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By Marisa Kezirian

Editor’s Note: In our quest to bring you the best of everything east of I-15, we sent ECM intern Marisa Kezirian on a fledgling flight to review San Diego Wild Animal Park’s new zip-line ride, which benefits the Park’s program to preserve endangered California condors. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!

June 1, 2009 (Escondido)—Looking for adventure? Flightline, at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, provides visitors with a great new zip-line experience, as you soar over the park like a bird.

Flightline at the Wild Animal Park is truly an electrifying and exhilarating experience for people of all ages. As you soar over the beautiful San Pasqual Valley you cannot help but feel a sense of freedom and self-determination. It was a wonderful and gratifying experience as well as an extremely unique flight over extraordinary animals that stare up at you as you fly over them. Not only are you observing the animals from a birds-eye view, but the animals are also observing you. You may experience a slight nervous feeling before you are released, but it quickly goes away once you are let loose. You feel comforted by your harness the whole way and the landing is smooth and easy. If you are an adventurous individual, and looking for some great recreational excitement, flightline is the way to go!

Flightline takes guests on a ride for 2/3 of a mile, starting at 400 feet above animal exhibits such as Indian rhinoceros, Pere’ David’s deer, and Przewalski’s wild horses. The thrilling experience lasts for about 1½ to 2 hours, including an orientation where guests watch an instructional video to learn the proper way to fasten their harness, as well as the appropriate flying and landing positions. The excursion begins with a practice 450-foot “fledgling” run with a 31-foot drop. After the first practice flight, riders take an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour up to the top of the Flightline where they learn fun facts about some of the animals, as well as many of the exotic plants at the park.

Flightline at the Wild Animal Park also promotes ecotourism, as it does not expend any energy. It is both an educational experience as well as a nature-based attraction. One-third of all proceeds from the operation of Flightline go to the San Diego Zoo’s Conservation Research efforts to save the California condor.

According to Director of Operations Adam Ringler, the Park’s Flightline is “here to stay at the Wild Animal Park, as it is a permanent structure and trusted system that has been in the works for years.” Additionally, it is “one of the longest and most scenic zip-lines in North America.” Ringler also stated that the zip-line experience “instills confidence in people,” and is truly a unique “emersion experience into the animal exhibits as you have the view of flying like a bird.”

The launch area for Flightline is at an elevation of 900 feet, where riders are suspended between 36 and 130 feet above the ground. Four cables are provided so friends and family are able to fly together and partake in one another’s excitement of attaining speeds of up to 47 miles per hour.

The cost of Flightline is $70, plus admission to the Wild Animal Park for nonmembers. A Re-Ride is available for $39 for those adventurous enough to fly again. Participants must be at least 10 years old, be free of back or neck injuries, and weigh between 75 and 250 pounds. Flights are available daily.

For more information on the Wild Animal Park, which is located in San Pasqual east of Escondido, visit http://www.wildanimalpark.org.

Marisa Kezirian is a student at San Diego State University and an intern with East County Magazine.

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