, but at least zoos with open concepts serve an educational and conservation role.

  6. Wonderful shots of elephants….. Really liked them…..
    Debopam Banerjee recently posted..Bunch of flowerMy Profile

  7. Totally incredible, Anne, I swear they are actually smiling! Really great captures here, you’ve done a wonderful job in grabbing a glimpse of their personalities.
    Toad Hollow Photography recently posted..Old Stone Butter ChurchMy Profile

    • Thank you very much Toad! I absolutely loved sitting here and watching the elephants. It was a warm day too and there was a nice shady spot to rest and watch their antics. I really think I would love to work with elephants one day. Maybe volunteer at one of those elephant rescue places in Africa, but I suspect I might have a very hard time leaving.

  8. [...] Elephant Valley at the San Diego Safari Park – I swear the elephants are smiling in this wonderful series from Anne McKinnell.  The really great personalities of these incredible creatures really come to life with Anne’s images, making for a delightful post. [...]

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